water skis


Courtesy the Minnesota Historical Society

water skis
Ralph Samuelson
  • Game Design
  • Product Design

On the eve of his nineteenth birthday Ralph Samuelson invented water skis and water skiing. Samuelson had been experimenting with various methods of aquaplaning (standing on a board while being pulled by a boat) but sought an experience that was closer to snow skiing. After trying different types of skis, including barrel staves, he used a pair of wooden boards eight feet long and nine inches wide that had been steamed and turned up on the front edge. Using this design and an optimal position leaning back, he succeeded. Although water skiing was often associated with Dick Pope, Sr., and his theme park Cypress Gardens in Florida, the sport found its birthplace in Lake City, Minnesota, on the shores of Lake Pepin, a wide bulge of the Mississippi River.