Local water skier, Karen Stevens, finished off a hugely successful chapter in her water skiing accomplishments this past fall, when she represented Canada at the 2011 Pan Am games in Mexico, in October. At the games, Stevens scored three bronze medals for Canada, one each in the slalom and jump events and the third in a separate ‘overall’ three event competition (slalom, tricks and jumps).
Stevens, 22, described as “another in an endless stream of young rising stars in the sport in Canada” in an October 23 WaterSki & Wakeboard Canada story, finished an impressive third in the ‘overall’ at the Pan Am games behind gold medal winner Regina Jacques of the U.S. and Canadian teammate and silver medal winner Whitney McClintock of Cambridge, Ontario.
In the WaterSki & Wakeboard Canada article, Stevens was quoted saying, “The competition was tough. It’s awesome to come home with three medals. I’m very happy with the way it has gone.”
The Leader caught up with Stevens in December, when she was home for a visit.
Of her selection for the four-member Canadian team, the highest team selection of her skiing career to date, she said, “It was an honour to be picked for the Canadian team. It was pretty cool. We are a really young team (21 to 27 years). The coolest thing for me was that my medals contributed to Canada’s medal count.”
Making the trip to Mexico, for the Pan American games was Karen’s dad, Mark, who says, “It was really good. There were more people there than I have ever seen at a water ski competition. It was a very big week.”
“When they picked the Canadian team they were looking for a skier who they felt could get them three bronze medals,” he explained. “So she did what they wanted. It was truly an honour for her to be picked, and we were happy with her performance. She jumped her personal best and her tricks were close to her personal best. Unfortunately, her best event, slalom was down a bit.”
Mark, also an accomplished skier, says he is extremely proud of Karen, but admits, “It’s hard watching. It is definitely worse than skiing yourself.”
Karen concludes that it was an absolute thrill to compete at the Pan Am games and to be in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she says the athletes were treated ‘royally’.
Over 5,000 athletes representing 42 countries in over 30 sports competed at the Pan American Games which are a continental Americas’ version of the Olympic Games. Held every four years, they include the Olympic Program sports and others that are not part of the Olympic Games.
Canada is scheduled to host the next edition of the Games in 2015, in Toronto.
For the last four years, Karen has skied for the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) ski team. This team is the most successful water ski team in the history of collegiate water skiing having won 20 plus national championships since 1979.
She has now completed the four-year Kinesiology Program at ULM. This winter she is completing the required internship for her ULM degree at the National Training Institute in Florida. She is now skiing competitively, focusing on the slalom pro tour events.
Karen has been water skiing pretty much since she could walk. She got her early training from her dad and grew up skiing with her younger siblings, brother Daniel and sister Janice, in the home bay east of Iroquois.
Karen was a strong skier for the ULM team and her rankings over the four years by the National Collegiate Water Skiing Association, an affiliate of the USA Water Ski Association, are quite impressive.
She completed her final ski season at the college level in 2010, finishing first in Slalom and fourth overall at the Division 1, U.S. Collegiate Nationals.
Final 2011 International Water Ski Association elite women’s slalom rankings have Karen ranked ninth in the world.