For several decades Mark Ritchhart has contributed to the sport of waterskiing, specifically in kneeboarding as an innovator, competitor, mentor, recruiter, judge, ambassador and coach. His water skiing career began in the late 70's in Lake of the Ozarks, MO when he was launched into a high level of show skiing which guided his path to Florida after college graduation. He was a professional show skier at six parks around the country and won the Doubles Title at the NSS Nationals. In Rtchhart's mid 20's, his slalom and trick skiing background paid off when he discovered the joy of kneeboarding, quickly getting noticed. After two years kneeboarding competitively in his age division he entered the open division in 1989. Throughout the 1990's Ritchhart put his physical instructional skills to work in the collegiate and disabled categories, where he even traveled overseas to teach the disabled as a side skier. He took over the Florida Southern College Water Ski Team where he recruited and coached and trained the student Athletes. Ritchhart accomplished his goal in directing the team back to the national stage through organized planned practices and training. From 2000-2009 he never lost a competition in the open division and his national and international records were both a good distance from his competitor's best in the history of the sport. Ritchhart is a 24-time Open Men National Kneeboard Champion, a 7-time International Kneeboard Champion, a 3-time MII National Kneeboard Champion and an 80+ time State Kneeboard Champion. Ritchhart also represented the US in the top division four times as a USA Kneeboard Team Member. Ritchhart currently holds the Open Men Slalom Record at 67 (1 @ 41 off) and the current International Slalom Record at 63 (3 @ 39 1/2 off). Ritchhart has taught at several USA Water Ski development clinics, officials clinics and other local and national events. He has held official's ratings for more than 20 years as a Senior Judge, Regular Driver, Safety Director and Technical Controller and was Chief Judge at several National Tournaments. His influence as a member of the American Kneeboard Association Board of Directors and his willingness to share his vast proficiency and coaching skills, with all, has provided positive effects and experiences for Kneeboarding members past and present. Mark's attitude of integrity, character, support, love and genuine interest for the individuals with which he has worked is a true description of a water ski hero.
American Kneeboard Association: John C. Haile (Orlando, Fla.), Active Ambassador Award.
January 26, 2019