By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator

Imagine balancing on a thin piece of wood on water while moving extremely fast. Sounds difficult right? Now, picture doing that while trying to manoeuvre around buoys!

Vailla Hoggan rode waves in slalom water skiing and did it better than most Canadians ever had. Pictured right is one of the skis she used to ride her way to the top.

Water Skiing was invented in 1922, when Ralph Samuelson had the brilliant thought that, “if one can ski on snow, why not water?” So, he grabbed two boards to use as skis, some tow rope, and headed to a lake.

It took him several days before he figured out how to get up and stay balanced. But once he did, he started performing shows and became the world’s first water ski jumper.

Since then, the sport has grown immensely. Water skis are now made using a variety of materials including fibreglass, wood, and aluminum. Water skiers are multi-talented and use many techniques to participate in the different water ski events.

In Vailla’s case, she used one ski as she mainly participated in slalom style ski. In 1964, she won six national titles in a row. And yet, one of her biggest accomplishments came on the international stage in 1968 when she competed at the North and South American Group 1 Championships in Bogota, Columbia. There, she became the first Canadian woman to win gold in the slalom event.

Even though Vailla retired at the young age of 22, she accomplished a lot in her sport. For this and so much more, she is a very deserving Honoured Member of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.