Water skiing is a surface water sport in which an individual is pulled behind a boat or a cable ski installation over a body of water, skimming the surface on two skis or one (slalom) ski. The sport requires sufficient area on a smooth stretch of water, one or two skis, a tow boat with tow rope, three people, and a personal flotation device. In addition, the skier must have adequate upper and lower body strength, muscular endurance, and good balance. Skiing is a fun pastime that allows people of all skill levels and ages to enjoy. There is no minimum age necessary to waterski.
Water skiing was invented in 1922 when Ralph Samuelson used a pair of boards as skis and a clothesline as a towrope on Lake Pepin in Lake City, Minnesota. Samuelson experimented with different positions on the skis for several days until 2 July 1922. Samuelson discovered that leaning backwards in the water with ski tips up and poking out of the water at the tip was the optimal method. His brother Ben towed him and they reached a speed of 32 kilometres per hour (20 mph).Samuelson spent 15 years performing shows and teaching water skiing to people in the United States.
Samuelson went through several iterations of equipment in his quest to ski on water. His first equipment consisted of barrel staves for skis.He later tried snow skis,but finally fabricated his own design out of lumber with bindings made of strips of leather. The ski rope was made from a long window sash.Samuelson never patented any of his ski equipment. The first patent for water skis was issued to Fred Waller, of Huntington, NY, on 27 October 1925, for skis he developed independently and marketed as "Dolphin Akwa-Skees." Waller's skis were constructed of kiln-dried mahogany, as were some boats at that time. Jack Andresen patented the first trick ski, a shorter, fin-less water ski, in 1940.
The sport of water skiing remained an obscure activity for several years after 1922, until Samuelson performed water ski shows from Michigan to Florida. The American Water Ski Association formally acknowledged Samuelson in 1966 as the first recorded water skier in history. Samuelson was also the first ski racer, slalom skier, and the first organizer of a water ski show.
Water skiing gained international attention in the hands of famed promoter, Dick Pope, Sr., often referred to as the "Father of American Water Skiing" and founder of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida. Pope cultivated a distinct image for his theme-park, which included countless photographs of the water skiers featured at the park. These photographs began appearing in magazines worldwide in the 1940s and 1950s, helping to bring international attention to the sport for the first time.He was also the first person to complete a jump on water skis, jumping over a wooden ramp in 1928, for a distance of 25 feet.His son, Dick Pope, Jr., is the inventor of bare-foot skiing. Both men are in the Water Ski Hall of Fame. Today, Winter Haven, Florida, with its famous Chain of Lakes, remains an important city for water skiing, with several major ski schools operating there.
Water skiing has developed over time. Water skiing tournaments and water skiing competitions have been organized. As an exhibition sport, water skiing was included in the 1972 Olympics. The first National Show Ski Tournament was held in 1974, and the first ever National Intercollegiate Water Ski Championships was held in 1979. The Home CARE US National Water Ski Challenge, the first competition for people with disabilities, was organized ten years later.
The first patented design of a water ski which included carbon fiber was that of Hani Audah at SPORT labs in 2001. Its first inclusion in tournament slalom skiing was in 2003.