2019 WSIA Summit Recap: Story & Photos

Epic snow conditions and productive meetings took place in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where over 200 industry professionals gathered on February 28th and March 1st for the annual WSIA Summit to collaborate and focus on topics including safety, risk management, advocacy and participation growth. The WSIA’s mission is to promote and protect the future of all towed water sports, and over the course of Summit’s two days, members, board of directors, and committee chairs alike all moved the industry a step forward.

Thirteen years strong, the 2019 Summit has received a considerable amount of positive feedback and is widely regarded as a huge success thanks to constructive seminars, workshops, and committee meetings as well as some of the most valuable and talked about keynote speakers hosted thus far. This past week, the Rockies were blessed with tons of snow, and Summit attendees hit it big with the powdery conditions on the slopes. Time to connect on the mountain with friends, colleagues, and competitors is an invaluable aspect that Summit brings to the table, along with other networking opportunities like cocktail hours and organized dinners.

Day one began with a morning of First Tracks, sponsored by the NMMA, followed by the kickoff lunch courtesy of Surf Expo, a top tier Summit sponsor. During lunch, Summit attendees had the pleasure of listening to keynote speaker Sam Dantzler’s “Want-Based vs. Need-Based Selling” presentation. Dantzler and his words left a big impact on everyone in the crowd and will surely have influence over how industry leaders move forward with their businesses.

Dantzler had the crowd look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and noted that “Need-Based Selling” touches the third point of “Love and Belonging.” Dantzler goes on in saying, “Look at number three: ‘Do I matter? Do I belong? Am I included?’ –– That is what they’re buying!” Dantzler continues, “People don’t want to buy from [your brand], they want to be a part of [your brand].” He goes on to make the resonating point that people buy your product or service because they like you. And he finishes with the most remembered quote of the weekend: “It’s not about your ability to close, it’s about your ability to open.”

After an incredible lunch and speech, the Tuesday afternoon schedule was filled with impactful and dynamic committees and workshops, as well as a deeper dive with Sam Dantzler.

Tuesday evening led Summit attendees to the crowd-favorite Dinner on the Mountain. Private gondola rides brought them atop the slopes for a night of Western barbeque, cocktails, raffle prizes, and live music – even a special appearance of executive director Kevin Michael on the drums. This year, the WSIA hosted keynote speaker Grant Korgan, along with his wife Shawna Korgan, to present “Mental Game is Everything.” (Read more about Korgan here.)

Korgan shared his journey of spinal cord injury followed by resilience and his success of many achievements, one of which was becoming the first spinal cord-injured athlete to ski 80 miles to Antarctica’s South Pole. Grant inspiringly stated, “Whatever in your life that is not working, that is completely independent of what your heart and your mind and your spirit is capable of sharing with this earth.” He went on to instill the message that “it’s the summation of the small goals that make up the fruition of the whole.” Korgan’s story and presentation will not soon be forgotten and will be used as a reminder to persevere no matter the conditions.

On Friday morning, many Summit attendees hit the slopes again for a morning of riding before another full day of speed round presentations, seminars and workshops, including well-attended Wake Responsibly and Waterway Protection seminars led by WSIA Chairman Larry Meddock, where members and presentees discussed new ideas and a continued plan for how to better prevent and resolve future waterway issues.

The day also featured a free-of-charge CPR Certification provided by USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Foundation as well as a Water Rescue Seminar in the pool with Pro Wakeboard Tour lieutenant paramedic, Dan Power. For the third year in a row, 20 attendees left with their CPR Certification card and many more left with the ability to save an injured participant from laying face down in the water while supporting the spinal cord and not exacerbating any existing injuries.

The 2019 Summit wrapped up on Friday night with a cocktail reception, dinner, and the scheduled 2019 WSIA Leadership Awards, a ceremony that recognizes industry leaders and top performers for the year.

Right before the awards ceremony was about to take place, an impromptu auction broke out. Greg Hodgin from Wake the World told the story about dear friends who donated a Porsche to the cause. They had recently gone through the worst of hardships, and Hodgin decided to auction off the Porsche’s sides, hood, and trunk as displays for sponsors’ logos. The auction was a huge success (in part because of Dano the Mano’s first-ever auctioneering skills), with proceeds totaling over $15,000. The car will be displayed at Surf Expo, where it will also be given away to one lucky attendee (who must be present to win). This was an ingenious idea by Hodgin to raise money for Wake the World in his friends’ honor as well as boost presence at Surf Expo.

Closing out the night, Dano the Mano presented awards to all Leadership Award winners, who are all praiseworthy and deserve a round of applause for their dedication and service to the industry.

2019 Leadership Awards Recap >>

For all 2019 Summit photos, click here >>

Thank you to all of our sponsors who make WSIA Summit happen:

Words: Emily Dale | Photos: Bill Doster