Gabbie Taschwer may feel as comfortable being on water skis as she does on her feet.
The 21-year-old has been water skiing as far back as she can remember. Her talent on the water was recognized by the organizers of the Team USA water ski skills team, who offered a position with the group for the 2018 world championships.
The United States team recently won the 2018 International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation World Waterski Show Tournament two-day contest in Canada, where it competed against national teams from Germany, Belgium, Australia, China and the host country.
“To meet other people from other countries who shared the same passion was so cool,” she said.
Taschwer applied for the team in summer 2017 and was selected as among the best 40 water skiers in the country (35 skied in the competition and five were alternates). This was the first time the McFarland resident applied for the team.
She said members were chosen based on the type of show the directors want to put together.
“This is every show skier’s goal – to compete at the top level with Team USA,” Taschwer said.
The McFarland resident said being selected to compete with Team USA was one of her highest water skiing accomplishments. It also allowed her to ski next to people she had looked up to while growing up.
“It was super rewarding and awesome,” the UW-Madison senior said. “All of the practice and long hours put into skiing had paid off. I felt so honored to ski alongside these people who I’ve looked up to for so many years. It felt surreal to be able to ski with them and be a part of the team with them.”
Taschwer, who has been competing with Madison-based Mad-City Ski Team for about 15 years, said the team was composed of people from all across the United States with the bulk coming from the Midwest region. She’d skied professionally with a majority of the team at the Tommy Bartlett Water Show in the Wisconsin Dells, where Taschwer has been employed during the last seven summers.
Team USA had a limited amount of time to prepare together – just a single week in Florida in April and a few days before the start of the championships, held Sept. 7-9 at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada.
“We’re not together very often, but the show directors have confidence that your individual skills are strong enough that they can throw you into a situation and be able to adapt,” Taschwer said.
She explained each team has exactly one-hour to perform based on a theme where the skiers complete various acts.
“You do dances, you pay-on and pay-off when you’re done skiing, it’s a huge production,” Taschwer said, noting as part of this year’s championships, she became the first to attempt and complete a triple helicopter spin with a pair of teammates.
Taschwer will graduate with a degree in kinesiology from UW-Madison in December and plans to take a few gap years before attending physical therapy school. She hopes those gap years are in Germany as part of the Holiday Park amusement park professional water ski team.
She wouldn’t be the first member of her family to ski professionally overseas. Her parents were part of professional groups that water skied in Germany and at the various Sea Worlds in the United States.
“It’s great to be able to share this passion with my parents,” Taschwer said. “It’s just an awesome family sport.”