In June of 1972 A group of La Crosse area skiers, interested in promoting the sport of water skiing, decided to form a team that was, and still is, known as the River City Water Ski Show Team. Their main goal was to promote water safety, perform ski shows during the summer, prepare skiers for competitive skiing, and to promote the sport of water skiing as a safe, family type recreation.
The first year, the club was very loosely organized. By mid-July though, the team had twenty-five members and things were starting to fit together. Regular practice sessions were scheduled with the goal of putting on a ski show by the second week of August. As luck would have it, the weather decided not to cooperate, but they kept practicing and their first show was scheduled for August 12, 1972. The original show site was on the Black River in front of The Hoffman House. A huge crowd of approximately five-hundred people arrived at the beach to watch the first show. In addition, almost forty boats anchored on the river to take in the big event. The show was a huge success and the spectators gave a great deal of enthusiastic feedback. The original organizers were ecstatic as their goal of having a water ski team was up and running.
During the first year, the boats used in practices and shows were owned by individual club members. These same members also provided all the gas, ski equipment, and any other materials that were needed. Many sponsors stepped forward that first year to help the club. The Holiday Marina let them borrow a boat to use as a safety boat and Holiday Vacation Cruises supplied the dock. The Hoffman House supplied the beach area for the practices and shows. One of the local radio stations provided publicity and a public address system. In the first year, all the members put in many long hours to make the year a success.
After the first summer of ski shows were finished, the team decided they needed to become a much more official organization if they were to continue. In late 1972, a Constitution was drafted and adopted by the club. They also became affiliated with the Wisconsin Water Ski Federation. They decided to plan for the future by having fund raising events to help cover the costs that were currently being paid by members. A new ski boat was leased from what was known at the time as Bud\s Marina While working with Western Wisconsin Technical College, a professional tripod tow bar was built and installed. Ski show plans were developed and practices were scheduled as well as additional fund raising projects. The club also decided to incorporate in an effort to protect individual club members from liability and to help the club operate more smoothly. Much of the organization has been facilitated by the generous cooperation of the Greater La Crosse Chamber of Congress, which reorganized the River City Water Ski Club as the Official Water Ski Club of the Greater La Crosse Area.
Today in 2015
Much has changed over the past 34 years. In 2015, RCWS now owns four boats, which include one Twin Rig (boat with two motors), two Mastercraft Pro Star Ski boats, and one additional boat that is used for pulling occasional ski acts and as a safety boat. Our team has grown to over seventy members including both skiers and non-skiers. During the summer, you will find us practicing our ski shows at the Airport Beach, located on French Island, near the Airport. Every Wednesday night, we perform free ski shows for local residents and tourists. In addition to our weekly shows, we perform four ski shows at the La Crosse Annual Riverfest Celebration held over the Fourth of July. We also compete in at least two show ski competitions, including the State Tournament held in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. This has become one of the largest show ski competitions in the country.
Most of our success is due to a very organized and energized group of ski members, parents, and dedicated sponsors. Without the tremendous teamwork put forth each year by these people, the growth and success of our ski team would not have been possible. Our goal is for continued growth and success of our ski team while contributing to the La Crosse Community in any way we can. Long ago, we were very fortunate to be recognized as the Official Water Ski Team of the Greater La Crosse Area. Our community has been very good to us over the last 33 years and anything we can do to promote the La Crosse Area is just our way of telling the community how thankful we are.