My mind was working to come up with another first in skiing that wouldn’t be quite as risky as new moves on the air board. I wanted to do a tandem flip on my Sky Ski. Not two people flipping separately at the same time – two people flipping on the same device. The Sky Ski seemed the logical choice. It is the easiest thing to flip in all of water skiing, and riders over 200 pounds were able to ride with relative ease. Jon Wilborn had already tried the tandem flip with his son a few times, but they were not able to ride away. So I talked to Ron Stack about making a board with a seat and footstraps for both riders. Ron is a mad genius in his shop, and in no time he came up with the first luge Sky Ski. He used a lowered seat tower for the second rider, and placed it just in front of the main seat tower. Next he mounted a piece of plywood with bindings so the primary (rear) rider could get their feet into a pair of bindings just outside the regular set up used by the front rider.
Ron and I were our own crash test dummies. I used a pair of double handles as the rear rider and Ron used a single handle as the front rider. It was super easy to get up, and we laughed uncontrollably at the ridiculousness of our new creation. The jokes were hot and heavy from Mike about us being a little too close during the ride, but we didn’t care because we were having fun. My idea for the tandem flip wasn’t working out with the luge foil, but it was a great way to get others up on the water to experience the thrill of flight. Ron took out his mom and mother in law for fun rides even though they both had never ridden a Sky Ski. I went out dressed up a Santa Claus with my wife Shonna for a great Christmas card picture.
Having fun with my wife Shonna on the “Luge Chair” (Kingman, 1997)
My dream to be the first in water skiing to do a tandem flip did not die. I used a backpack as a “frontpack” stuffed with 60 pounds of rocks to simulate a small rider who would be grabbing me chest to chest with arms and legs wrapped around. The extra weight really shifted the center of gravity and made throwing the gainers considerably different. I rode several times with my six-year-old son, but we only did jumps. My plan was to do the big move during an all day ski event, but the water was too cold, and I was too tired to risk it. Somehow the dream slipped away as my son got bigger, but someone out there is sure to do it if it hasn’t happened already.
Images (used with permission)
“Adventures in Water Skiing: Part 3, Hydrofoiling – Cover,” photo: Ian Lauder, 1999.
Luge Chair – Tony & Shonna Klarich,” photo: Kelly Kingman, 1997.
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