George Athans, Jr.
A member of the Canadian water ski team from 1965-74, George Athans, Jr. won the World Championships Overall title in 1971 and 1973, making him the first Canadian world champion in the sport since Charles Blackwell in 1953. Athans, Jr. was only the third ever skier, at the time, to win consecutive world titles. He won 10 consecutive Canadian Championships, the first coming at the age of 13, and broke 28 Canadian records. A knee injury kept him from competing at the 1975 Canadian Championships, and Athans, Jr. retired from the sport age the age of 21.
Athans, Jr. attended Kelowna Secondary School in British Columbia. Graduating with a degree in Film Studies and English Literature from Sir George Williams University (merged with Loyola College to create Concordia University) in Montréal, Athans also pursued a MBA at McGill University. For 16 years, Athans, Jr. worked as a sports commentator for CBC in Montréal earning two ACTRA award nominations as the best sportscaster in Canada. In 1971, Athans, Jr. founded his own video production company, Athans Communications, which specialized in the creation and production of various television shows and documentaries.
At the age of four, Athans, Jr. learned how to water ski on one of his mother’s old ironing boards. Born and raised in a Kelowna cottage overlooking Lake Okanagan, Athans, Jr. is a member of the Athans family sports dynasty. His father George Athans, Sr. competed at the Berlin 1936 and London 1948 and is a four-time British Empire Games medalist. His mother Irene was a diver and swimming champion setting five masters records; brother Gary, an alpine skier and member of the Crazy Canucks, was the first skier out of the downhill gate at Sarajevo 1984; brother Greg was a three-time freestyle skiing world champion and a water skier, and the only male athlete to ever win both the Canada Winter and Summer Games.
Athans, Jr. was named British Columbia Athlete of the Year in 1971, Canadian Amateur Athlete of the Year in 1972 and 1973, Québec Athlete of the Year in 1973 and made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1974. He was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1971, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1974, Québec Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, International Water Ski Federation Hall of Fame in 1993, and the Water Ski and Wakeboard Canada Hall of Fame in 2004.