River Rat: Adele Gjerde gears up for the waterskiing season

SHOW SKIING. Adele Gjerde started show skiing practices on Monday. Show skiing is a competitive water sport with jumps, pyramids, and other impressive stunts. “I really like how team-building it is because [for] our pyramids, I have to trust everybody beneath me and they have to trust everybody above them,” Gjerde said. Photo submitted by Adele Gjerde.
SHOW SKIING. Adele Gjerde started show skiing practices on Monday. Show skiing is a competitive water sport with jumps, pyramids, and other impressive stunts. “I really like how team-building it is because [for] our pyramids, I have to trust everybody beneath me and they have to trust everybody above them,” Gjerde said. Photo submitted by Adele Gjerde.


As summer approaches fast, so does something else: water sports. From sailing to rowing to waterskiing, summer is the peak season for a wide variety of competitive water sports.

Minnesota’s abundance of lakes and rivers provides a haven for both water sports athletes and enthusiasts. Several SPA students participate in competitive water sports, but one student who is especially excited about the upcoming season is junior Adele Gjerde.

Gjerde participates in a type of waterskiing called “show skiing” with the sports club Twin Cities River Rats. Gjerde learned how to water ski at age two, following in the footsteps of her mom, who has waterskied her whole life. After seeing a show skiing performance, she decided to give it a try. She joined her current team with her mom when she was eight, and since then, has fallen in love with the sport.

Show skiing is a discipline of water skiing in which teams perform a 90-minute show, consisting of multiple acts choreographed to music. Shows include many exciting stunts, such as pyramids and jumps. The shows are also centered around a theme. On land, a character will act on a stage, giving a storyline and interacting with the performance and the crowd.

I really like how team-building it is because [for] our pyramids, I have to trust everybody beneath me and they have to trust everybody above them. Hanging out with my friends and waterskiing, which I love, is just awesome

— Adele Gjerde

Throughout the winter and spring, Gjerde’s team has been practicing every other week indoors. Her outdoor practices resumed this Monday.

“We have practices Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then, [in June], shows every Thursday. We put in all of our docks and barges this weekend [on May 18 ],” she said.

Each practice has a different focus. On Mondays, they work on jumps, on Tuesdays they practice full-group portions of the performance, like pyramids, and Wednesdays are “development days,” where the older skiers teach the younger, newer ones.

“I really like how team-building it is because [for] our pyramids, I have to trust everybody beneath me and they have to trust everybody above them. Hanging out with my friends and waterskiing, which I love, is just awesome,” Gjerde said.

Although much of the sport is about performing for an audience, there is also an organized competitive scene. This summer, Gjerde has regionals in July and, likely, nationals in August. Her team won the Midwest Regional Tournament last year and has placed fifth at nationals the past two years. The shows are judged based on execution, difficulty, flow, and crowd appeal.

For those interested in attending a show, Gjerde’s team, the “River Rats,” hosts free performances every Thursday, from June through August.

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