ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

'Father of waterskiing' gets tribute on the big screen

The 33-minute film “Ralph Samuelson: The Father of Waterskiing” premiered Tuesday in the Lincoln High School Auditorium.

Ralph (1 of 1)-2.jpg
Ralph Samuelson pictured on Lake Pepin in Lake City with the pair of water skis he first rode on July 2, 1922.
Contributed / Ben Threinen
We are part of The Trust Project.

LAKE CITY — After four long years for filmmaker Ben Threinen, he’s finally able to tell the story of a “forgotten soul” in Lake City.

Threinen, who lives in Lake City, sat Tuesday night with other fans of the city and its claim to fame – water skiiing and the man who invented the sport – to watch “Ralph Samuelson: The Father of Waterskiing,” a 33-minute documentary film that has been a labor of love for Threinen.

The documentary focuses on the life of Ralph Samuelson, who made history on July 2, 1922, when he became the first man ever to water ski, which he did on Lake Pepin at Lake City.

Samuelson's feat is celebrated each year during Water Ski Days , a community event that began 50 years ago and will begin this year on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

Also Read
Highlights of events in 1997, 1972, 1947 and 1922.
Highlights of events in 1997, 1972, 1947 and 1922.

After years of wondering if the documentary would ever come to fruition, Tuesday night’s premiere couldn’t be more of a thrill for Threinen.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I’m excited,” he said. “I think it’s a timeless story of a man who took his dreams and absolutely lived them.”

Threinen added he hopes his documentary will help the communities not just in Lake City, but in the region learn more about the people who helped establish them.

Waterski 2.jpg
Ralph Samuelson pictured on July 2, 1922, when he became the first person ever to water ski when he did so on Lake Pepin in Lake City.
Contributed / Ben Threinen

“You’ve got your national heroes, your (Thomas) Edison’s, you’ve got those people and you do your documentaries on; I’m trying to change that,” Threinen said. “I want people to focus more and learn about the people that really created the towns and cities that we live in an hour from here to Rochester and all the way down the Mississippi River.

“I just want people to take pride in their communities and the people who made their communities.”

The documentary is based on the book “A Daredevil & Two Boards,” a biography written by Gregor Ziemer on Samuelson’s life. Threinen said Ziemer’s book is how he first learned of Samuelson’s story and was what initially sparked him to pursue the documentary.

When he moved to Lake City and purchased his house, he found the book on a bookshelf and later pieced together that he had bought Ziemer’s former home.

Threinen worked with retired journalist and local historian Bob Norberg in pursuing the project, along with partnering with the Lake City Historical Society. Norberg wrote a script based on Ziemer’s book and narrated Threinen’s documentary.

“Bob Norberg did just one of the most marvelous jobs of narration of any project I’ve worked on, and he’s never done it before,” Threinen said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Throughout the 33-minutes, Norberg narrates the life of Samuelson from when he first accomplished the feat a day before his 19th birthday, to moving to Florida and putting on water skiing shows and competing in boat races, and to when he moved back to Southeast Minnesota to become a turkey farmer.

Threinen doesn’t want the documentary to just revolve around Samuelson’s invention of water skiing, but truly his entire life story.

“Everything (Samuelson) did, he was horribly successful,” Threinen said. “I’m just thrilled. I mean, I’ve been working this hard and Bob Norberg put the script together, but besides that, I’ve been basically working alone and my wife says I wake up in the middle of the night mumbling about water skiing.”


2022 Water Ski Days schedule

Thursday 6/23:

  • Water Ski 100 Exhibition (Lake City Area Arts), 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Wild Wings Tent Sale (2101 Hwy 61 S), 3 to 6 p.m.
  • Beverage Garden (Ohuta Beach Park), 4 to 10 p.m.
  • Carnival (throughout downtown), 5 to 10 p.m.
  • Market by the Lake (Ohuta Beach Park), 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Knight Barry WSD Volunteer Appreciation Party (Ohuta Beach Park), 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Concert: The Jorgensens (Ohuta Beach Park), 6:30 to 10 p.m.
2022WSDMap-copy.jpg
A map of 2022 Water Ski Days event locations in Lake City.
Contributed

Friday 6/24:  

  • Wild Wings Tent Sale (2101 Hwy 61 S), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Water Ski 100 Exhibition (Lake City Area Arts), 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Carnival (throughout downtown), noon to 10 p.m.
  • Beverage Garden (Ohuta Beach Park), noon to midnight.
  • USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Foundation’s “Get on the Water” (Ohuta Beach Park), noon to 5 p.m.
  • Lake Hits 95 Karaoke Contest Finals (Ohuta Beach Park), 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Concert: Hitchville (Ohuta Beach Park), 7:30 p.m. to midnight.

Saturday 6/25:  

  • Rotary Club 5k/10k/Half-Marathon/Kids Fun Run (Underwood Park), 7 a.m.
  • Lion’s Club Classic Car Show (Lincoln High School Football Field), 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Knights of Columbus Pancake Breakfast (St. Mary’s), 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Arts and Crafts Fair (Patton Park), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Wild Wings Tent Sale (2101 Hwy 61 S), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Beverage Garden (Ohuta Beach Park), 10 a.m. to midnight.
  • Children’s Penny Hunt (St. John’s), 10 a.m.
  • Bean Bag Tournament (Ohuta Beach Park), 10 a.m.
  • Historic Walking Tour (City Hall), 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Live Broadcast with Lake Hits 95 (Patton Park), 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Water Ski Show Team Performances presented by Hearth and Home Technologies (Ohuta Beach Park), 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Jay Mercill World Record Attempt (Ohuta Beach Park), 12:30 p.m.
  • Water Ski 100 Exhibition (Lake City Area Arts), 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Carnival (throughout downtown), noon to 10 p.m.
  • Lake City Area Arts BINGO! (Ohuta Beach Park), 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Concert: Chase Matthews with The 4 on the Floor (Ohuta Beach Park), 7:30 p.m. to midnight.
  • Venetian Boat Parade (Ohuta Beach Park), 9 p.m.

Sunday 6/26:

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Arts and Crafts Show (Patton Park), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Wild Wings Tent Sale (2101 Hwy 61 S), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Beverage Garden (Ohuta Beach Park), 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
  • Water Ski 100 Exhibition (Lake City Area Arts), 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Carnival (throughout downtown), noon to 8 p.m.
  • Grand Parade (Garden and High Streets), 2 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Water Ski Show Team Performance presented by Hearth and Home Technologies (Ohuta Beach Park), 4 p.m.
  • Concert: Junk FM (Ohuta Beach Park), 7 to 10:30 p.m.

*Big Water Sports will offer ski lessons on Saturday and Sunday of the event. Call or text 507-481-7298 for info and pricing.

Erich is a digital content producer at the Post Bulletin where he creates content for the Post Bulletin's digital platforms. Before he moved to Rochester, Erich worked as a sports reporter for Rivals.com covering the University of Illinois' athletic programs in Champaign, Illinois. Readers can reach Erich at 507-285-7681 or efisher@postbulletin.com.
What to read next
Live music, food trucks, and fireworks to celebrate July 4th at Soldiers Field Park.
Rally attendants held signs and chanted in protest of the recent Supreme Court ruling which over-turned Roe v. Wade in Rochester on July 4.
View photos of the Old Fashioned 4th of July Parade in Blooming Prairie.
Charles Jackson is bringing the Rochester-based bear to provide relief in Texas before undergoing medical treatment himself.