July 27, 2006 at 8:26 a.m.
Like many area residents, they live on a lake (Green) and enjoy the advantages of lakeside living. This family has a more-than-casual interest in one of those advantages...waterskiing.
The Olson family has been part of the Little Crow Ski Team, headquartered in New London, Minnesota for a long time. They travel the 140 miles to New London to participate in the weekly show the team creates most summer Friday nights.
Sherry no longer skis in the show, but contributes as a “safety rider.” She rides in one of the boats and keeps an eye on the skiers. Should one of them fall or have some other problem, she pulls a release and the skier (or skiers) attached to that rope is temporarily left behind, while the other skiers continue to entertain the spectators.
Husband Roger, who’s been skiing competitively for 26 years, could be one of those left behind. He’s been a part of the Little Crow Team for 11 years. Roger admits to being the oldest skier on the team, “by 13 years.”
Why travel all that way to waterski? “Because we wanted to ski with the best,” was Roger’s answer. The couple’s two sons were also members of the team.
Older son, Tim started with Little Crow and skied professionally at Disney World. He died in a non-skiing incident four years ago. Three former team members, including younger son Dan, a 2005 CLHS graduate, are currently skiing at Sea World in San Antonio, Texas. Dan will spend the winter in Florida, attending college and working in a waterski show on weekends.
The Little Crow Club is composed of about 70 skiers and perhaps 80 support personnel. The skiers are pulled by the club’s six towboats. The team also uses two pickup craft that are used to pick up skis, fallen skiers, etc. Two of the towboats are each powered by three 225 horsepower outboard motors. The remaining four towboats use 330 horsepower inboard engines. Roger said the team also has, “At least 100 pairs of skis and miles of ropes.”
In addition to performing in shows, the team also competes in tournaments. “At a tournament, you have one hour to do a minimum of 14 acts,” the veteran skier continued. “Acts include barefooting, wakeboarding, jumping, doubles (guys supporting girls on their shoulders), pyramids and swivel skiing.” In swivel skiing, the ski goes straight ahead and one of the girls performs a variety of turns and acrobatic moves. Bearings between the ski and the binding enable the skiers to swivel.
The Little Crow Team performs a variety of pyramids. “In show skiing, it’s the height of the pyramid that gets points,” Roger continued. Little Crow does a “five high” pyramid. “Only four teams in the nation do a five high pyramid. We were the only one to do it in the National Show last year.” When doing the “five high,” some of the guys need to support the weight of two-and-a-half girls in the rows above them.
One of the pyramids the team does starts with four pre-built pyramids as the boat pulls them from the dock. Once the act begins, the girls climb down to water level and then rebuild “four high” pyramids. “The largest one we’ve ever done was 42 people...behind one boat.”
The Little Crow Ski Team was the National Champion Show team in 1994 and 1998. It was third in 2005. To get a chance to win another championship, Little Crow will have to qualify at the Regional in Albert Lea July 29-30. If it does, the team will compete in the Nationals in Janesville, Wisconsin August 11-13.