A good water ski show is entertaining, personal and memorable, and the annual Lake Jennie Jewel Ski Show in Orlando, Florida, is all those things and more. We asked veteran show skier Curtis Rabe, the Grand Puba of this event, to show you passionate skiers how to launch a ski show in your hometown and help our great sport stand the test of time.
There’s nothing sexy about the concept of safety, but in practice it is much sexier than a trip to the hospital. Rabe advises that the event’s organizer include routines where a big fall is unlikely: “The best thing [to do] is to work with skiers that have acts that they know inside and out. A ski show isn’t a time to strike out and try something new. If the acts are solid, people will be entertained. If the acts are risky and someone gets hurt, that’s the memory the audience takes away from the event. Also, if something does happen to interrupt the fl ow of the show, slow down and deal with it, and, in the meantime, have your announcer ad-lib,” Rabe says.
Easy on the Wheel
Establish which driver is going to pull each act, and don’t deviate from that. “I think that only experienced drivers should be involved in the show, and even then, there shouldn’t be any last-minute changes that involve a driver pulling an act that he or she didn’t plan to pull from the beginning,” Rabe says. “Another thing: If you have kids in the show, their parent should drive for them. A young child might get really nervous or even refuse to ski if they aren’t behind the driver they’re most used to.” In fact, most people would rather ski behind their own driver. “Ellen Guillen drives for her barefooter husband, Dave, and his comfort level really came through in the show.”
It Takes a Village
An important motivator for the Lake Jennie Jewel crew is contributing to the community, and they involve locals in every way possible. “This show started three years ago, when the owner of Julie’s Waterfront Cafe asked if I could pull together a show to celebrate her restaurant’s anniversary. These shows have brought business to her little lakefront restaurant. Also, all of the skiers live on this lake or have close ties to us,” Rabe says.
The show at Lake Jennie Jewel included boys and girls and men and women of all ages, and that diversity is an important aspect of any show. The acts ranged from pyramids (always a hit) to barefooting (like Andy and Conner Hawkins’ father-son act, in which they completely circled the boat). “We also had some surprises for the audience, like a comedy bit Ken Knutson did, jumping out of the water and running to the lake to barefoot — and a really great hang-gliding act by Mark Voisard, who has tons of experience doing this all over the world. Everyone loves when the kids ski. When Olivia Daust and Riley Dehlinger skied by together, they brought the house down,” Rabe says.
Keep ’Em Comin’
Word of mouth isn’t enough to ensure that people show up. Rabe and his skiers made announcements on Facebook, sent e-mails and coordinated with Julie’s Waterfront Cafe to help spread the word. Creating a Facebook fan page dedicated to the event is a great way to build momentum and allow people to post and view event photos after the show is over.