Sports | July 1, 2022 2:55 pm

This Summer Marks the 100th Anniversary of Water Skiing

A statue will commemorate the occasion

Water skiing
A popular activity turns 100 this month.
Tobia Sola/Unsplash

There are certain outdoor activities that make a lot of sense when you think about them — swimming, for example, or even climbing trees. Others might make you pause and think for a little bit. Take water skiing. What, precisely, made someone think, “If I wore skis in the water, I’ll bet a boat moving at a certain speed could pull me behind it as I stood up?”

Well, it turns out that that first took place 100 years ago. As detailed in a new article in Smithsonian Magazine, Ralph Samuelson was the first person to successfully waterski — a moment that took place on Minnesota’s Lake Pepin on July 2, 1922. Since then, countless people — as well as multiple squirrels — have followed suit.

The anniversary of Samuelson’s proof of concept will be celebrated with the unveiling of a statue in Lake City, Minnesota.

According to an article in the StarTribune, Samuelson experimented with a host of materials before finding something that got him out of the water successfully — pine boards that weighed 15 pounds and were almost nine feet long. He also experimented with different postures before finding the ideal way to rise out of the water in a standing position. His brother, who operated the boat pulling him, assisted him in his work.

As the Smithsonian article points out, Samuelson continued water skiing for several years afterwards, but eventually had to call it a day as a result of a back injury. The activity that he created, though — that never stopped.