- The Chain Skimmers Water Ski Team from Conover won the state title for their division last weekend in Wisconsin Rapids. Summer water ski shows are a wonderful part of the Spirit of the North.
"I don't know how to spend the summer anywhere else," said Jessica Clark.
She is one of about 35 skiers between the ages of 12 and 31 who spend their summers on Lake Pleasant in Conover. They come from Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida and Texas.
"We come together and we spend our entire summer skiing together. And we put a show together," explained Chain Skimmers co-president Karisa Carlson.
The Chain Skimmers Water Ski Show team is in its 43rd season. While the costumes have changed, the foundation of the team hasn't.
"This is my family. I mean, this is some of the best friends I've made," explained barefooter Liz Flaherty.
The family just celebrated another milestone; winning the state title for the first time since 1976.
"We had a lot of room to grow and a lot of room for improvement this year and I think we really stepped up and were able to do that," explained Clark.
"The reason why it's so exciting for us is because at that tournament, we're kind of the underdogs. Because you'll see at that tournament that most of the ski teams in the area they have four to five to six towboats - the boats that pull the skiers. They'll have anywhere between 50 and 80 skiing members along with all the family. They're from bigger towns," Carlson said.
But the underdogs have proved they can pretty much accomplish anything they want.
"In 1979 we bought this site and we made our last mortgage payment in '94," explained Carlson of the Chain Skimmer's Lake Pleasant location.
They bought the lake and the 107 acres surrounding it.
"Two banks in Eagle River financed this site for a group of 30 kids, you know, all under the age of 25 years old. That's just unheard of. So I think that's where they pride comes from because they did it on their own," said Flaherty.
It's that pride that drives the team members to put in well more than the 16 hours a week they spend on the water.
"We're working together to run a business so there are challenges and it's taught a lot of us how to be leaders and how to be in charge of things that no other organization I can think of would expose you to," added Carlson.
But they say that's all worth it to be a member of the team.
"To come in and see the audience, and know that you've impressed them and just like made their evening or vacations better, I don't know. It's a good feeling," added Flaherty.
The Chain Skimmers perform Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 7 p.m. in the summer. The team is looking for more junior club members. Some of those members go onto become Chain Skimmer team members. They're offering a "take your kid skiing" day this Sunday to introduce more people to the club. It runs from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Lake Pleasant in Conover. It's free and open to all ages. All you have to do is bring a life jacket. You can even get free junior club membership for next summer.
Chain Skimmers Water Ski Show Team Info
|Story By: Lauren Stephenson