Watching a water-ski show team perform can be both fun and exciting. For decades, thousands of people each summer rush down to beaches all across America to watch water ski shows. Members within the ski teams span all ages and skiing abilities. Members as young as five years all the way to skiers in their eighties may be involved in the show. Perhaps it's the pyramids, the jumping, or maybe the outrageous looking costumes and makeup which leads crowds to gather; or maybe it's the beach, warm summer weather, and friends. Whatever each individual's reason for watching a live water ski-show, a small amount of knowledge about how each act works may better their experience and understanding of show-skiing even more. There are three main sections of a typical water-ski show - beginning, middle, and end - with each section comprised of multiple acts. This paper will explain in detail how each individual act is performed within the three main sections of a show.
1. Beginning Acts
The first act, generally, in any water-ski show is the Opening Pyramid. Reaching heights of over twenty feet above the water, these human pyramids are truly spectacular. They consist of as many as five layers of skiers and up to forty people.
The pyramid is built as skiers climb onto the shoulders of the skiers below them until the final pyramid is achieved. The base, or bottom layer of skiers, are the strongest and heaviest in order to support the weight above them and are usually males; these are the skiers who hold the rope handles, holding all the weight, connected to the water-ski boat. The next layer of the pyramid usually consists of the older (20-40 years old) and strongest of the female skiers on the team. These female skiers start on the shoulders of the bottom male skiers as they sit with their legs off the dock preparing to be pulled by the ski-boat. The third layer of skiers are younger than the second layer of skiers, and almost always girls, as flexibility and being light-weight are key components for this position. Occasionally, boys will be placed on the third layer as well. The smallest and lightest girls on the team create the final fourth or fifth layer, depending upon the height of the pyramid, and upon reaching the top, wave their flags or pompoms to the crowds. Watching skiers create human pyramids while moving on the water is truly exhilarating and suspenseful as a single slip from any one of the skiers can result in the entire pyramid's collapse.
The second act following opening pyramid is the swivel act. In water-skiing, swiveling consists of only one ski per skier. The skis for this act are specially designed so the rubber boot holding the skiers foot to the ski is able to turn in a complete circle, allowing the skier to rotate. Both flexibility and balance are essential to becoming a successful swivel skier, leaving women to claim this act for themselves. Often as many as ten skiers swivel together performing synchronized rotations and moves such as skiing backwards, rotating both clock-wise and counter clock-wise, and spinning up to 720o (two 360o rotations) without pausing. Swivel skiers begin their act from a dock where they are pulled off and onto the water by the ski-boat. In some cases they may even begin with nothing but their toes holding the rope (fig. 3). Watching these talented women displaying both their amazing skiing and acrobatic skills will leave the viewer wishing for more, as many of these acts are tremendously difficult.