‘My knees were knocking as I sat there on the edge of the dock, ski rope in hand. My two water skis were tips up and parallel, knees bent. I could barely think as I heard the instructional voices and the sound of the boat engine. Could I do it?’
I was 10 years old when I first tried water skiing. It was with two old wooden skis behind a small tin boat with a 10HSP engine at my girlfriend’s parents cabin. There was a crowd of people at her place that weekend, so there was no pressure at all, not! There I sat on the edge of the dock, a tall, gangly legged 10 year-old going for my first attempt at water skiing. I was terrified to say the least.
May I mention to you that I do not consider myself athletic, or particularly brave, or someone who likes to be in the spotlight. At 10 I was extremely shy and quiet, skinny as a rail, with legs too long, and skin too light for the summer sun. I was ‘different’ because I had long red hair and mounds of freckles. My self-esteem was not that marvelous. So here I was, the center of attention, voices telling me what to do from all directions, ski rope in hand attempting to water ski for my first time.
The little tin boat went as soon as the dock instructors informed the boat driver there was just the right amount of slack to ‘hit it’ and go. The zoom of the little engine roared as I felt the rope tighten and the pull of the boat on my arms. I remember just trying to keep the skis straight and keep upright, but upright and attached I did manage to do. I was water skiing!
I remember the boat heading up the lake in the direction of my cabin, and then take a very wide turn to head back towards the dock. They said they wouldn’t take me far on my first time.
I cannot even explain to you in words properly the exhilaration I felt as I got up that first time. The sunshine was streaming on my face, my long red hair was blown back, my knees were most likely shaking like a leaf, but still managing to stay straight, and I was having the time of my life. That first taste of water skiing was so memorable and I will never forget the sensations in my mind. Gliding across the water feeling free, and having the wonderful sense of self-accomplishment were huge emotions that stay with me today every time I remember that day.
I have snow skied in my life, but I will never feel the same fondness for snow skiing as I do with the thrill of gliding across the waters of my beautiful lake. To me somehow heading down a slippery hill with more brakes on than not, feeling slightly but always out of control, is not the same as letting a boat take you places, gliding freely, with the warmth of a bright sunny day. Even better is water skiing in the early morning, when the lake surface is like glass and it feels like you are sliding along effortlessly on velvet.
I water skied for many years, but sadly now, have given it up, however, in my youth, I loved to ski. We needed to have our own skies, and so my dad bought us some lovely children’s-sized blue fiberglass skis, which I still have today. They even had one ski built with the fin so a child could slalom ski. For many years so many youngsters have used these skis, they are so much easier for the smaller bodies of children to manage. I never wanted to transition to bigger skis as I grew up, because I loved the manoeuvrability I had using the shorter skis, but, we do all grow up, and so I started using adult skis. There are still quite a few in the ski graveyard locked up at the cabin.
My husband insisted I learn to slalom ski, even though I adored the craziness and freedom of two skis. (One year I bought him a specially designed a personally made-to-order ski as a birthday gift, it was a beautiful ski with gorgeous strips of wood built to order for the skier based on their size, weight and athletic and performance abilities.) I did not like the cutting, or leaning, so I never really was a great slalom skier even though I did ski often on one ski. My love was skimming across a boat wake, becoming airborne, and seeing how loud of a slap my skis would make as I hit the water on the other side of the wake. That was my bliss.
Today I still have all the water skiing memories, but I will never forget that first incredible ski my lake. It was a special life moment I will always cherish.