Tim Fitzgibbons started skiing when his sons were 3 and 1. That was in 1995. This Sunday, the Shakopee father-son trio will attempt to break a barefoot skiing world record for the number of skiers behind the same boat. The number? Thirty-six. That’s 72 dropped water skis.
The event, which will take place at the Shawano Ski Park in Wisconsin, isn’t the first world record the Fitzgibbons family will attempt to break. In 2017, they were part of the current barefoot skiing record with 32 people behind the same boat. It gets complicated, Tim Fitzgibbons said, because the weight of the skiers makes it difficult for the boat to reach the necessary speed for barefoot skiing, which is about 27 mph. That’s why, this year, the weight limit for each skier is 175 pounds.
Sponsored by Evinrude and called the Big Pull, the barefoot skiing world record will be set if the 36 skiers, who plan to travel from across the country for the record attempt, can ride behind the boat for 300 meters. The skiers will arrive at the site around 5 a.m. to warm up and get things ready.
“It means a lot to me to have my sons in it,” Tim Fitzgibbons said. “That’s what so cool.”
The Fitzgibbons have been practicing nearly every day on Lake O’Dowd and they participate on the Shakopee-Prior Lake Shockwaves skiing team. Paul Snell, another Shakopee resident who participates on the ski team, will also be part of the world record attempt.
The official approval of the race is a production. The course has to first be approved by a state surveyor, Tim Fitzgibbons said, to ensure the buoys placed in the water accurately represent 300 meters. Then a drone video must prove the boat and skiers passed the buoys so the record can be validated.
The first attempt will begin at sunrise on Sunday, and it will last until the skiers either achieve the record or get too tired. Tim Fitzgibbons said the time in between attempts is lengthy, because 72 skis must be picked up and sorted through.
“And it’s going to be a balmy 48 degrees for our first run,” Tim Fitzgibbons said, laughing. “I know we can do it.”