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History of Water Skiing

From Mary Bellis,
Your Guide to Inventors.
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Eighteen-year-old, Ralph Samuelson invented water skiing.

Water skiing came about on June 28, 1922 when eighteen-year-old Ralph Samuelson of Minnesota, proposed the idea that if you could ski on snow, then you could ski on water. Ralph first attempted water skiing on Lake Pepin in Lake City, Minnesota, towed by his brother Ben. The brothers experimented for several days until July 2, 1922 when Ralph discovered that leaning backwards with ski tips up lead to successful water skiing.

Ralph Samuelson Experiments With Barrel Staves As Water Skiis

As for proper water skiing equipment, for his first skis Ralph tried barrel staves, then snow skis, and finally Ralph fashioned the first dedicated water skis from lumber he purchased and shaped. Ralph made his bindings from leather strips and used a long window sash as a ski rope.

Ralph Samuelson Makes First Water Skiing Jump

On July 8, 1925 during an exhibition on Lake Pepin, Ralph Samuelson made the first water ski jump using a greased 4' x 16' ramp.

Early Patents For Water Skis

In 1925, Fred Waller patented the first water skis, called Dolphin Akwa-Skees. Ralph Samuelson never patented any of his water skiing equipment.

In 1940, Jack Andresen invented the first trick ski, a shorter, finless water ski.

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