A new law eliminates the requirement for water skiing spottersSubmitted: 04/20/2018
Story By Mark Spillane

A new law eliminates the requirement for water skiing spotters
NORTHWOODS - Most people come to the Northwoods to enjoy our lakes and all the activities they offer, including water skiing.

But that sport can be dangerous and a new law will change the requirements designed to keep skiers safe.

Late last month Governor Walker signed a bill into law that eliminates the requirement for water skiing spotters, as long as the boat being used has the right equipment.

Some skiers around the Northwoods say the new law is a good idea, but following the old rules may still be the safest thing to do.

"When I was in the water, I was completely paralyzed. I wasn't able to help myself out of the water," said long-time water skier Chris Marion.

Eight months ago, Marion nearly died in a water skiing accident.

"There's a good chance having a spotter that day did save my life," said Marion.

Now, spotters like the one that may have saved Marion's life, won't be required by law.

"People would say: 'I can find a friend to go out with me to go water skiing so there's two of us, but we can't always find that third person'," said State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R).

Those concerns pushed the state assembly to pass a bill that will allow boaters to pull a water skier without having a spotter in the boat, as long as the driver has a mirror that provides a wide angle view.

"We looked at some other states, especially Minnesota, because they have that law that you just have two people, you only need two people for water skiing," said Tiffany.

Tiffany said studies show the rate of accidents without a spotter doesn't increase in states like Minnesota.

Hodag Water Shows skier Rod Olson said it's nice to offer skiers more freedom on the water with the new law.

"For that it's great. There [are] a lot of times when you want to go and you can't find a third and the water is perfect or whatever," said Olson.

Like Olson, Ryan Lamon has been skiing his entire life.

He agreed that skiing WITHOUT a spotter is good for some, but probably not the best idea for everyone.

"I think it's really neat for the high-end skiers to be able to do it, but I don't know that the average person or the average 'John-Q-Public,' is it's the best idea for them," said Lamon.

Like many others, Marion has skied without a spotter in the past.

He knows a spotter can not only save your life, but also make your experience better.

"I think it's definitely a good idea to continue with the way things used to be, and the more people that are on the water, the more fun you're going to have anyway," said Marion.

The bill passed the state assembly by a 63-29 vote, but doesn't say specifically what size the mirrors need to be.

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