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Inventor of the Sling
Out of necessity, water skier Alan Kempton invented a device that has helped many a jumper gain distance and is perhaps the reason skiers are leaping in excess of 200 feet today -- the arm sling.
Alan learned to jump on the six-foot ramp while working with Mike Osborn in Winter Haven, Fla. Later, as Alan practiced on his own, his arm was pulled out of the socket. From that point on, Alan's arm would become dislocated every time he jumped, so he came up with a way to tie it to his side using a car seatbelt with a tricker's toe strap sewn to it.
With this contraption buckled around his waist holding his arm down, Alan took his first jump. He immediately realized he was jumping father. Other jumpers began to notice the sling at tournaments and some of them started using one to help them gain distance. Today's slings are much more sophisticated, but still based on that first simple design that allowed Alan to continue doing a sport he loved.
Alan and his father, skip, learned to ski at the same time in 1957 during a summer vacation on Lake Champlain when Alan was eight years old. The family was then living in Long Island, N.Y.
In 1959, Alan entered his first tournament, the Huntington Gold cup Regatta. An unlimited hydroplane race a ski tournament sponsored by Guy Lombardo. He says the waves were three feet high and he won by performing a swan on a slalom ski.
Avid snow skiers, the Kempton's planned a snow ski vacation every winter. In 1962, Skip and his wife, Diana, had Alan and his younger brother, Robert, pack all the snow ski equipment into the car the evening before they were to leave on their trip. While the boys were sleeping, the Kempton's repacked the car with all of their water ski gear. The next morning, skip told the boys that they were going to stop by the airport on the way. A friend of his was a flight attendant and he said she wanted to give them a tour of the new 767 aircraft. When they boarded the plane for what the Kempton boys thought was simply a pit stop on the way to the slopes their parents said "surprise, this year we're flying to Florida for a water ski vacation!" The boys were ecstatic.
Not long after that first trip, the Kempton's moved to Winter Haven. In 1965, six years after his fist tournament experience and now a Florida resident, Alan skied in his first National Championships. All his practice paid off and Alan came home with the National title in Boys tricks as well as 6th Overall.
In 1966, Alan was invited to the Masters tournament. He placed fourth in tricks -- an impressive feat when you are now competing against such intimidating trickers as Ricky McCormick and Al Tyll. The next year, Alan brought home the Masters overall trophy with fist place performances in tricks and jumping.