How Central Florida's original water skiers keep tradition alive

Performers wow crowds with stunts, choreography

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Cypress Gardens in Polk County was the first theme park in Central Florida, it was there that a team of water skiers wowed spectators for more than six decades.

After Legoland bought the theme park, some of its ski members didn't want to let their legacy die, so they formed a new team.

Since 2012, the Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team has practiced five days per week at its home in Lake Silver Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Winter Haven.

"We've got kids from 2 years old up to 67 years old," president of the team, Mark Voisard, said. 

Voisard performed at the original home of the iconic show for 29 years. 

"We do doubles where the guy lifts the girl over his head. Freestyle jumping; we're talking front flips, back flips, helicopters," Voisard said.

They do a series of performances that includes a choreographed ballet line on swivel skis.

"We incorporate ballet moves out on the water on a single board, which has a binder that turns 360 degrees," Shaune Stoskopf, the ad captain for ballet, pyramids and doubles performances said.

They also showcase their most famous stunt: the human pyramid.

"A lot of the times it's a four-tier pyramid that we made famous 'cause we were the first ones to do it at Cypress Gardens," Voisard said.

Among the performers on the team is 18-year-old Stefan Lippelgeoos, a national champion who has mastered barefoot water skiing. 

"Going 40 miles an hour on your bare feet hurts sometimes when you fall but overall it's been a fun experience. I love it," Lippelgeoos said.

Recently, Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team won its first Southern Regional Show Ski Championship, earning top awards for showmanship and performance.

Inclusiveness is also important for its members.

"We do and adaptive clinic every year. We get people that are not as fortunate as us, maybe they are spina bifida," Voisard said. "We have chairs that are down low. They're called sit skis. We got a side skier. We take them on each side, we balance them and if they can hold the rope in their hands, we let them ski."

The team performs every third Saturday of the month at Lake Silver Martin Luther King Jr. Park. To see upcoming shows, click here or visit the group's Facebook page

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