August 16, 2021 at 2:19 p.m.
“When summer is here, it’s exciting,” Taylor said. “We can go ski, learn things and do different tricks. It’s a fun sport to do.”
The Dombeck family – Bob and Tiffany, and their three daughters, Morgan, 16, Taylor, 13, and Karlie, 9 – spend their afternoons and weekends water skiing on Big Pine Lake in Otter Tail County near Perham. The lake is a short jaunt from the Dombecks’ 350-cow dairy.
“It’s a big-time stress reliever to be able to get away from the dairy for a couple hours at a time,” Bob said.
“Plus, this is something the kids are never going to forget,” she said. “They’re going to remember coming here every weekend.”
Each girl can ski on their own, with both Morgan and Taylor knowing how to slalom ski. Yet, the sisters’ favorite way to enjoy the water is all three being towed behind the family’s boat at the same time.
“It’s usually three of us or two of us at a time,” Morgan said. “We keep going, usually until our hands go numb from holding on to the rope. You just tough it out and keep going.”
For this dynamic display to work, Morgan and Taylor take the outside ropes and then ski in and out of the wakes. Karlie skis within the wake with the center rope.
“The hardest thing about skiing is keeping your balance,” Taylor said.
“The second biggest challenge is going on and off the wake,” she said. “When I first started, I had a bunch of big wipeouts, but I don’t have many anymore.”
While the Dombecks have always spent their downtime on the water, with Bob and his siblings also enjoying lake activities as children, it was only a few years ago Morgan, Taylor and Karlie learned how to water ski. They were 11, 8 and 5 years old, respectively.
The family spent a weekend on the lake at a cabin, and the girls took it upon themselves to clean the shoreline. As a reward for their efforts, a lakeside resident offered to teach the girls to ski. This resident is also a professional barefoot skier.
“The girls were little,” Tiffany said. “It’s fun to think of where they’ve come in such a short amount of time.”
The Dombeck sisters used a training boom and skied along the boat to learn the sport. This allowed them to practice their balance and understand the feel of moving atop the water.
“I like watching (my sisters) and seeing them get better at skiing,” Morgan said. “It’s pretty cool to see how far they’ve come since we’ve first started doing it.”
After the Dombecks learned to ski that summer, they have readily jumped at the opportunity to be on the water as soon as the weather allows.
This year, the family was water skiing in mid-May; the girls wore wetsuits.
“If the weather allows, we’ll go,” Bob said. “Tiffany will take them in the fall because I’ll be harvesting. We raise edible beans, so we’ll be doing that soon.”
“We’ll be out here all day, every single weekend,” she said. “They would literally ski and ski. They’ll ski until their bodies are numb.”
Morgan added that sometimes the sisters ski into the setting sun.
“That’s pretty cool when we ski with the sunset,” she said.
This summer, Taylor joined the area ski team where they practice a few times a week. During practice, she is learning to ski on a swivel ski at 13 mph. On the weekends, she is water skiing on her normal skis at 27 mph, practicing the moves she will use for shows on the swivel for ballet line.
Her latest endeavor is learning to swivel.
“That’s where you’re on a wide ski and you can turn around,” said Taylor, who also does ballet skiing.
The team recently accomplished their most difficult stunt, a six-person pyramid with Taylor on the top tier.
“There are a few teammates with no experience but others grew up with it,” Tiffany said. “It’s a fun group.”
Morgan wants to learn how to barefoot ski.
“Our friend who taught us how to ski barefoot skis,” Morgan said. “It looks like so much fun for a new challenge.”
And for Karlie, she is also looking to improve her talents on the water.
“My biggest wipeout was when I forgot to let go of the rope,” she said. “I’m learning. It’s so fun.”
If by chance the Dombecks are not skiing, they are simply enjoying the water and being together as a family. For Bob and Tiffany, that is all they could ask for with this engaging activity.
“I didn’t think they’d take it on like this, but it’s a full-time sport now,” Bob said. “Life’s good, and this is a stress reliever. You get to forget about other things for a few hours and relax a bit with your family.”
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