Austin Walstad of Zumbrota realized his “lifelong dream” in early September: water skiing at the World Water Ski Show Tournament. The Olympic-style competition was held in Huntsville, Ontario, earlier this month.

Twenty-three-year-old Austin has been skiing since age 4. Growing up, water skiing was definitely a family affair. Austin’s father taught him to ski, just as his father taught him. Austin and his older sister skied while their dad drove the boat and their mom supported them, often as the official family photographer. Heading to the Ponderosa Campground nearly every summer weekend, the family spent their days on the water at Lake Zumbro.

Austin started participating in water ski shows in 2004. In 2013, he began skiing with the Tommy Bartlett Show in the Wisconsin Dells.

After six years of skiing two shows a day from Memorial Day through Labor Day for a grandstand holding 5,500 people, Austin has plenty of experience skiing and performing for an audience. When the Tommy Bartlett Show closes for the season, Austin heads out for road shows.

Whether he is water skiing in Winterhaven, Fla., or somewhere else on the globe, the sport he is so passionate about has opened many doors.

“I have skied around the world,” said Austin, sharing stories of trips to China, Lebanon (three times), and many states.

Austin nearly had his dream deferred this summer after breaking his leg. He said, “I barely snuck into Worlds.” But Austin made it onto Team USA and headed to Canada.

Despite the fun and excitement, conditions weren’t optimal. Even in late summer, the Canadian water temperatures were chilly. Austin said, “I couldn’t feel my fingers after the show.”

However, cold water and a tough injury couldn’t stop Austin and Team USA. They came home with the gold.

one to Rochester, which is something she aspires to do. Perhaps she’ll be able to check that off her bucket list soon.

Colleen Timimi is a Rochester freelance writer.