As a professional water skier for over twenty years and the world record holder in women’s slalom from 1992–2010, Kristi Overton Johnson took to the waters of the world with passion, perseverance, and a desire to impact the world of water skiing. This wife and mother of three now focuses her passions and experiences to encourage and equip people for victory in every season of their lives.
Kristi married her best friend, Tim Johnson, in 1994. Kristi and Tim met while attending the University of Central Florida. Upon graduating with business degrees, they attended the University of Florida College of Law where they both received Juris Doctorates and licenses to practice law. They have three children: Ty, Dalton, and Ivy. Dalton and Ivy were adopted from Russia in 2005. Currently, Tim and Kristi reside in Central Florida, home base to Kristi Overton Johnson Ministries and In His Wakes, both nonprofit ministries Kristi founded.
Although a US Master’s Champion and number one world ranked athlete in the trick event, Kristi began to specialize in the slalom event in 1988 due to a congenital hip deformity. For fifteen years, Kristi dominated the women’s slalom event, accumulating eighty professional wins and capturing more number one world rankings than any other female skier in history. She is an eight-time US Masters Champion and four-time US Open Champion. She held the world record in women’s slalom from 1992-2010.
Kristi travelled the world, bringing home the gold and setting records as a World Champion, Pan American Games, and US Pro Tour Champion. She won the British, French, Italian, Australian, and Austrian Masters. Her ski career was honored through her induction to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in May 2012. She was also inducted into the USA Water Ski Hall of Fame and Florida Water Ski Hall of Fame in 2013.
Kristi departed the professional circuit in 2004 after ten surgeries, including a complete reconstruction of her pelvis. She made a brief appearance back on the water at the 2007 and 2009 World Championships, as well as the 2008 and 2009 US Masters Water Ski and Wakeboard Tournaments. After undergoing more surgeries, Kristi once again stepped away from competition. Although retired, Kristi remains active in the sport of water skiing.
In 2003, combining her passion for water sports with her love for people and Jesus Christ, Kristi formed In His Wakes, an international watersports outreach. To date, In His Wakes has introduced thousands of at-risk youth to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ through the avenue of watersports. Visit In His Wakes for more information.
Kristi gives a dynamic interview and is a sought after faith-based motivational speaker in various arenas. She has a remarkable ability to encourage and equip people to victory through analogies from her life experiences and her faith. She has been featured on national outlets such as CBN’s The 700 Club, TBN’s More than Conquerors, and Kenneth Copeland’s Victory Magazine. Her water ski career has been highlighted on ESPN, ABC’s Wide World of Sports, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Water Ski Magazine, among others.
Kristi is the published author of Running the Course and Hit It! She is also the publisher of Victorious Living magazine and was a featured columnist for The Washington Post. Kristi launches weekly encouraging videos and writings on social media to help people experience victory in every season of their lives. You can link to her social media sites here.
I face challenges just like anyone else in this world, but today, I can truly say that I am filled with more peace, contentment, and joy than I’ve ever experienced before. Not only that, my life now has purpose and an impact far beyond what I could have imagined.
Now, you might think I was happy and living out my purpose before—after all, I was a world champion water skier with medals galore. I held the world record in women’s slalom for eighteen years and was regularly interviewed on ESPN. And yes, I am amazed and grateful for the life I experienced during my thirty-five years on the water. But you know what? Even though I had all of those incredible victories, I learned very quickly that they weren’t true victory.
When I found myself stretched out on various hospital beds, undergoing sixteen surgeries…when I encountered Lyme disease and chronic illnesses…when my body gave out and I no longer had “world champion” after my name—my whole identity as I had constructed it shattered. I was lost…really lost. And I hurt, emotionally and physically. And not one medal or accolade came to my rescue. Those things had no power to move me forward out of my pain. I needed a Power Source!
As a water skier, one thing is for sure. If you want movement, if you want to rise up out of the water and experience victory, you have to get off the dock. You have to connect to a power source and commit to surrender to its power over and over again. You must be willing to say “hit it!” to the boat driver, no matter how you feel or how rough the conditions. Those simple words are the difference between victory and defeat.
Well, in life, the same thing is true. We all need a Power Source to save us and pull us out of the water so that we can move toward victory. According to the Bible, God is the perfect Power Source who never fails us. And His Son, Jesus, is our connection to that Power Source.
Jesus is our line, and that Line is our lifeline!
When I connected to God as my Power Source through my faith in His Son and I truly committed to knowing and following Him, my life was forever changed. In my surrender to Him—in my saying “hit it!” to God—true victory came. I experienced peace of mind in the midst of chaos, joy in the midst of pain, power in moments of weakness, and a purpose and identity beyond what I did and who I pleased.
Now, that doesn’t mean it’s been easy or that I no longer face hardship or pain. It doesn’t mean that I never make mistakes. I fall every day, just like I did when I water skied, but that’s okay. Falls don’t prevent victory. As a water skier, I fell every day—often multiple times a day for over thirty years—but I still became a world champion. So you see, our falls don’t keep us down; it’s whether we will say “hit it!” to our Power Source one more time. Like the boat, God is always ready and willing to take us on an adventure. The question is, will we go with Him?
It is my greatest desire and life’s commitment to help you connect to the ultimate Power Source and experience the true victory I found through my surrender to Him. The message of victory God has given me, and the lessons I have learned are for everyone. It doesn’t matter where you are in life or the situation you’re facing, you can experience victory in Jesus Christ.
Contact me if you are interested in bringing this message of victory to your organization or church. Proceeds from my speaking fee support Kristi Overton Johnson Ministries’ Victorious Living Prison Outreach.