Waterski ramps

In 1960s footage of waterskiing, I often see ramps that the skiiers would use to catch air. I can imagine the horrendous liability of these things in modern society. Do waterski ramps/jumps still exsit in the U.S.?

Who put up the old ramps, anyway? Cities/counties/states? Entrepreneurs? Individuals?

Dunno about the US, but I used to spend hours watching the waterskiers at a place north of Sydney when I was a kid. They’d have big events where there would be dozens of them out on the water. There was a ramp that I never once saw used. That was in the 70s. It was removed in the 80s.

Maybe insurance has something to do with it.

I have seen these in old movies too, but only in the context of either professional ski exhibitions or competition skiing events. I don’t think they were ever in places accesible to the general public.

There’s at least one ramp in place at Lake St. Louis, a residental lake community about 30 miles West of St. Louis. This one is visible from Hiway 40. There may be others not visible from the road. The one that is visible has a well marked bar across the apex so that it can’t be used. They probably unlock and remove the bar when they want to use it.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen them, but there were ramps on the Mississippi River North of Alton IL. There were used by the waterski club based in Alton IL. Don’t know if they are still there. They were along the river bank and it looked as though they were moved out into the river for use.

IIRC, Cyprus Gardens still uses a jump in their show.

In the 50’s and 60’s they were on Ft. Gibson In N/E Oklahoma and were either put out by a marinia or an individual.

Nobody would sue for their own lack of skill but that has sure changed in todays world.

We had a blast on them, got a few splinters until we figured it out but in general, we never had anyone seriously hurt on one but I did hear of a few deaths. Usually involved alcohol, excessive speed and lack of knowledge/skil.

I was in the Clemson University waterski club in 1994, and went over that ramp many times. I bet they still have it, but I’m not sure. The club used dues and donations to pay for it. As to liability, the thing had a bar that locked about 3 ft off the water right in front of it. We were the only ones with a key.

Ah, I found a picture.

IIRC, Cypress Gardens closed a couple of years ago.

I didn’t know it was even there, but I’m sorry I never went there to see it.

Cypress Gardens is still in operation. “Enjoy a variety of daily shows at Cypress Gardens Adventure Park, including comedy, song and dance, magic and more. The water ski capital of the world lives on, as skiers take to the water and sky in an explosive show that will leave guests laughing as well as gasping in wonder at gravity defying feats.”


Which one closed?

In fact, this very morning the local ski club put on a show there involving many jumps, including jumps done by 8-10 yearold boys & girls. Some 300 people were in attendance.

I guess LSL stands for Lake St. Louis? :smack:

Yes. There’s still a ramp at the ski-club near me (I’m a former member… getting too old for the buoy course). For liability protection, all members have to make the club itself the named-insured on their boat policy. Also, the ramp is disabled, blocked, and towed to shore to prevent its use by others (I think it’s actually chained to a tree).

If you want to see something amazing, watch barefoot jumping (scroll down to the ron scarpa jumping icon on the left)

There were ski jumps in 2 lakes near here (Texas panhandle), Lake McClellan and Lake Greenbelt. The jump at McClellan was taken down in the late 60s~early 70s and the one in Greenbelt in the '80s.

I know that in lake Monona here in madison there is a waterski jump also.

Interesting. I am sitting in my office at home- no more than 1/4 mile from a water ski park that is privately owned, and used on the national circuit. Members and their families may use the Jump Ramp. The Ramp is also used, of course, during competitions. These are people with some seasoning and training and take their water safety incredibly seriously.

WAG is that the private entity that owns the park carries hellacious liability insurance. When I rode with our local ambulance corps, we did stand-by for a nationally televised competition. An Olympically-ranked competitor fell during slolems. She fell as she angled her body with such force that she snapped both her tibia and fibula.

Her skiing career was over at that moment. Both bones snapped through. Getting her out of the water after totally isolated the fracture site was interesting work. Apparently I wound up on the t.v., as we stood in chest-deep water, holding a backboard while other EMS types held her torso. I and my partner sloooooowly took her ski off it’s boot, and the boot off her foot. Then, we splinted it. Bad stuff. Her health card was issued by the International Olympic Committee.

I looked at her and could see the despair of knowing her dreams were cut off in the blink of an eye.

Anyway, I know she did not sue the ski park- though she was on the surface of the water, she mighta tried suing anyway. She did not.


I learned to water ski as a kid on Lake Monona in Madison, WI. While I was never brave (or foolish) enough to try the ski jump, my older brother did it repeatedly.

I didn’t know there was still a jump on the lake, and I also don’t know the answer to the OP questioning who owns/installs/maintains the jump, but I do know that they certainly were simply sitting there on the water for anyone to use it during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Slight hijack, couple questions. . .

  1. The waterskis I’ve been on had little fins on the bottom, like a surfboard. Can I assume that ones that you’d use on a jump don’t?

  2. I would THINK that when you are zooming across the water and hit an upsloping piece of wood (?), there would be a tremendous force that tries to get you to faceplant onto the ramp. . .I’m thinking it would be similar to what you’d experience if you were rolling on a skateboard and hit a patch of quicksand, though less extreme.

Is that faceplant-force actually there? If so, is it just a matter of training yourself to throw your weight back – but not too far back – at the appropriate time?

There’s one in central Illinois, between Springfield and Decatur. It’s visible from I-72. The “lake” that it’s on is little more than a private pond; in fact, I think it IS a private pond. It looks to be about 100 yards long and about 60 yards wide. I think it was built specifically for ski-jumping.

By the way, what is the surface of those things made of? Some type of low-friction plastic or something? Does someone stand nearby with a hose and continually spray it to keep it wet?

A guy I used to work with was a former show skier, and he said that he didn’t know what the surface is made of, but it’s plasticy and extremely slick even when dry. I asked about what it’s like to learn to jump off it, and he said that almost everyone fails to anticipate just how slippery it is, and ends up with their skis going out from under them immediately, then they slide over the ramp on their side, butt, face, whatever. So you spend a little time learning to be completely finished with your turn before you hit the ramp. Any sideways cut and you’re eatin’ it.

He also said that if you can jump all the way across a wake, you’ve probably got the skills to handle a ramp at low speeds. You start out going just fast enough to make it all the way over, and gradually increase speed as you get comfortable.

I’ve always been really interested in trying, but I probably wouldn’t have the cojones unless I had a lot of encouragement from someone who really knew what they were doing. I’m getting old and get a little timid just jumping the wake now. :smiley:

When I attended UW-Madison (graduated 2000; SpouseO graduated and we left Madtown in 2001), the ramp on Lake Monona was used by the ski team during the shows they held - people could even watch the practices (and they did! Lots.) So it was still in use as of 2001.