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The Chetek Hydroflytes
A perfect evening on the shore of Lake Chetek.

by Everett Wilson
August 26, 2006

It took us seven summers to get to a performance of the Chetek Hydroflytes, though we live just six miles away and they put on a show twice a week through the summer. 
I knew it was a show presented by water skiers, but before I saw a full-color brochure with photographs, I hadn't paid attention.    I thought the show would consist of a few proficient recreational water-skiers from the resorts and summer homes around the Chetek Chain O'Lakes, along with some locals. They would perform high speed stunts and jumps to the ooh's and ah's of a small audience standing on the bank.    That would be as much as could be expected, because Chetek is hardly a metro area. 
I had no idea. 
We came early, because we did not know what the visibility and seating possibilities would be, but we weren't the first.   There were bleachers. There was a refreshment stand. Above all, before us was Lake Chetek, with its blue water and treed shoreline beyond the show area.
The pre-show consisted of young teens and pre-teens, almost inevitably ending their stunt with an unplanned plunge in the water, immediately bobbing up and waving at the spectators. 
The main show was an hour long. The loudspeaker announced that they were shorthanded that evening, but the number of skiers and support personnel must still have exceeded forty or so. 
The skiers, both men and women, were young, good-looking, and in very good condition. Singly, in pairs, in groups, they performed tirelessly but not perfectly. The spills were numerous, but there were no injuries.
Photo Courtesy of the Chetek Alert
I would not be writing this piece but for two moments, near the beginning of the show and at the end. I have seen photographs of such things, and suspect they are relatively commonplace in the world of water-skiing; but I never thought it would see it in my own community, free of charge: Twenty-four skiers in all, coming toward us with pyramids three high on each end and four high in the center, with the skier on the top of each pyramid holding one hand triumphantly on high. They completed the act with the pyramids intact. 
My favorite thing is not only watching beautiful people doing something beautiful, but appreciating all of the discipline, energy, and skill  that brings them to this "peak" of performance each summer. 

About the Author:
Everett Wilson, a plainsman by birth, has lived nearly half his seventy years north of Green Bay--in Michigan, Canada, and northern Wisconsin.

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