The SportsInsurance.com Queens Cup will return for its second season at Little Mountain Lake near Charlotte, N.C., aka the Queen City, on Sept. 16-17, with more than $10,000 in cash and prizes on the line. "The Queens Cup was well-planned, well-executed and provided exceptional ski conditions," said Jennifer Leachman, a former world record holder and a member of the USA Water Ski Hall of Fame. "I don't know how they could have made it any better.” Leachman won't be able to ski in the Queens Cup this year because of ankle surgery, but she encourages others to experience the event. Women of all skill levels enjoyed the camaraderie and inclusiveness of the 2016 Queens Cup. The goal for the tournament is to bring national and international women skiers together at a world-class site for a slalom championship with a significant number of competitors. Tournament director Jeff Gilbert has goals he sets and meets for the Queens Cup.
“This tournament provides a great value for the entry fee -- a great site, a top-quality tournament, a minimum of two to three rounds, and multiple opportunities to win cash and prizes for all levels,” Gilbert said.
Joy Kelley of Tennessee validated the scoring system -- and made skiers over 40 smile -- by finishing second last year as a 50-some-year-old skier.
“There is something truly unique about this event,” Kelley said. “Today, there is no other opportunity like Queens Cup for women. It is an event that inspires, challenges, and allows us to simultaneously pull together our physical, mental and emotional strength -- with a (scoring) system that provides appropriate and unlimited competitive opportunity for women 30 to 70-plus years of age.”
With support from area Nautique dealer Race City Marine of Mooresville, N.C., the Queens Cup was created to give women the opportunity to ski for a cash purse on a record-capability lake, with a format modeled after the men's Nautique Big Dawg World Tour. Two rounds of Saturday qualifying will narrow the field to 16 skiers, who will return Sunday for the bracketed Sweet 16 head-to-head finals. A significant difference is the Queens Cup scoring system that allows women whose top speed is 30 and 32 mph to ski on equal footing with those who ski 34 mph. The Queens Cup is for women 30 years and older. The 2016 field had women up to 72 years old and skiers from every age division down to Women 2. The tournament will also be scored Saturday to recognize the best three skiers of the day who beat their average handicap score for the year. Those top three will receive cash and prizes.
The inaugural Queens Cup got rave reviews from officials, spectators and mostly from the skiers. Sweden’s Josefin Hirst of Florida took the crown, defeating surprise finalist Kelley of Tennessee in the final. Leachman of Florida was third.
“It is a ton of fun for any level female skier," Leachman said. Said Kelley: “The Queens Cup showcases the longevity of women in our sport and their powerful desire to keep reaching their potential, and be the best they can be at any age through water skiing.”
Little Mountain Lake is the site of world record performances in Masters Men and Open Men, as well as numerous national and international records. In addition to its Pro-Am tournaments, Little Mountain annually hosts a Big Dawg World Tour stop.