DETROIT LAKES — As the sport of waterskiing celebrates its 100th anniversary, a free show is scheduled at Vergas on Saturday, June 18 from 4-5 p.m. on the city beach.
The Detroit Lakes-based North Stars water ski show team will perform. Entertainment for all ages includes skiers creating a pyramid, forming a ballet line, performing tricks like 180 degree spins and more.
The North Stars Water Ski Team was formed in 2019 by Detroit Lakes residents Twila and Ron Beyer, who saw the opportunity to share a sport that enriched their lives.
Twila Beyer, who grew up skiing on Lake Franklin, went on to ski for a show at SeaWorld in Ohio and then Krazy Kel’s Water Ski Extravaganza in Australia, to name a few. She has competed in national championships, even winning first place in 2017 with a team from Orlando, Florida.
Her husband is a pro at driving specialty water ski boats that have inboard motors amidships. Drivers are required to complete safety training and obtain the necessary licenses and certifications to drive for water ski teams.
Show team skier Lin Peterson explained that half a mile per hour in either direction can impact performance. He applauded the team boat drivers for knowing the sweet spot for speed with every lap and every routine they perform during the show.
Peterson joined the North Stars Water Ski Show team after being approached by the Beyers. The 61-year-old was teaching children how to ski through a Christian ministry and the Beyers were driving by where the event was taking place. After a little chat, Peterson decided to give the show team a try.
“I’ve been a water ski enthusiast since I was 8 years old,” he said. “I’ve skied competitively, which includes tricks, jumps and slalom. I did all three and was better in slalom and tricks. Ski racing is completely different, it’s a team sport.
For example, Peterson said his first event was part of the pyramid. The training began on land.
“If you can’t do it on land, you can’t do it on water,” he said, adding that once the steps were explained it made sense, but then games of spirit began. “That was the biggest challenge for me. It was hard for me to imagine how we would take off from the dock with a 110-pound girl on my shoulders.
For most who join the North Stars Water Ski Team, the possibilities are endless, with practice and expert guidance from the Beyers and more experienced team members.
Currently, the team of 15 people trains every Tuesday evening and Saturday morning. The ages of the group range from 10 to over 60. Members come from Detroit Lakes, Perham and surrounding communities.
Sophia Simonon is the youngest member this year. The 10-year-old said her parents suggested she learn to water ski. After seeing how much fun it was, the daughter of Tammie and Todd Simison, owners of TS Dock and Lift, met a member of the ski show team. After an invitation to join a firm, Simon was hooked.
“One day I want to use the pivot skis,” she says.
Team member Brooke Sonsalle is currently learning pivot skis and getting ready to take on a 180 degree turn. The 15-year-old Perham resident, who is a sophomore at New York Mills High School, said focus was key.
“Waterskiing is fun and has health benefits,” Nick and Angela Sonsalla’s daughter said. “It helped me get good posture and make friends.”
The North Stars water ski team held their first show last year in Vergas during the Looney Days festival, which drew more than 300 spectators. More shows at Vergas are scheduled for Sunday, July 24 from 4-5 p.m. and two shows during the Looney Days festival on August 12 and 13.
The team is open to doing more shows, and anyone interested can call the Beyers at (407) 729-5872 or contact them on their Facebook page,
Water skiing celebrates its 100th anniversary
According to the 100th anniversary issue of “The WaterSkier” magazine, the fun of water skiing began when Ralph Samuelson decided to strap barrels to his feet 100 years ago. His attempt to ride the barrels on the water behind a boat failed, as did his next attempt with snow skis.
Eventually, Samuelson decided if he was going to ride on the water he needed to build the ski. He went to the lumber store and bought two boards, which were eight feet long and nine inches wide. The tips were boiled, bent and left to harden. Scraps of leather were used to make toe straps. For the tow rope, a belt cord was used and attached to an iron ring wrapped in black tape.
With his newly made skis and ski rope, Samuelson headed out to Lake Pepin in Lake City, Minnesota on June 28 with his brother, who was driving the boat. It was the day before Samuelson’s 19th birthday and he got up to ride on the water.
Prior to Sameulson’s death in August 1977, he refined the ski by moving the foot straps forward to give the skier more control. He also took his show on the road and became the first water ski jumper, starting a new branch of freestyle skiing.