Montreal teen wins gold at the Waterski World Championships in Chile

“It's like dancing on water,” says Hannah Stopnicki, a 16-year-old Montrealer who brought home gold from the Waterski World Championships in Chile. Pamela Pagano reports.

CityNews first introduced you to 16-year-old Hannah Stopnicki at the beginning of this year.

The two-time Pan American waterskiing champion just returned to Montreal, bringing along something extra — another gold medal.

Hannah Stopnicki, 16-year-old water-skier, with her gold medal. (Credit: Pamela Pagano/CityNews)

“This is my gold trick medal,” said Hannah. “The medal that made me a world champion.”

Dedication dove her into first place for the World Under 17 Girls Tricks category.

And team Canada took home silver overall.

“The only word I can describe it with is ‘unreal’,” explained Hannah. “It just didn’t feel real.”

With a personal best score in the World’s preliminary round, everyone was at the edge of their seats when she splashed into the finals.

“I had to step away from the lake, I couldn’t really watch it,” said her father, Daniel Stopnicki. “I was super nervous for her because, you can win, but it could also be over in a split second.”

READ MORE: Montreal teen making a splash for Canada in waterskiing

Behind that medal, years of dedication to the sport, she began at just two-years-old with her older siblings on a lake in Quebec’s Laurentians.

“She’s worked so hard, really, to get to where she is,” said her mother, Christina Della Rocca. “She sacrificed a lot.”

From the support of her family and team, to hours of training with her Water Ski Canada coaches.

“It was very exciting to see, you know, a spark in this young girl that we could see from the shore,” said Matt Rini, a technical coach with the Canadian Water Ski Team.

The four-time national champion spends most of her time in Florida at Matt Rini’s Waterski School and when she’s back in Montreal, she’s at the Olympia Performance gym in Kirkland.

Olympia Performance gym in Kirkland. (Credit: Pamela Pagano/CityNews)

“Water skiing is a sport that’s unlike any other sport,” said Hannah.

But, making waves at the Pan American champions which were also in Chile, at the end of 2022, was tough due to injury.

During the Worlds, an overflow of emotions before her competition, after seeing a team member crash.

“I was actually really upset before I skied,” she explained. “I was actually in the corner of a room crying.”

“I’m most proud of her for keeping everything in check,” added Rini. “Keeping everything together to actually perform to the way she needed to win the world championship.”


Up next for the talented Montrealer, she’s already punched her ticket into the Junior Masters in May, and two weeks later it’s the under-21 Worlds in Mexico.

“You can literally walk on water,” she said smiling. “It’s like dancing on water.”

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