By Joe Bachman
For 51 years now, The Wisconsin Rapids Aqua Skiers have humbly hosted the Wisconsin State Waterski Show — an honor attributed to the growing family of waterski teams.
In 1967, tournament founder Jack Lukes also headed the Aqua Skiers, and the tournament has been held at various locations in Wisconsin Rapids ever since. According to Aqua Skiers Member Vice President Maggie Muleski, this is a feat that could not have possibly been done alone without the support of other teams.
“The show’s community is like one big family,” said Muleski. “Before the days of social media it was our time to get together — this is like a big family reunion for all the ski teams.”
Wisconsin is its own region for competitive waterskiing, unlike other places around the country. As many as 27 teams have competed in past tournaments, and this year will feature 24. With three divisions competing across four days, it marks not only competition, but unity and education, as many teams will watch and learn from others, as well as ski with them.
“The one thing about our tournament that is different from the others is that it’s not just a tournament, it’s like a school,” said Muleski. “One team goes to another team and skis with them for a show — and that’s another thing; it’s a community — nobody is afraid to teach the next guy a new thing. We want everybody to be better.”
The Aqua Skiers, along with the Rock Aqua Jays are the only two teams to compete in every state tournament. The Aqua Skiers are the defending Division II champions, winning their first state championship in 1983. They have won seven championships overall across divisions, capturing their first Division I crown in 2001.