Instead of riding through the sky on brooms, these witches and flying monkeys glide across the water on skis.
Mad-City Ski Team performs free ski shows at Law Park in Madison at 5:15 p.m. nearly every Sunday from May through August. They have been performing shows at Law Park for more than 50 years. The team will be competing at the National Water Ski Show tournament in Warsaw, Indiana, this weekend.
The show ski team is made up of more than 100 individuals, 60 of whom are skiing members. The other members drive the boats, sew costumes and perform other supportive roles. Their ages range from junior members of 2 years old to boat drivers in their 60s and represent a variety of communities, including McFarland, Monona and Cottage Grove.
“It’s a little bit like dinner theater on water,” Mad-City Ski Team corresponding secretary Jacci Meier said.
Each year, the team selects a theme. This year’s theme is “The Wizard of Oz.”
The shows begin with the junior team showing off basic skills, such as jumping from the dock into the water and beginning pyramids.
The competition team, which includes some members from the junior team, then begin their show.
The show features acting on the shore of Lake Monona and dancing on the main dock. The team’s lead announcer, Adam Schaller, tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz” and explains show skiing terms and tricks.
Meanwhile, skiers perform stunts and routines on the water, sometimes being pulled along by a family member.
“It is an incredibly family-friendly sport,” Meier said. “We have several families on the team who have three generations on the team.”
For the Clark and Krinkey families of McFarland, show skiing quickly became a family sport.
Hailey Clark expressed interest in joining the team after watching her friend since day care, Kelsey Krinkey, perform six years ago. Clark joined the team the following year.
Their parents, Lisa and Mike Clark and Beth and Jene Krinkey, joined the team in supportive roles, such as coordinating costumes and riding in boats to watch skiers’ safety and pull ropes from the water between acts.
“There’s a lot of families, because there’s not a lot of sports you can be in with your family,” Hailey Clark said.
Meier said college-aged and young professionals join to stay active outside and make new friends.
“We always waterskied together on Lake Waubesa and we had mutual friends that convinced us to join,” said Matt Strode.
He and his friend, Jack Howell, joined the team together three years ago. The friends are both from McFarland.
With two- to three-hour practices three days a week year-round, Strode said heating up leftover dinner every night and the time commitment can be challenging, but their friendship has strengthened.
“Obviously we’ve spent a lot more time together,” Strode said.
The two also made other friends on the team they spend time with outside of practice.
Mad-City Ski Team practices climbing pyramids and gymnastics during the colder months.
“There’s always room for improvement,” said Kelsey Krinkey.
She said members have to stay as one team while performing pyramids and jumps, as well as acts on swivel skis in which the skier balances on one leg in a foothold that spins 360 degrees.
When the water is warm enough in March or April, the Mad-City Ski Team’s act moves to the water. In earlier months of the show ski season, the team puts on exhibition shows where the announcer explains show skiing. They will then premier that year’s show once it is ready for an audience.
Mad-City Ski team’s remaining shows of the season are on Aug. 18, Aug. 25 and Sept. 1.