Harry Price is still leaving gold in his wakeAs we age, many of us will move toward hobbies and sports that are less thrilling and risky than those we enjoyed in our 20s and 30s; perhaps the slower pace of golf is a contender. But for Harry Price, waterskiing is still as thrilling today as when he started in 1939.
Yes, it was more than 70 years ago that this retired CDS member learned to ski at Paw Paw Lake in Coloma, MI. He made his own water skis and taught himself how to ski while someone else drove the boat.
“It was a great exhilaration of getting on top of the water and skiing. It was a great first,” said Dr. Price of his first time waterskiing.
But waterskiing wasn’t the only thrilling sport that Dr. Price did in his younger years. To finance his education after World War II, he came home and worked as a tower diver in circuses and carnivals.
“I used to dive from 95 feet into six-and-a-half feet of water, with gasoline on it, wave the torch and do the whole hokey bit, salute, and then take off,” said Dr. Price. “It paid very well.”
Soon after being home from the war, he met his wife on a diving board. Dr. Price had been asked by a friend to teach the English teacher how to dive.
“And I thought, naw, I don’t want to be saddled with some old English teacher,” he laughed. “I met her, I was diving on my board, and walked back and climbing up the ladder was my wife. We got acquainted — I said, ‘How would you like to water ski?’ That closed the deal.”
Dr. Price taught his wife to water ski and three years later she was competing in national competitions. “She worked very hard,” said Dr. Price.
Dr. Price and his wife, Artis, are called “traditional skiers.” They compete in three events: tricks, slalom, and jumping. Tricks involve having two 20-second passes in which you try to do as many tricks as you can. Slalom is zigzagging between six buoys while the boat increasingly goes faster and the towline shortens. And jumping involves jumping as far as you can off of a five- to six-foot high ramp.
To get ready for tournaments, Dr. and Mrs. Price practice on their lake in Florida for a couple of hours every day, even in the winter.
“We can ski down to about 39 degrees,” said Dr. Price.
All of their hard work over the past 70 years has paid off though. Between the two of them they have won 130 gold metals in national competitions. They have won so many metals that they donated 60 to the Water Ski Hall of Fame in Polk City, FL, so the museum can showcase the different types of medals given over the years. Both Dr. and Mrs. Price have been honored with the Award of Distinction at the Hall of Fame.
This year at the 70th Goode National Water Ski Championship in West Palm Beach, FL, they skied a national record tournament. Dr. Price set three national records, and won gold medals in both jumping and tricks. Mrs. Price set one national record in her age category and won gold medals in slalom, tricks and overall. This year was Dr. Price’s 53rd Nationals and Mrs Price’s 52nd.
“Harry and I have competed in more Nationals than any other man or woman in the sport, and so our goal is to keep skiing as long as we can,” said Mrs. Price. Dr. and Mrs. Price truly love competing together. They live by their motto: “Stay healthy and keep skiing!”
Ms. Azark is the CDS editorial assistant.