Lotawana Days Ski Show Legacy: The Show
August 4, 2012
By Jessica Root
Intern Reporter for the Tribune
Ballet left to right: Kinley Kent, Chloe Huxol,
Jenny Krause, Alex Krause, Katy Pfefferkorn, Laura Krause.
Photo by Eve Baskinski at Lifetouch Photography
Last Saturday Lake Lotawana held its annual Lotawana Days. It began with a parade followed by swimming, fishing and other lake activities. The highlight of the day is always the themed ski show.
Amy Chinnery-Valmassei was the show director of the Hollywana Ski Show this year, but she did also skied in the show. Her job as director was much like that of a theater show director.
The show actually included two acts and an intermission, just like a theater show. Act I consisted of skiers jumping, swiveling, wakeboarding, shoe skiing and trick skiing as well as a pyramid, ballet and hula doubles. After the intermission, Act II showcased more jumping and wakeboarding with some barefoot and swivel line skiing too.
This wasn’t Chinnery-Valmassei’s first year involved in the show. She learned to ski when she was just five years old, and she immediately joined the Lotawana Ski Club.
When she was 11, waterskiing superstar, Don Thomson, came into her life and made all the difference in her waterskiing career.
Thomson became a major icon in the barefoot waterskiing world. He developed back-to-front and front-to-back turnarounds, and he also performed the first barefoot tandem ride in a show at Cypress Gardens.
Cypress Gardens Florida is a haven for water-skiers. Both Thomson and Chinnery-Valmassei have skied there professionally.
After 58 years of waterskiing, Thomson, currently 70 years old, is an honorary lifetime member of the Lotawana Ski Club. He was president of the club during its first four years, starting in August of1958.
Like Chinnery-Valmassei, Thomson had the privilege of directing the ski show in 2008.
“Directing the show was quite fun, but also a ton of work. Delegation is the name of the game in directing Lotawana Day ski shows,” Thomson commented.
During this year’s show, Thomson rode on a boat rather than behind one. He last skied in the 2008 show.
“Skiing is the most fun, but it’s also kind of fun watching large acts up close as in seeing them build a large human pyramid,” Thomson said. “The rest of the time riding in the tow boat is mostly pulling in ski ropes and handing them off to the rope coilers on the dock.”
Thomson is a certified NSSA driver so he occasionally drives the boats during practice. He also still coaches a group of a few exceptional young skiers.
The Lotawana Ski Club is made up of 30 families, members from five years old to 50, who ski, drive and ride on the boats. The club has six boats, and those who drive must be certified.
The club starts practicing the first week in June, Monday and Wednesday night from 5:00 p.m. to dusk. These practices run until the end of August. Throughout the year, club members involved in pyramids practice at Dave’s Gymnastics Factory once or twice a month. Skiers also practice on their own time either at the gym or on the water in the morning when the water is calm.
Thomson and Chinnery-Valmassei have built a wonderful legacy for the kids that are part of the Lotawana Ski Club today.
This is part one of a three part series.