Cypress Gardens Skier for 22 Years
Lynn Novakofski was a Cypress Gardens Skier from September 1969 until August 1991. In that 22-year year span he went from being the most respected performer in the show to the show director who had the biggest impact on show skiing.
During Lynn’s tenure at Cypress Gardens he drew on his interest in ice-skating and dance to refine doubles and swivel. Not one to simply maintain the status quo, Lynn pushed the performers to go beyond what they had “always done,” especially among the women. When Lynn started at Cypress Gardens the prerequisites for a woman were to be small, light and beautiful. The ability to ski was secondary. He changed all that. He challenged Sally Winter and Betty Bonifay to take the stop out of their swivel plates and spend countless hours on the water learning to ski with a binding swiveled 360 degrees. Then he challenged them further to make it look effortlessly graceful, which they did. He encouraged all the girls to study dance and apply what they learned to the water. He got rid of the rigid bindings the girls used to use when performing a ballet line and had them use their swivel skis instead. Once that was accomplished he had them turn, first sequentially and then in unison. He was constantly moving show skiing forward.
Lynn also brought pairs skating to the water. Employing the services of professional ice skater Don Yontz, Lynn got the men and women together on the dock and the transformation began to take place. Thanks to Lynn’s leadership, strap doubles are a staple of professional and amateur shows around the world. Lynn’s creativity, leadership and determination produced many other new developments, including freestyle jumping as a competitive event, large, complex jumping acts, and three-and four-tier pyramids as part of the Gardens’ daily show.
Lynn also was an accomplished tournament skier, a member of the 150-foot club. He also competed in the Masters when there were few other elite level tournaments, placing third in jumping. He was the first president of the National Show Ski Association and is responsible for helping formulate many of the show skiing rules that are used today.
While at Cypress Gardens, Lynn promoted and sponsored show tournaments around the southeast and judged the Show Ski National Championships for many years. He also sold and coordinated road shows around the world featuring Cypress Gardens’ skiers and functioning as an ambassador for the sport. In addition, Lynn and the Cypress Gardens’ skiers would travel to water ski clubs across the country, teaching the skills that were perfected at Cypress Gardens over the years and fueling the growth of the sport.
Lynn was born on Dec. 31, 1943, in Milwaukee, Wis. He began water skiing at the age of 8 in Minocqua, Wis. He was a member of the Min-Aqua Bats Water Ski Club from 1959-1966 and the Greater Miami Ski Club in 1968-1969. Lynn, who received the AWSEF’s Award of Distinction in 2001, also served as show director at Sea World of California from 1995-2000.
At the time of his induction, Lynn was working for USA Water Ski as a graphic designer and photographer, residing in Winter Haven, Fla.