The unique format of the Queen’s Cup was created to provide women’s slalom skiers the opportunity to compete for cash and prizes at a world-record capability water ski site. With a purse exceeding $10,000 in cash and prizes, the tournament is presented by SportsInsurance.com and Race City Marine of Mooresville, N.C. The event is designed to parallel the men’s Nautique Big Dawg World Slalom Tour in giving women the opportunity to take center stage at an elite event.
Regional, national and world champions are among the skiers who entered in the first two years, but the event is also open to water skiers of all levels.
The inaugural Queen’s Cup champion, Josefin Hirst, will return after having to miss last year’s event. The 2017 champion, however, will not be eligible to defend her title because of her placement in the 2018 Moomba Masters. Vennesa Vieke was third at Moomba. Queen’s Cup rules prohibit skiers who place in the top seven of an elite tournament from entering.
Previous Queen’s Cup skiers include USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame inductee Jennifer LaPoint, a former world record holder, as well as winners of multiple regional and national championships, such as Leza Harrison, Joy Kelley, Trish Burt, Chelsea Mills, Shirley Coble, Gail Case, Brenda Baldwin, Cyndi Benzel and more.
Skiers ages 30 and older from throughout the United States as well as Europe and Canada competed in the first two Queen’s Cups. The top 16 after two rounds of Saturday qualifying advance to Sunday’s head-to-head finals. An award is also given to the skier who most exceeds her average score, based on a handicap system, regardless of whether she advances to the Sweet 16.
The most unique aspect of the Queen’s Cup is the parity it brings. Skiers of all ages compete on equal footing, as boat speeds are taken out of the equation. For example, women whose maximum boat speed is 30 or 32 mph get the same buoy scores as those whose top speed is 34. A 28-off pass – or any other – counts the same at any boat speed.
That format propelled Joy Kelley, 58 years old at the time, into the head-to-head final against 34-year-old Hirst at the 2016 Queen’s Cup. Kelley’s top boat speed was 32; Hirst’s was 34. Kelley defeated 34-mph skiers Brenda Baldwin and Chelsea Mills in the rounds of 8 and 4, before meeting Hirst in the final.
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