Water skier Tony Klarich, self-proclaimed Guy Who Can Ski on Anything, haunts garage sales to find an item -- any item -- to ride: a 1-by-4-foot wooden plank, old snow skis, a ladder.
“I’ll walk into people’s garages, thinking, ‘I can ski on that,’ ” Klarich says en route to Long Beach on Friday where he skied on an upside-down picnic table, above. “I’ve been trying to get a flat-screen television to ski on, but no one’s donating one yet.”
Klarich is no black sheep; he’s carrying on a family tradition of bending the rules. He learned a few tricks by working at the Colorado River ski shop of his uncle, who co-invented the knee board in 1972 and also helped develop the Sky Ski, which looks like a sit-down hydrofoil and can launch 15 feet into the air. And Klarich’s grandmother, Mary Murphy, 86, celebrated her birthday Friday the way she has for the last six years: taking a spin on a Sky Ski out to Santa Catalina Island and back.
As Klarich’s rarefied career as a pro water skier pushes past age 40, his focus has been less about competition and more about burnishing his unusual rep. To help out, he has begun introducing himself simply as Guy, or if pressed, the Skier Formerly Known as Tony.
For his birthday this year, Klarich attempted to water ski 40 laps on 40 different items, pulling 400 different tricks. But bad weather on Canyon Lake in Riverside County slowed him down, and riding a canoe paddle and skiing barefoot while blindfolded further undercut his progress. He finished the day eight hours later, executing just 275 tricks on 41 different objects and vowing to do better next time.
“I’ve always been doing what the others weren’t,” he said. “When slalom water skiing was the thing, I was doing tricks. The next thing now is wakeboarding, but I’m going in another direction. The things I’m doing, no one has ever done before.”
-- Emmett Berg