Jim Rusing

American Water Ski Educational Foundation Award of Distinction 2002

Inducted into the Florida Water Ski Federation Hall of Fame 2003

Jim Rusing of Winter Haven and now residing in Homeland, California started his chosen career with a ski school in the state of Washington in the 1940s, striving toward a vision he had for the future of water skiing: a professional sport; a sport for the whole family; a sport for the adventurous; a sport for the “rich and famous;” and a sport for the Olympics. Knowing that Florida was the water ski capital of the world, Rusing moved his family to Winter Haven. He landed his first water skiing job as director of shows at Cypress Gardens. He later started his own water ski show operated in conjunction with Barnum and Bailey circus. He incorporated ideas from the circus into his water show, including a water skiing elephant. In the 1960s he opened another theme park at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., but of course he wanted more and he started tournament skiing. After he broke the jumping record in 1955, he decided water ski tournaments deserved more promotion and brought ABC’s Wide World of Sports to cover water skiing nationwide. Rusing retired after seeing all his dreams come true (except for the Olympics). (Deceased)