World champions Whitney McClintock of Cambridge and Rusty Malinoski of Humboldt, Sask., are the female and male athletes of the year respectfully by Water Ski and Wakeboard Canada.
McClintock captured the overall title at the under-21 world championships highlighted by silver medal performances in tracks and slalom. She also earned her first professional victory, winning the slalom event at the World Cup stop in Russia. She was second overall at the Pan Am Championships collecting gold in jump, silver in tricks, and bronze in slalom. At the national championships in Newmarket, she swept all four gold.
“I matured a lot as a competitor this year,” said McClintock, 19. “I learned to manage myself a lot better and work on my own. Getting that first pro win was the highlight of the year for me. I gained a lot of confidence that I could have a successful pro career.”
Malinoski, 24, produced another superb season on the professional wakeboard circuit in 2008. He earned three major titles: world champion, Wakestock champion and Wake Games champion. He was also third overall on the Pro Tour and ranked fifth in the Wakeboard World Series. He also raised the bar in the sport landing two difficult manoeuvres on a consistent basis: the 1080 and the heelside-backside 900.
Raphael Derome of Coteau-du-Lac, Que., and Daniel Tipping of Victoria were named the male and female junior athletes of the year. Mike Leiffers of Saskatoon, the head of the national wakeboard program was named coach of the year. Canadian riders represented 30 percent of the top-12 on the pro tour, took three of the top-five placings at the world championships and posted top-five finishes in five other divisions at the worlds.
Dan Velcic of Calgary was named volunteer of the year. He is president of the Predator Bay Water Ski Club and CEO of the host committee for the 2009 World Championships slated for Calgary. Russ Dickson of Calgary is the official of the year. He officiated at five world ranking list tournaments in 2008 as well as two other tournaments.
The province of the year was Water Ski and Wakeboard Ontario for its excellent work hosting the Canadian water ski championships and the Eastern Canadian championships.
With over 35,000 registered members, Water Ski and Wakeboard Canada is the recognized national sports organization for towed water sports. Canada’s record of success on the world stage is nothing short of impressive: 42 world championship gold medals, 100 total medals in the world championships, and 27 Pan Am Games medals since 1995.