Greg Athans, Freestyle champ

Champion waterskier, freestyler astonished ski world and dominated early World Cup circuit.

Greg Athans, World Cup champion in moguls in 1980, four-time world champion in freestyle events, and 15-time Canadian national waterskiing champion, died  of complications due to diabetes. He was 51.

Athans grew up in Kelowna, BC. He was a self-taught athlete who dropped out of school to compete full time on water and snow. He appeared to succeed, almost instantly, at everything he tried. He burst on the freestyle scene in 1976 and immediately won the overall mogul and ballet titles. He brought aerial stunts to ballet, launching an unprecedented 720-degree leaping spin from a flat surface, using the long skis of the era. Eventually he won 20 World Cup events.

In recent years Greg worked as a photographer in Vancouver, and often covered the sports he had himself dominated. He was the son of Dr. George Athans, a national champion and Olympian in diving, and Irene Athans, a world record holder in relay swimming. Greg’s older brother George was a national waterskiing champion at age 13. His younger brother Gary was also a national waterskiing champ, and was a member of the Canadian alpine ski team in for eight years, competing in the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.

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