Waterskiiers attempt ‘twists and flips’

By Michael Sugerman

Though she didn’t consider herself to be the best waterskiier on the lake, which she attributed to poor “foot-eye coordination,” Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts was a member of the Lake Erie Rough Riders for four years of her childhood.

When she was 13-years-old, Huybrechts’ family relocated to Toledo, Ohio, where they lived on the shore of Lake Erie. There, Huybrechts, her younger siblings and their neighbors formed a tight-knit waterskiing troupe.

“I still have memories of long summer days spent on the lake, boating and skiing and swimming, and in the community club house planning our annual ski show,” Huybrechts said. “I’m absolutely not romanticizing the past when I say it was so much fun. Spending the better part of a day learning how to perform some fancy moves on skis, forgoing supper to continue skiing because the lake was calmest in the late afternoon and early evening. They were all good times.”

Despite lacking the coordination to match up with her more athletically inclined brothers and sister, Huybrechts kept herself occupied by designing costumes and decorative flags spelling L.E.R.R (the group’s initials).

“My experience with the Lake Erie Rough Riders was rewarding nonetheless, because I learned some things about myself,” she said. “First, I learned that there was something I was very good at: supporting talented people. The good skiers, in this case. And second, that I loved being part of a team — a team that worked purposefully toward the goal of doing something great.”

Elle Wilson ’13 learned to waterski and wakeboard when she was 8-years-old, but she prefers to waterski. She said she fell in love with the sport when she tried it at Camp Tockwogh, a camp for water sports in Maryland. She enjoys slalom most, in which skiers use one ski rather than two to quickly cut back and forth across wake.

“It’s just a thrill when you’re going really fast and doing hard turns,” she said. “Every time you do it, you just want to do it more.”

Wilson also does some “trick skiing,” turning rapidly in midair and propelling herself off of wake.

“I can do 360s and 180s on trick skis,” she said. “I’m not as good at that yet. Wakeboarding I can do jumps and 180s. I think I got a 360 once. For slalom skiing though, it’s less about the tricks and more about the quality of turns and how hard you can cut out and go about perfecting technique. You can still do some cool tricks with slalom skis. I can do a toehold, where I let go of the strap and put my foot in it. But that’s more for show.”

Ben Gaylord ’13 wakeboards and waterskis during the summer. Like Wilson, he began when he was 8-years-old, though he skis less frequently.

He has waterskied on the Colorado River, at a family friend’s private lake in Greensboro, NC and in Big Bear. He prefers the Colorado River and has been there four or five times.

“The weather is nicest there,” he said. “It’s really hot, so when you get in the water it’s really refreshing. And it’s really exhilarating. When you waterski, you’re moving really fast. At least with slalom skiing, it’s also really technical so you can get better and cut across wake more easily.”

He has also tried wakeskating simply for fun, which is like wakeboarding without the binding.

Because of this freedom, he decided not to focus on technique, rather jumping off waves of wake, hurling his body into the air and attempting twists and flips.