21Country: Indiana’s only competitive water ski show team
The Lake City Skiers put on impressive act at Hidden Lake in Warsaw every season
WARSAW, Ind. (WPTA21) - The Lake City Skiers is a group made up of all ages, capable of impressive acrobats — all on water. Chuck McLaughlin founded the show ski team in 1989. They perform at Hidden Lake in Warsaw, competing in the Division I National Championship. “The competition drives us to put on a better show for the spectators here at home, as well as the judges at competition,” McLaughlin said. “Everything kind of plays off each other and gives a lot better experience for the home crowd.”
Ages of athletes range from five to over sixty. “It’s a sport that every person in the family can be involved in,” he added. “Whether it be in support, whether it be skiing, some people’s parents work in the concession stand, some roll ropes, some set skis — so it’s kind of an all-around family activity.” McLaughlin’s grandson Aaron, skis in nine out of the show’s thirteen acts. Tricks include four-tier pyramids, freestyle jumping, barefoot skiing, wakeboarding, and swivel skiing. And each year the theme of the show changes. This year, it’s The Lion King. “It’s just really good family entertainment,” McLaughlin explained. “We have two announcers on stage, and they guide you through the show. It’s all done, choreographed to music with costumes and everything.”
Aaron McLaughlin has learned a lot in just his few years of competitive show skiing. “I think it’s something that scratches the itch of adrenaline junkies for sure,” he shared. “We all love what we do. We don’t get paid to do this. All our shows are free. We do this simply because we love doing it. We appreciate all the support we get.”
The younger McLaughlin, is one of dozens of people who make The Lake City Skiers possible. “It takes an army!” assistant show director Brett Allwine told us. “If I had to guess without counting, I would say there’s like 100 people on the team. 50 are skiers, 50 are support personnel.” Other roles include working concessions — the team’s only source of funding — costumes, equipment, dock management, driving the boats, etc. “A lot of these kids out here are really young, and they’re trying new things,” he continued. Inevitably, falling is a big part of learning the skill. “They just get back up, brush themselves up, and get up and keep doing it again — because they have a passion for it like I do.”
Elle Laursen has performed for a decade with her family. Her favorite acts were with her father, who still does impressive tricks today. “I’ve pretty much grown up here, and around these people,” she explained. “I’ve changed a lot in my role. I started when I was really little, doing simple things that everyone starts out with, and now I’ve grown so much into the more difficult roles.” Laursen told us she’s been in every spot on the four-tier pyramid. “There will be at least something in the show, you’ll be like ‘wow’!”
One of the more experienced performers, is Tracey Patrick. She married into a family who was already active on the team, and became heavily involved herself. At 57-years-old, she’s still a valuable member on the water. “I think as long as you love it, and you’re physically okay to do it… why not!” She told us. “We are the only competitive water skiing team in Indiana, which is kind of unique.”
After the season concludes in September, McLaughlin and the others begin planning for next year. “We pick a theme, write a script, choose some music, design costumes,” he shared. They practice indoor during the winter, and on-site during the spring. “As soon as it’s warm enough to get in the water? It’s go time!”
If you’d like to catch a performance, you can do so at Hidden Lake August 21, 28 and September 4 at 6:30 p.m. The All Star Show is Saturday, September 17. The shows are free to attend. You can find additional information on the Lake City Skiers via their website here.
The 2022 National Water Ski Show Team Tournament was held last weekend at Loves Park, Illinois. Over 2,500 athletes competed. Next year, the coveted competition will be held in Warsaw — bringing thousands of ski show performers and fans to 21Country.
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