The Start

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Now imagine that you are sitting on your dock on Lake Pepin in Lake city, Minnesota. You are enjoying the nice day when all of the sudden a boat goes by, nothing out of the ordinary. But wait...its pulling something. As the object goes by you stand up in disbelief. Your neighbor, Ralph Samuelson, is being pulled behind that boat on what appears to be two barrel staves! The date is July 8th, 1925.
Ralph Samuelson had tried time and time again to finally get up out of the water. He had first tried straight, wooden boards, then a pair of snow skiis, and finnaly he went and got a barrel, took two staves off of it, heated them with steam and curved the wood to the desired shape. This apparently worked for him!
Ralph would go on to become the first of many types of water skiing, like jumping and speed skiing, which was when he was pulled behind a World War One Curtis Flying Boat at eighty miles per hour! Besides being the inventor of all of this he also performed all across the East coast of the U.S. He performed in Michigan, Florida, you name it!
Unfortunately for Samuelson, a construction accident which broke his back ended his water skiing career, but his legacy lives on. He was put into the water skiing hall of fame in 1982.
The Different Types
  • Trick skiing

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There is not much to say for this topic. The stunts performed by trick skiers can be anything from a simple flip to more complicated routines. There are only a few ways to start a trick which is by getting into the air from a jump, the wake of the boat, or just jumping while skiing. This is also part of a three event tournament which includes jumping, slalom, and of course, trick skiing. Oh and one more thing, trick skis don't have fins on the bottoms of them like regular skis do. This gives them more maneuverability in the water to perform tricks. They are also a lot shorter in length compared to regular water skis.
  • Slalom
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Slalom is a form of water skiing where a water skier is on only on ski with two bindings on it. In slaom competitions, the skier goes through six pairs of buoys and keeps going through the set until he/she either misses a pair or falls. Also with each successful pass through the set the driver of the boat increases the speed of the boat by two miles per hour (up to a maximum of 36 miles per hour) and shortens the rope length. Your score is how many feet are taken off the original rope length (usually 75 feet to start). Also the boat pulling the skier is usually a Master craft or a Correct Craft because they have more precise speedometers which is very important, as you can see, in these competitions.
  • Jumping
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Like trick skiing there is not much to say for jumping either. In competitions the skiier tries to jump as far as he/she can on a ramp usually about 21 feet long and 6 feet high. Your score is the distance you jump. Some skiiers have been recorded at nearly 200 feet!
  • Barefoot
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Barefoot skiing is exactly what it sounds like. You do not have any water skiis on when you are doing this. The main difference between this and regular water skiing is you have to be going a lot faster to stay up, usually about 35-40 miles per hour.
  • Show Skiing
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Show water skiing is the more unusual tricks performed by water skiiers. These can include humanwater skiis, pyramids, skiing on canoe paddles, skiing on ping pong paddles, and doing a 360 degree turn around the boat.

How The Skiis Are Made
Depending on what the skiis are going to be made out of (wood, kevlar, fiber glass, or honey combed metal) the desired shape is cut. Then they sand down all the rough edges and coat the skiis with a water proof material called lacquer. After that the last two steps are attaching the bindings (usually rubber) and decoating the skiis.

Water Skiing and Snow Skiing
  • Similarities
The main similarities between snow and water skiis are the spooned tips, bindings, and they are usually made of fiberglass.
  • Differences
The differences between water and snow skiis are: water skiis are much wider, they don't have metal edges, and the bindings are made of rubber. Also most water skiis have fins, and some water skiis have a concave bottom.
My Expert
For my expert I consulted former water skiier Shane W. He started water skiing in 1974 at the age of 8 and entered his first 3 event tournament at 12. He skiied on a team for the first time at the age of 15. He has also looked over and verified this information so if you have any questions contact him at 612-845-1771 or e-mail him at
Other Facts an Information
  • In a competion the skiis must be made out of aluminun, fiberglass, hickory, or ash.
  • In a competition skiis cannot be shorter than 39.375 inches and have to be 9.75 inches wide or less.
  • The American Water Ski Association was founded in 1939.
  • The World Water Ski Association was founded in 1949.
  • The first Water skiing national championships were held in 1939.
  • To get up out of the water the skiier must "sit" in the water at an angle with the tips of the skiis slightly out of the water.
  • The world record slalom (mens) score is 43 off.
  • The world record slaom (women) score is 41 off.
  • Some of the major companies that sell and make water skiis are: Connely, D3, and Goode.
  • The day after Ralph Samuelson got up first was his 19th birthday.