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Waterskiing | Under the Sun Sports to get a Suntan

Anyone who has water-skied has known the pleasure of gliding over mirror smooth water, warm air caressing your skin and life giving sun on your face. Ahhh. Or how about the excitement of performing tricks, jumping or skiing barefoot to make your day more interesting. As history often tells us, several people in different areas seemed to have much the same idea without being aware of one another. Such is the case with waterskiing.


Many give credit to Ralph Samuelson as the founder of water skiing; while he enjoyed aquaplaning he felt there had to be something better. Aquaplaning, where a person was towed behind a boat on a single large board was popular in the early 1900’s. So on June 28, 1922, Ralph tried out his idea of a board on each foot. He attempted it by stepping off the aquaplane onto the two ‘skis’, not real successful. He didn’t quit and soon became a water ski performer throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin and performing his first jump in July of 1925. Surprisingly he did not receive credit for this discovery until 1966 and in 1972 he was named the ‘Father of Water Skiing’ by the American Water Skiing Association.

Until 1966 the person considered the inventor of the water ski was a special effects technician for the movies, Fred Waller! Surprised? In 1925 he wanted to find a way to mount a camera for ‘tracking shots’ on the water. He succeeded and was bright enough to realize the recreational value of his water skis, marketing them as “Dolphin Akwa Skees”.

In 1928, Don Ibsen in the state of Washington was attempting to water ski using snow skis, with little success. So he made adjustments, manufactured his 7’ x 8” cedar skis and started a water ski school as well.

In my younger days we skied a lot and I started out on Dick Pope skis. Now as far as waterskiing Dick Pope, Sr. did the most to make it the sport it is today. Dick and Julie Pope opened Cypress Gardens on lovely Lake Eloise, site of beautiful gardens, water ski shows, Southern belles and Esther Williams movies. He was instrumental in organizing national and international water ski competitions; hosting several at Cypress Gardens. His contribution via the American Water Ski Association was noted when the association made him Vice President for Life.

The governing organization of water skiing is the Americans Water Skiing Association and was formed in 1939. The types of water skiing competitions available now are fantastic! Slalom, trick and jumping (three event), show skiing, ski racing, barefoot, wakeboarding, hydrofoil and disabled skiing make it possible for so many to compete. You can compete on a professional, amateur or on the collegiate level (90 teams). The 9th Disabled Water Ski Championships were held August 31-September 6 in Vichy, France. Three disabilities are included: visually impaired, amputees and multiplegics. Wow!

Now if you don’t want to compete you can choose one or all of the types of skiing you want to learn and enjoy. Just remember this is a water sport so use waterproof sun block or sunscreen then hats and sunglasses when not skiing.

-Miss Suntan

Want to find out about more under the sun sports?

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