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Who is the best water skier you ever saw?

Wheeler

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I guess a lot of people have forgotten the details of Churchill's crash at Long Beach Marine Stadium. If anybody still has a very old Powerboat Magazine (May 1974) laying around, I did a six-page story with photos of the crash.
I remember reading your article, the picture of the riser line is embedded in my memory. I might even have that issue packed away.
 

SKIA36

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I guess a lot of people have forgotten the details of Churchill's crash at Long Beach Marine Stadium. If anybody still has a very old Powerboat Magazine (May 1974) laying around, I did a six-page story with photos of the crash. Way too much information to give here but the "Reader's Digest" version goes something like this. Danny set a new quarter mile speed record of 126 mph at an NDBA drag race at the old Oakland Airport course in spring of 1972 pulled by Mac Christensen. He knew this was an incredibly dangerous sport and was offered an opportunity to try out a new parachute pack which would help him decelerate and be pulled back away from the ski in the event of a crash. He tested the new device with good success. Then came October 22, 1972 (he won the Catalina ski race that previous August) at Long Beach Marine Stadium. He was paid $300 for the exhibition and an additional $200 if he broke the record. Everything was out of synch for him that day....he arrived way behind schedule to the Stadium -- no time to prepare -- he never got a chance to talk to his driver (Christensen) before the run. About 100 feet before the end of the course, Danny got pulled over the front of his ski at 120+. He did a snap forward somersault so quickly that the shroud lines of the parachute went between his legs and then the parachute opened. The injuries were catastrophic -- his pelvis was split over 13 inches and damage to internal organs extensive. He lost over 13 pints of blood before he got to the hospital. He was at Long Beach Community for eleven weeks and he wasn't getting better (pneumonia, extensive hemorrhaging, allergic reactions to medication, bed sores, etc.). Fortunately he was finally transferred to UCLA Medical Center for more surgeries. Eight months after the crash, and still on crutches, he skied at the River with the help of some friends. After 18 months and 16 separate surgeries he was finally able to resume a near normal life and that's when he sat down for the interview for the story. He never returned to ski racing as a competitor, but he did regain most of his skills and was (and still is) one of the best hot-dog skiers of all time.
This past summer at Mead, teaching youngsters to do helicopters.
 

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skifaster

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I've heard so many stories of great all around skiers. But I'll comment on the ones I've seen personally.

Billy Johnson from Lake Arrowhead - he was a good ski racer, but watching him fun ski was amazing. As smooth as I've seen. Watching him pull off helicopters without hesitation and keeping his rhythm while cutting. Awesome.

Morgan O'Dell from Lake Arrowhead - probably one of the most naturally gifted all around water skiers I've ever seen.

Ron Gayman - Flips, tic tocks, he could do everything. Became a very good ski racer too.

Todd Haig - best all around skier (fun skiing and racing), that I have seen. Watching him fun ski, he is effortless. When it comes to racing, it doesn't matter if it is rough or smooth. He has no weakness.

Mac McKenzie - Never got to watch him water ski, but I worked for him at his ski school in Arrowhead for several years. Seen pictures and heard stories. That man has so much respect from all of us growing up in Arrowhead. His wife Lucy was a great skier as well.
 

SKIA36

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Mac and Lucy Mckenzie
I am willing to bet those pictures are from the 50's. How many people do you know that Footed in the 50's? Lucy has a bunch of ski pics on the wall at Woodys boat house.

Awesome pics Kaitlin!
 
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2manymustangs

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Butch & Chuck dominated the jr. boy's class in tournament skiing ( trick, jump & slalom ) back in the 1950's, AND both were THE top men's open ski racers in the ' 60's. The day this pic was taken I won the men's open race at Parker, Butch walked down to our boat to congratulate me on the win :thumbsup. As evidenced by this photo I didn't "out muscle" him Or the rest of the guy's :D,..............I'm pretty sure I was the only one that didn't crash & burn :D. When I was in vietnam I got a call from home and my Pop's told me Butch had died from his head injury after being hit by a car while he was on a bicycle :(..........he was one class act :thumbsup
Are you sure thats not Tony Danza??? :D
 

Vesteys

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The best all round skier I have seen is Roy Mawer ( Wayne's Dad ) . He used to be virtually unbeatable in the ocean races and could ride palings and free board skis ( ski without bindings ) like he was on a race ski .
 

skiracer411

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Many many many! Todd is by far one of the best! Corey Cook too.

But... Johnny Belvail, Denise Magrin, Pat Marino, Randy Hill
 

luvskiracin

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I watched Mike Avila for years and years dominate ski racing like nobody has.He was a force in the Men's Open as a teenager in the 70's.The only skier to beat Robbie Woods in 1977.He beat the unbeatable Mike Dixon in 1976 and went on to win almost every race he started in the 80's.First speed skier only inducted into the Water Ski Hall of Fame in 2002.He could run into 35 off every pass on a course and I have seen him run 3 at 38 off at Cal Cup. He was doing flips on a play ski back in the 70's and he and Whipple would ski two up and take turn's doing helicopters like they were nothing.He could barefoot like a wild man and still does today even with his bad arm. I watched him last summer run a course wrapped up at 22 off and did a mule kick as he passed the exit gates !! He is by far the best I have seen. I also think Byron Whipple was awesome as well !!
 

schiadart73

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I watched Mike Avila for years and years dominate ski racing like nobody has.He was a force in the Men's Open as a teenager in the 70's.The only skier to beat Robbie Woods in 1977.He beat the unbeatable Mike Dixon in 1976 and went on to win almost every race he started in the 80's.First speed skier only inducted into the Water Ski Hall of Fame in 2002.He could run into 35 off every pass on a course and I have seen him run 3 at 38 off at Cal Cup. He was doing flips on a play ski back in the 70's and he and Whipple would ski two up and take turn's doing helicopters like they were nothing.He could barefoot like a wild man and still does today even with his bad arm. I watched him last summer run a course wrapped up at 22 off and did a mule kick as he passed the exit gates !! He is by far the best I have seen. I also think Byron Whipple was awesome as well !!
Chuck Stearns was the first ski racer inducted in the first HOF class! Also, if a panel of ski racers were nominating than a few more people would have been inducted before Mike and Marsha.

My list:

Butch Petersen
Mike Murphy
Danny Churchill
Craig Wendt
Lenard Schiada
Nick Barron
Kurt Schoen ( yes Kurt )
Janie Welch
Sally Younger
Joanie Martini - still believe the best womens skier/athlete there ever was

Lenard & Nick for their impact on ski racing. I believe I saw the manufactures for Mastercraft and Natique in the HOF.
 

schiadart73

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Chuck Stearns was the first ski racer inducted in the first HOF class! Also, if a panel of ski racers were nominating than a few more people would have been inducted before Mike and Marsha.

My list:

Butch Petersen
Mike Murphy
Danny Churchill
Craig Wendt
Lenard Schiada
Nick Barron
Kurt Schoen ( yes Kurt )
Janie Welch
Sally Younger
Joanie Martini - still believe the best womens skier/athlete there ever was

Lenard & Nick for their impact on ski racing. I believe I saw the manufactures for Mastercraft and Natique in the HOF.
Adding:

Rudy Ramos ( Rayson Craft )

Drivers:

Gary Steele
Norm Wilson
Ron Wilson

Observers:

Bill Kent
Roy Weiser
 

Vesteys

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Old school ski racers -

Danny Bertels
Wayne Ritchie
Wayne Atta
Hardaker Brothers
Ray Wheeler
Ray Dipple
Rory Brown
 

LV R SCHIADA'S

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I am surprised that nobody mention the DuValls, Sammy & Camile, they were my heros back in the day, back when you had to excel in all three disciplines, salomn, trick & jump, also the Lapoint Brothers were awesome to watch, still have thier VHS videos.
 

luvskiracin

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Schiadart73,
Chuck Stearns was inducted into the water ski hall of fame as a 3 event skier and noted as a speed skier. Mike was the first speed skier only Inducted into the hall of fame.I think all of those skiers and drivers are great as well but there is not one of them that has as many wins as Mike. In fact there is not a ski racer in the history of the sport to date that has as many wins as Mike.He won almost every race he entered in the 80's and that was about every race there was to enter.He won a ton of races in the 70's as well.I read where Chuck who is Mikes hero even said that there was no skier with the sheer power and ability as Mike.Also there was a panel of speed ski racers that put Mike into the hall. Every person has there skier or racer that they think is the best and for so many years I have seen him win and even beat me many times, that I just thiunk he is the best I have ever seen and the kind of guy that is racing.He is a racers racer the kind of guy that never stops trying to win.
 

Richo

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Having read names such as Tony Klarich and Mike Murphy mentioned I am surprised they know one has nominated Brett Wing as possibly the best all round skier of all time.

Another skier from Ohio originally who was very talented was Dave "The Dog" Reinhart. Did alot of stunt skiing in movies including Police Academy 5 and James Bond Film Live and Let Die.
 

Skyskier

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Adding:

Rudy Ramos ( Rayson Craft )

Drivers:

Don Scales *
Gary Steele
Norm Wilson
Ron Wilson

Observers:

Bill Kent
Roy Weiser
Hope ya don't mind, I "fixed" that drivers list for ya :D Just wanted to give my Pop's his due :thumbsup
carry on :)
 

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Take The Long Way Home

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Mike Suyderhoud was the best that I saw, back in the 80's I went to his ski school on Lake Shasta in Redding, Calif and I was not very good but I had a great time.
 

Boat737

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From my younger years...
All around -- Chuck Sterns
Slalom -- Kris LaPoint
Speed Ski -- Mason Thompson (gone before his time)
Play Ski -- Jimmy Cadam and Mike Murphy

If my memory is correct, this is a shot of Mason at Marine Stadium, I think late 70's. He was in his teens. On the outside behind Suddenly #157. I couldn't believe they could make a 300 foot turn with a 200 foot rope. It looked like the skier was still northbound after the boat had turned southbound.
 

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Boat737

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Mike Suyderhoud was the best that I saw, back in the 80's I went to his ski school on Lake Shasta in Redding, Calif and I was not very good but I had a great time.
I remember Suyderhoud. I used to ski with Ken White in the mid 70's in Hawaii ('64 world trick champion) and when Mike was in town, Ken always called him "Sloppy-houd".
 

River Lynchmob

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From my younger years...
All around -- Chuck Sterns
Slalom -- Kris LaPoint
Speed Ski -- Mason Thompson (gone before his time)
Play Ski -- Jimmy Cadam and Mike Murphy

If my memory is correct, this is a shot of Mason at Marine Stadium, I think late 70's. He was in his teens. On the outside behind Suddenly #157. I couldn't believe they could make a 300 foot turn with a 200 foot rope. It looked like the skier was still northbound after the boat had turned southbound.
If they are sking wrapped up it would have to be the early 80s at the earliest.
 

skifaster

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From my younger years...
All around -- Chuck Sterns
Slalom -- Kris LaPoint
Speed Ski -- Mason Thompson (gone before his time)
Play Ski -- Jimmy Cadam and Mike Murphy

If my memory is correct, this is a shot of Mason at Marine Stadium, I think late 70's. He was in his teens. On the outside behind Suddenly #157. I couldn't believe they could make a 300 foot turn with a 200 foot rope. It looked like the skier was still northbound after the boat had turned southbound.
This looks like Mason on the outside. Mason was 16 in 1984 when he won Catalina Overall skiing as a Junior Boy. I am sure this picture is from sometime in the 80's. Mason was an awesome skier and a great guy.
 

Boat737

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This looks like Mason on the outside. Mason was 16 in 1984 when he won Catalina Overall skiing as a Junior Boy. I am sure this picture is from sometime in the 80's. Mason was an awesome skier and a great guy.
If they are sking wrapped up it would have to be the early 80s at the earliest.
You are probably correct about the year. I didn't have it recorded, so I really don't know. It seems to me that I remember he was 14 at that event, but the picture didn't look like a 14 year old. I also couldn't believe how fast he was at such a young age.

As for the aussie wrap, I did a little searching, and Craig Wendt started using it in 1974 (according to a Spray's Water Ski article in '82). Everything I find from 80 and 81 shows most if not all skiers wrapped up. So it looks like somewhere between 1975 and 1980 that style really took off.
 

twocents

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If memory serves me correct, Paul McManis, one of Australia's top Men's Open skiers in the early 1970s, skied the Catalina race in 1972 or 1973 using the wrapped style. A lot of the American skiers tried it after that and liked it. A number of skiers in the Lake Arrowhead Water Ski Club in the mid to late 1960s used a variation of the "wrap" when they were out practicing and play skiing just to reduce fatigue, but they didn't race like that until some years later.
 

SKIA36

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Danny Aldridge(JAA CBA) skied as a competetor and good friend of Mason. He would know the year and age ! I think Danny was right behind him when he won the CSR.
 
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Meadsnake

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You guys are biased as my driver and observer, but I could always use more hats.
 

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JAA_CBA

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Danny Aldrich(JAA CBA) skied as a competetor and good friend of Mason. He would know the year and age ! I think Danny was right behind him when he won the CSR.
I don't know the year and age because I would say that is not Mason. I think I saw him ski more than anyone other than his observer. We were born in '68, so if it was in the late 70's, we were still under 12 and that is not a 12 year old. Also, not a jacket or wet suit he ever wore. I would say that looks like Matt Johnson, big arms.

I wouldn't say I was right behind him when he won in '84, I got 2nd in the Jr. boy category but was a way back, not a good year for me. I won the Jr boy category in '83 with him right behind me. In '85, my last year skiing, he skied in the Mens Open class and I was Intermediate Men, I finished right behind him. We had many years and many races of us finishing next to each other, the '84 Catalina wasn't one of them.

As far as the Aussie style skiing, I would say the real shift came in 1980. There might have been a few guys doing it before that, but that was the year most of the top skiers finally switched.

Dan
 

SKIA36

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When did Chandler come out of retirement? Will he be racing Catalina next year? :thumbsup
Hey Dave, r u still skiing on the old Thorens that wanders all over the wake?:D
 

Boat737

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I don't know the year and age because I would say that is not Mason. I think I saw him ski more than anyone other than his observer. We were born in '68, so if it was in the late 70's, we were still under 12 and that is not a 12 year old. Also, not a jacket or wet suit he ever wore. I would say that looks like Matt Johnson, big arms.

I wouldn't say I was right behind him when he won in '84, I got 2nd in the Jr. boy category but was a way back, not a good year for me. I won the Jr boy category in '83 with him right behind me. In '85, my last year skiing, he skied in the Mens Open class and I was Intermediate Men, I finished right behind him. We had many years and many races of us finishing next to each other, the '84 Catalina wasn't one of them.

As far as the Aussie style skiing, I would say the real shift came in 1980. There might have been a few guys doing it before that, but that was the year most of the top skiers finally switched.

Dan
Memory is a funny thing. I know I took the pic, and I know Mason was skiing that event. After all these years, I thought it was him, but I never new him so you could be right. It wasn't a sanctioned ski race, just an exhibition at the ski drags that Endo's used to put on.
 

schiadart73

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From my younger years...
All around -- Chuck Sterns
Slalom -- Kris LaPoint
Speed Ski -- Mason Thompson (gone before his time)
Play Ski -- Jimmy Cadam and Mike Murphy

If my memory is correct, this is a shot of Mason at Marine Stadium, I think late 70's. He was in his teens. On the outside behind Suddenly #157. I couldn't believe they could make a 300 foot turn with a 200 foot rope. It looked like the skier was still northbound after the boat had turned southbound.
Looks like Matt Johnson and Jay Louis and I personally was skiing wrapped up in 1976, last year of 13-15 boys when there was 30+ skiers in that class alone.
 

Boat737

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If my memory is correct, this is a shot of Mason at Marine Stadium, I think late 70's. He was in his teens. On the outside behind Suddenly #157. I couldn't believe they could make a 300 foot turn with a 200 foot rope. It looked like the skier was still northbound after the boat had turned southbound.
If anyone is in touch with Billy Dunsmore, he may know, 'cause I'm still pretty sure this is his boat in the same event, same race.
 

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Meadsnake

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Steve I had to put that ski on the wall of fame. I :rotflmao:got
Tommy Gelisse
old Maha 360 I picked up from Chuck and put new HO bindings on it.
 

AFUEL7067

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Schiadart is correct looks like Matt on the outside and Jay on the inside also Mcmanus was the first I saw anybody race wrapped up but it wasnt until a few years latter Robbie Woods kicked everybodys ass behind Meyer that the masses started doing it. :rolleyes:
 
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Boat737

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Schiadart is correct looks like Matt on the outside and Jay on the inside also Mcmanus was the first I saw anybody race wrapped up but it wasnt until a few years latter Robbie Woods kicked everybodys ass behind Meyer that the masses started doing it. :rolleyes:
All these years I thought it was Mason, but 30 years is a long time to try and keep the brain cells shaking hands with one another. I hope someone comes up with the absolute certain answer.
 

Boat737

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It's Matt Johnson, they were running the long short course that weekend. Since we know the driver and the skier, who was observing?
You sure? I thought this was just an exhibition race between the ski drags. Couldn't have been more than just a few, or maybe just those two, circle racers.
 

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Wheeler

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You sure? I thought this was just an exhibition race between the ski drags. Couldn't have been more than just a few, or maybe just those two, circle racers.
I could be wrong about the races but that is Matt Johnson, his mother (Doris) told me so. :D

Now about Matt's observer, who could that be? :hmm
 

Boat737

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I could be wrong about the races but that is Matt Johnson, his mother (Doris) told me so. :D

Now about Matt's observer, who could that be? :hmm
Well, if anyone would know, it would be his mother.
 

AzGeo

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I liked Scott Pelleton (sp) because I always wanted to learn how to 'barefoot with ease' and not barefoot 'like I did it'. IMHO he did all the fun stuff, cool tricks, and still had the big ballz to go fast. I do remember a lot of guys who would 'hang on hard' at the circle races, but you all have mentioned most of them already.
 
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