LIMA, Peru – Regina Jaquess’ father just might have to buy another trophy case.
The five-time Pan American Games veteran and now 16-time medalist upgraded from her silver-medal finish in slalom in Toronto 2015 and defended her jumping crown for the fourth consecutive Games.
With her first jump, Jaquess sealed the title.
The 35-year-old water skier didn’t even remember that it was her fourth gold medal in a row in jumping. The bewildered look on her face was immediately replaced with sheer joy and excitement at the realization.
“This is like an Olympic medal for us,” Jaquess said. “That’s as big as we get. It’s always every four years… being able to stay healthy and compete and jump for the fourth consecutive one is humbling. That’s kind of crazy – that’s a lot of years.”
Having competed in the Pan American Games for 16 years now, garnering eight golds, four silvers and three bronzes, she’s kept the tradition of framing all of her medals at her father’s house, since she was living with him when she first embarked on her Pan American Games journey.
With each gold-medal win, perspective has changed for Jaquess, realizing now how many people put the time and effort into each win, making the significance of capturing gold even greater for her.
“Your first one is like, ‘This is great,’” Jacquess said. “By the time you get to where you are now, you realize how much your family puts into seeing that achieved for you. It’s more of a medal that everybody is involved in. You respect it more because you realize how much people have put into you – that kind of makes them more special than the first one.”
She doesn’t let the target on her back phase her in competition. Acknowledging that it’s a lot of pressure, Jaquess tries not to ponder over it and instead focuses on competing against herself and on her key points.
After the Games, the focus for Jaquess will be on world championships in three weeks. The competitions in Lima also serve as a gauge for what areas she needs to focus on and practice.
“This is a great time and setup to be working toward and going through the mechanics of what you do in a water ski tournament,” coach Jay Bennett said. “It’s given us a great opportunity to be fine tuning things that we need to for the world championships. Where she is right now with all three of her events is a nice situation and pace that she needs to be in.”
Team USA finished the day with six medals with Taylor Garcia earning gold in men’s jumping, Adam Pickos bronze in tricks and Erika Lang grabbing silver in women’s tricks. Mary Morgan Howell claimed silver in the Pan American Games debut of women’s wakeboard.
On Tuesday, Team USA will compete in the waterski overall final and the men’s wakeboard final.