Fenton — Silver Lake Ski Club spotter Brenda McLouth counts down as her father Kurt Bemman eases the ski boat forward, tightening the ropes connected to 12 skiers on the deck.
At the right moment, she shouts “hit!” and Bemman brings the 600 horsepower ski boat to a roar and it surges forward,
pulling the group off the deck, women atop men’s shoulders.
Within 30 seconds, the group of 12 arranged themselves into a pyramid while traveling at more than 30 miles per hour across the water on skis, before the Tuesday, June 25 audience.
The Silver Lake Ski Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. They perform every Tuesday night during the summer, including their big July 3 show. The junior club members perform at 6:15 p.m. and the main show is at 7 p.m. The audience watches from the grassy hill at Silver Lake Park Beach. That night, the $5 entry fee is waived
Ski club shows last an hour, and each show features 13 acts. Between ski tricks, one group dances with choreography on the deck, and the emcee plays music and coordinates the live sketches.
This summer’s theme is “Camp Lattawata,” complete with the dramatic threat of being bought by an outside business entity.
Ski club member Sean Affrica of Fenton said he’s always been a competitive person. “It makes me happy to be able to ski with others to help the kids grow. Traditionally, it’s a family sport.”
He’ll ski with his daughters on the pyramid right above him. His wife Patty is the announcer. “I can’t do that on a soccer field,” he said. “We can be together on the water.”
While flashy, dazzling and showy, the show is a lot of work. There are nearly a dozen people supporting the show, whether driving a boat, spotting or announcing. The program is carefully synchronized with a schedule that they must follow while almost constantly in motion.
McLouth shouts updates and instructions over her shoulder to Bemman, and tells him where to go next.
Affrica said it takes a yearly budget of up to $30,000 to run the club. This is accomplished with fundraising activities and local business support. It costs members approximately $300 per season, which runs from May to the middle of August.
They practice three times per week, and perform 12 to 14 shows per year, which serve as preparation for three summer tournaments. They work on dancing and building pyramids over the winter months.
The club has about 30 skiers on any given night, and they range in age from 5 to mid 50s. They are in different acts depending on their experience and their build.
Men like Affrica end up as the base of the pyramid, while his daughter, Lexie, 12, ends up at the top, 15 feet in the air. She said it doesn’t scare her anymore because she can rely on her team.
“Definitely more teamwork than track,” said Morgan Scott, 16, of Fenton. She said she performs in various acts and positions, like the ballet line. She agrees it’s a good family environment.
Jake Nichols, 13, of Fenton Township said he usually ends up on the sides of the pyramid base. He equates the show to almost being a play. As a sport, he said it’s more active than baseball.
Silver Lake Ski Club member Whitney Pedersen who skis and also runs sound for shows has been elected to represent the U.S. at the 2020 Show Ski World Championships. She’ll be running sound for Team USA at the competition in Australia.