The Janesville Gazette

August 8, 1997

The Portland Water Spectacular Ski Team practices a pyramid on the rock river to prepare for the 1997 Water Show Ski Nationals this weekend in Traxler Park. The team raised $20,000 and borrowed boats to compete in its first national tournament.


Portland skiers travel farthest, hardest

By Amy Zarlenga

Janesville Gazette Staff

Remember the commercial that asked people what they would do for a Klondike bar?

They'd do just about anything----squawk like chickens, act like chimpanzees and wear Groucho Marx glasses.

Jaclyn LeDoux, 15, was in a similar situation. She had to do something pretty embarrassing for someone her age to get what she wanted--and it wasn't an ice cream bar.

The Portland Water Spectacular ski team member wore a "really goofy" paper hat at least 30 times in front of almost 100,000 fans at Portland, Ore., Trailblazers basketball games. There, she earned enough money to cover cost of competing Saturday in the 1997 Water Show Ski Nationals on the Rock River in Janesville.

More than 40 teammates of all ages wore the hats, frequently donned by burger-flippers, while working at concession stands at, the games. Most people probably wouldn't make a big deal out of it. But if you remember anything about being a teenagers you'll remember that practically everything is embarrassing.

LeDoux looks back on the experience with humor. Anything that gets her closer to her dream--a college water skiing scholarship is worth it, she said.

The Portland Water Spectacular, which will compete for a national title for the first time, has come a long way, both geographically and otherwise.

The team came up with the $20,000 it needed to cover traveling and competition expenses for nationals. It's president made arrangements to borrow boats from Wisconsin ski clubs because they-could not bring their own this far.

Of the 60-member team, 42 will compete Saturday. The rest of the team either couldn't get away from work or couldn't foot the trip's expenses, because concession stand profits covered only 80 percent of the cost. Each member had to chip in the remaining 20 percent, said Robyn Hanson, the Western Regional National Show Ski Association representative. The team also does not have a home site, said Hanson, a former Portland skier. The skiers must take a boat out to a dock in the middle of the river for practices.

"We're stuck there," she said. "There's no bathrooms. There's nothing."

All of the team's shows are on the road. Members must haul their own skis, boats, ramps and costumes with them, so the farthest from Oregon they've performed is Idaho. Most of their shows are in Washington and Oregon, Hanson said.

Team members traveled with their costumes, ropes and skis. Mad-city Ski Team of Madison loaned the team a twin-rig outboard to pull their big acts, such as the difficult four tier pyramid. Beaverland Must-Skis of Beaver Dam loaned the team a Single-engine outboard;

the Rock Aqua Jays supplied a pickup boat for skiers who fall, and the Lake Sinnissippi Water Ski Team, Hustisford, contributed another boat. Rockford's Ski Broncs loaned some skis.

The youngest team member, 10-year-old Carol Dumolt, makes the fourth tier of the four-high pyramidThe oldest team member is 55. One-fourth of the team is under age 18.

"A lot of times, we practice Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, do a show for the weekend, come back Sunday night, and all we have off is Monday." Hanson said.

Portland traveled the farthest of any team to participate in nationals.

"It was such an effort to come this year we probably couldn't come up with enough money again for at least two years," show director Doug Kaaretinen said.

Team members said they wouldn't be here if it weren't for the kindness of the Rock Aqua Jays and other teams who loaned equipment

"Badgerland and the Rock Aqua Jays have been like big brother teams to us because they've sent people to ski camps and worked with us, given us ideas and really helped us out," Kaaretinen said. "Knowing they're watching us, we want to show them what they taught us, we're using."

Redisplayed from The Janesville Gazette, Friday, August 8, 1997