Making waves for 57 years
Waupaca Chain Skiers perform on Rainbow Lake
By Holly Neumann
“It takes a lot of dedication and months of practice to get a show on the water,” said Jamie “Bear” Fiedorowicz, the organization’s president. “Family and teamwork is what makes the program a continued success.”
The theme for the 2019 season is Under the Ski.
According to the Chain Skiers website, the storyline follows “Marty” the Marine Biologist who is hosting a game show with some really challenging questions. Guests should be prepared to help out the contestants along the way. Hints may be hidden in the Chain Skier ad book, which you can find around town and at their shows. But watch out for the “the Anemone,” who is always trying to steal the show.
“Our Creative Director Kareene Hansen and her team, come up with the themes, costumes, dances and land acts,” said Show Director Dan Wachsmuth. “While I create everything that happens on the water.”
As the skiers climb, jump, fly, spin and glide across the water, guests will see things they would normally find under the ocean.
“Our ballet line girls are mermaids and our jumpers are sharks,” said Wachsmuth. “You may even see some starfish or two.”
Some of the men from the group will even dance on the shoreline to the popular children’s song, “Baby Shark.”
Everyone seems to be having fun.
Olivia Wachsmuth, 17, has been on the team for 13 years, and does swivel skiing, pyramids and pre-builts.
“My dad was good family friends with a family that skied, and they got us hooked,” she said. “It is so much fun and a lot of bonding time. It’s nice to be a part of a team that does something different, something some people have never tried.”
Samantha Loschiavo has been with the team for nine years.
“My dad thought we should try it, so we did and I love it,” she said. “It’s fun to do great things on the water. Every success means a lot.”
Fiedorowicz enjoys skiing with his daughter Sarah.
The two can be seen going across the water as a doubles team, where Fiedorowicz lifts his daughter into the air.
“It takes practice, but we have it down,” he said.
Tim Lencki is the veteran of the team.
“I’ve been a Chain Skier for 34ish years,” he said. “The Chain Skiers is an opportunity for families to hang out together. The whole family can be involved and be with each other throughout the week. We are a great summer attraction for people visiting the area. It’s something people look forward to seeing.”
This year, the team is 70 skiers strong, including the junior skiers.
“The team has grown quite a bit over the years,” said Wachsmuth. “We have always had good leadership and a good board of directors. We always focus on fun and family. When you see a kid out their skiing, there is usually a mom, dad or both that are involved in some way.”
Every family member does his or her part.
“We have creative people,” he said. “We really encourage teamwork and everyone works together to put on a great show. We challenge our skiers to do their best on the water and push them to their limit.”
A good chain skier is someone who is friendly and kind, while encouraging others. They have a positive attitude and are willing to work as a team.
Some skiers have joined the team as young as 5 years old.
“We will take them at any age,” said Wachsmuth. “Although some skiing skills would be great, we will help them along the way and in no time have them going across the water.”
Practice isn’t just for the skiers. It is for the drivers as well. It takes practice to get the perfect pull.
“Our drivers work equally as hard,” said Wachsmuth. “It takes a lot of practice to learn how to pull our jumpers and barefooters. And it’s not easy getting a pre-built pyramid off the dock. They also have to practice all the patterns that we use. By the end of the season, they usually have it down. They work as a team with someone else on the boat as well, who watches for spills and is in charge of all the ropes.”
There is an art to everything they do.
Putting a show on the water also takes money.
“This is an expensive adventure,” Wachsmuth said. “From costumes, ropes, skis, boats, motors and even the fuel, we could not do this without funding. We don’t charge for our shows. We have to work hard at raising funds.”
The organization sends out an annual Friends letter asking for donations, does duck races at Strawberry Fest, holds regular brat fry events, helps at a Green Bay Packers food stand and gets help from sponsors and advertisers.
“We have to watch finances closely,” he said. “But as long as we have people that want to ski and people that want to watch our show, we will continue to work hard at that and work twice as hard raising money.”
The Waupaca Chain Skiers can be seen on Saturday evening during the summer months, right behind the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King. Signs and banners mark the way.
The pre-show begins at 5:45 p.m., followed by the regular show at 6:30 p.m.
They will be hosting a learn to ski program from 4–7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, at the Chain Skiers show site.
Those interested should bring a swimsuit, life jacket and a positive attitude. They will provide the rest.