The Rutherford Report—Water Ski School a Family Tradition

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“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.”

Water Ski School a Family Tradition

In 1946, a building contractor and his Clairol model wife opened a water ski school at Lake Arrowhead.

George “Mac” and Lucy McKenzie had been coming to the lake for years before they decided to share their passion for water skiing with others by becoming professional instructors.

The couple tried launching a McKenzie Water Ski School in Florida where they could water ski all year long, but the miserably muggy conditions there prompted them to head back west.

“My father was always a mountain man,” said Pam McKenzie, whose son—Justin Frank—now operates the school with his wife, Holly.

Today, McKenzie Water Ski School continues the tradition Mac and Lucy McKenzie started 70 years ago by providing a customized water ski experiences to customers whether they are beginners learning the ropes or experts sharpening their skills. In addition to traditional water skiing, the school offers instruction in wakeboarding and slalom skiing.

Age isn’t a factor. Instructors have helped children as young as two get up on water skis, though the median age of first-timers is about five.

The ski school’s instructors, clad in their trademark red and white swimsuits, start on the dock by giving beginners safety instructions and explaining time-tested techniques on how to get up.

But their help doesn’t end there. Instructors jump into the water with their students and ski right beside them as they attempt to rise up and glide on water.

“Our success rate at teaching people to ski for the first time is about 95 percent,” Holly Frank said. “As long as they have the desire to learn, we can teach them.”

The school’s instructors also have experience teaching deaf, blind and autistic youth and adults how to ski.

The typical lesson is a two-mile course that usually last about fifteen to twenty minutes. It’s not a lot of time, but by the end of their runs, most beginning skiers are too wiped out for another spin around the lake.

Besides individual lessons, McKenzie Water Ski School also offers group excursions and private cruises.

Those interested in getting a glimpse of the school’s history need look no further than Woody’s Boathouse Restaurant, located just a short walk from the school’s dock in the Lake Arrowhead Village.

Inside, there are multiple black and white photos of Mac and Lucy McKenzie displaying their water skiing expertise behind classic wooden boats.

Learn more about McKenzie Water Ski School at
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