First to ski in ’73

Published 5:28 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My newly formed ski club was really putting pressure on me, but this was one that would stretch my patience and quite honestly make me question my reason to form the club.

I was beginning to get a lot of flack from the general public about the club using me. I was still hearing about the “wild bunch of kids.” There I stood in the chief’s office, “hat in my hand and egg on my face.”

“What!,” he screamed, did you say ski at midnight?

But chief, it is an organized club. They are applying for a permit to hold an event lasting only a few minutes. They will have life preservers, and I will be there on duty—I was able to get it all out without taking a breath!

I walked out with a signed permit. Was I crazy? Here was the plan: At New Year’s Eve 1972, we were to meet shortly before midnight. Nobody dreamed it was going to be so cold, but they began to show up, obviously more spectators than skiers, allowing the “Lake Mitchell Seven” to have the honors. They were: Mike Smith, Jimmy McCormick, Bo Warren, Gordon Robbins, Tommy Robbins and Susan Speaks Wyatt.

Just at the stroke of midnight, they hit the water (actually a pier take-off), and of course they had no wet suits. The drop-off point was a sandy beach near-by. If this worked, they would be first to ski in ’73!

Things didn’t go perfect. Tommy Robbins sank before he got to the beach, and our prettiest one by far, Susan, crashed on take-off and quickly swam to the dock like a frightened dolphin. No style points! But they both agreed, “it were cold!”

Mike Smith, secretary for the club, notified the American Water Ski Association that the New Year’s feat had been accomplished on Lake Mitchell. Folks kidded me for years. “Why? Why would you do that?” “Ask me again when I’m 70, and I’ll tell you.”

Were we first? The worst we could have done was tie. By the way, the slogan for the next year was, “No more on ’74!”