Best Day On The Water: The Ultimate Water-Ski Trick

By Jack Slimp

Water skiing cartoonIllustration: Gary Holland

In the early 1960s, when I was a hotdog water-skier, I was slalom skiing in El Paso, Texas, on the small man-made Lake Ascarate, which had banks that are essentially cut straight down so you could ski close to shore. My brother, Stu, was the driver of our 1961 Lone Star 16-foot runabout.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, and there were picnickers on one the side of the lake. When skiing past the area, a bunch of people waved at us. Realizing we had an audience, I signaled Stu to bring me back around.

While the boat was making its approach, my slalom skiing was throwing huge walls of water. I touched an elbow to the water while leaning toward the shore before straightening up for my pass across the middle of the picnic area. My ski had a deep keel and was very narrow in the rear, and I was going to pop the ski as vertical as possible to create a big spray bubble of water around me.

Alas, the water was shallower than expected, and suddenly the ski's keel grabbed the mud bottom and jerked the whole ski down. I was popped off the ski, sailed through the air, landed head first in the water with arms outstretched, while momentum spun me forward, flipped me upright, and I came to a stop on my feet in knee-deep water. Briefly stunned, I came to my senses hearing the roar and applause of the crowd. Everybody was clapping, cheering wildly. So I took a bow and waved — but for some reason, I never did an encore. 

— Published: August/September 2018

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