By Kim Wilhelm (EL DORADO, Kan.)
They call her the "Skiing Grandma" at El Dorado Lake. On any calm day, you'll find 77 year-old Avola Fitzwater water skiing. Oh, did I mention - she doesn't just ski. She slaloms!
"I started with two but it's easier with one," said Avola.
Her husband, Clarence, who is also 77 years-old drives the boat.
"She hollers at me once in a while but not very often," says Clarence with a smile.
Avola learned to ski years ago and says staying with it keeps her young. She gets out on the lake a couple times each week. She's always happy to ski for people who want to see her do it. She also gives lessons to those who ask.
Clarence says she can stay up for a long time. He doesn't try and deliberately dump her while she's up on the ski.
"If he takes me around over his own boat wake I yell at him," says Avola. "I tell my grandkids if they see me fall, they better get a picture because I don't do it very often."
Avola has arthritis in her hands. Holding onto the ski rope too long makes them hurt. So she puts the rope between her knees and holds tight. That allows her to ski with no hands.
"My legs don't get tired so my hands rest," says Avola.
For those of us who can get up on a pair of skis for maybe 15 seconds, kudos to you Avola!
The Fitzwaters are also camping hosts at El Dorado Lake.