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The Chain Skimmers bring home state title while wowing the crowds with their water ski tricks each summer

Waterskiing is one of the top summertime sports for residents and visitors alike in the Northwoods.

But for some the love gliding across the water goes beyond laps around the lake.

Alex Carrillo floats in Lake Pleasant with wide skis on each foot and rope floating in the water in front of him.

From back of the speed boat, Ian Hawkins talks him through adjustments he needs to make to land his trick.

Carrillo is attempting to do a gainer, or backflip, off the ski jump, a trick he’s not yet been able to land.

With a cue to the boat driver from Carrillo, the boat takes off, loops around the lake and lines Carrillo up with ramp.

Carrillo lands his first gainer

After a couple unsuccessful runs, Hawkins and the driver, David Engman, watch from the boat as Carrillo lands his first gainer.

They make another loop around the lake and Carrillo lands his second.

As the boat returns him to shore, Carrillo is greeted by his teammates congratulating him on the successful trick.

And that’s how it goes with The Chain Skimmers.

Water-skiers and wakeboarders take turns practicing their tricks and routines while their teammates offer them feedback and encouragement.

The Chain Skimmers Water Ski team in Conover has a history going back more than 50 years. It’s a unique history too being the only amateur team in the state to own their own lake.

It’s a history current president Anastasia Cokinos is proud to be part of.

“You know some of alumni who purchased this lake 53 years ago, 52 years ago, it’s just crazy to me to see them come back and be very happy about the conditions of the site and stuff like that,” said Cokinos.

The Chain Skimmers have a junior team where skiers as young as four are able to hone their skills and work their way up to the Senior team.

Watching the skiers grow is one of Cokinos’ favorite parts of being on the team.

“I’m also a teacher. I love working with the children and that aspect of it. I think it’s really rewarding when you see the children come week after week and learn a new skill. It’s like, ‘Wow I was there 10 years ago.’ Just seeing the glimmer in their eye and how they’re falling in love with the sport, I just think it makes it all worth it,” she said.

That team puts on shows three days a week during the summer on their little lake off Highway 45.

Last week was one of their most packed shows with of the summer with stands completely full.

Anelise Hubbard started on the junior team when she was 9 and has been skiing with the senior team for the last four years.

She always looks forward to performing in front of a crowd.

“Their energy kind of feeds the adrenaline and just gets you pumping and excited. Just showing off what we can do and what we’ve learned is just so great,” said Hubbard.

The team wowed the crowd with pyramids, swivels skis, barefooting, jumps, and all other manor of tricks.

Those skills were put to the test at the State Water Ski Championships in Wisconsin Rapids last month.

The Chain Skimmers not only wowed the crowd, but the judges too getting top scores in ballet, jump, and pyramid.

The high scores earned The Chain Skimmers first place in Division III at the state championships.

“Like even just competing with the team and hanging out there was fun but winning was the cherry on top,” said Martie Gerstenkorn. She’s been skiing since she was six.

It was Cokinos’ first championship with the team.

“It always has been a goal so that really was just an awesome experience, but to do it with this team and this family when we’ve been skiing together forever and has just been something so special,” she said.

The state championship win is another piece of history to add to The Chain Skimmers long legacy.

And one that will keep the skiers motivated through the winter where they’ll be counting down the days until they can hit the water once more.

The Chain Skimmers put on ski shows every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. through Labor Day.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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