In 1966, after much debate around the world about who, when, and where water skiing originated, it was officially declared by the American Water Ski Association and accepted by other worldwide water ski organizations that it was indeed Ralph Samuelson, July 2, 1922, in Lake City, Minnesota who invented water skiing. No one has been able to predate any claim to that fact.
In addition to being the first person ever to ski on water [July 2, 1922], Ralph did it here in Lake City, thus making Lake City the ‘Birthplace of Water Skiing.’ He also was the first to be pulled behind an airplane and at the then mind-boggling speed of 80 mph, thus the fastest man on water skis for who knows how long? He first skied behind an airplane in August of 1925.
Ralph never wore a life vest while water skiing [not smart, but true].
It’s estimated that when being pulled behind the airplane, Ralph would jump the wake and sometimes fly as much as 50 feet in the air.
Ralph performed many water skiing exhibitions here in Lake City for which the City would charge an admission fee. Ralph was never paid any money for his Lake City Exhibitions and insisted the money be used to buy land which is now Marina Point, Ohuta Park, and the site of the Lake City Marina.
Ralph was also the first to jump off of a floating water ski jump and land on water.
Ralph was the first water skier to ever ski on one ski. He truly was a daredevil on two boards.
There are about 9,000,000 water skiing enthusiasts around the world.
Held the last full weekend in June (June 23-26, 2022), Water Ski Days celebrates the invention of water skiing in Lake City, and its inventor, Ralph Samuelson. Be sure to join us for all the festivities!
This city-wide event has something for everyone! A carnival, complete with rides and games, an arts and crafts fair with 100+ vendors, a grand parade, classic car show, food trucks, huge concerts, and of course, water ski show teams!
In 2022 we celebrate the 50th year of the festival and 100 years as “The Birthplace of Water Skiing” with 4 days of fun, featuring Water Ski 100 programming presented by Hearth and Home Technologies. You’ll want to mark your calendars early and start planning today!