By Josh Hertzog   Published Jul 02, 2005 at 5:03 AM

{image1}Malibu came to Wisconsin as the 2005 Malibu Open Water Ski Championships and Wakeboard Exhibitions splashed into Lake Lynn Louise in Dousman, June 24-26.

The nationally-televised, international water skiing championship featured more than 75 of the world's greatest professional water skiers in slalom, shortboard and jump events.

Wisconsin isn't a stranger to water skiers either.

"Wisconsin has more water skiers per capita than any other place in the world," Andy Mapple says, executive director of World WaterSki Pros.

The dairy state has never hosted an event such as the Malibu Open, but 2005 was its chance.

The Setting

Lake Lynn Louise is a 5-year-old private lake tucked away in Dousman that resident Dr. Jim Michaels created in his backyard, surrounded by grassland that helps to sustain the luster of the lake.

Professionals from around the world couldn't deny the lake's beauty.

"This is as good as it gets," Natalie Hamrick says, who picked up another first place victory in women's slalom over the weekend. "It's a deep lake, and everything around it serves some purpose. It's well thought-out."

"It's incredible," Jaret Llewellyn says, a world champion slalom, trick and jump water skier. "I've been all around the world, and this tops it all."

"It's been called one of the top five ski lakes in the world," Michaels says. "It's a superb venue."

Michaels has been an amateur competitor for many years, but the 2005 Malibu Open Water Ski Championships was his first taste of professional competition. He currently owns the amateur world record in slalom for all ages. Though Michaels didn't walk away with a top three finish, the fact that world-renowned skiers were in his private lake took the cake. had a chance to speak to veteran professionals Natalie Hamrick and Jaret Llewellyn about their water skiing experiences and get a crash-course on how competitions are run.

Natalie Hamrick

Hamrick was born in South Carolina, but now lives in Switzerland. She has been slalom skiing since she was seven years old and competing since the age of 12.

"It's hard to reach the top level unless you start at an early age," Hamrick says.

Hamrick shares that women compete at a speed of 34 miles per hour, and men compete at 36 miles per hour. There are four passes, and if you happen to fall at any part during the competition, it's all over.

The boats that pull the competitors have a special computer installed that calculates the body weight of each member of board to determine how fast their runs were based on the weight towed.

Winning the 2005 Women's Slalom in Dousman only added to the impressive resume for Hamrick. She loves competing and hopes to continue for years to come.

Jaret Llewellyn

Calling himself the "old man," Llewellyn has definitely experienced a lot as a professional water skier. He has been competing for 24 years, and doesn't look to hang up the suit anytime soon.

Originally from Canada, Llewellyn now lives in West Palm Beach, Fla. He has broken the world record 12 times, mostly in jump and overall performance. He has seven world championships.

"I'm a weekend warrior," Llewellyn says. "I remember my family and I would take off for the beaches when the weekends came, and we'd learn to water ski."

The family outings turned out to be more than a hobby for Llewellyn. Now, he is passing along his knowledge of water skiing to all families and kids because he realized early exposure to the sport made all the difference.

"I made an instructional video for kids about learning how to water ski," Llewellyn says.

The video is called "Step in the Right Direction" and can be purchased through

Giving Back

Even though professional water skiers love the thrill of competing in international tournaments, they also realize that many haven't had the opportunities they've had. So, the Malibu Open and In His Wakes, a non-profit water sports ministry brought "A Day to Remember" to the shores of Lake Lynne Louise in Dousman. Athletes competing in the 2005 Malibu Open Water Ski Championships and Wakeboard Exhibitions arrived a day early to provide area children a chance to enjoy some water sports, many for the first time.

Around 40 children and teenagers participated in the event, with opportunities for each of them to water ski, wakeboard, swim and ride in boats. Some of the children have never been in the water before and have grown up in boys and girls clubs and homes for their entire lives, so this was a memory in the making for the children. The smiles on all of their faces indicated the event was a huge success.

The World WaterSki Pros Web site is