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Learned how to ski when he was 22 years old
Back in the sixties, if you asked anyone familiar with tournament water skiing to name the world's best trick skier, almost invariably the reply would be Al Tyll.
Al didn't actually hold the title "World Champion," because those were the days when mainly three-event overall skiers were selected to represent the United States in the World Championships, but he was generally conceded to be the best.
His trick scores were consistently higher than those of any other contestant worldwide, he was setting other standards of sportsmanship and water ski promotion that were world class.
Al won four consecutive national championships in his specialty from 1962 to 1965, adding a couple of Masters titles during the same period. He set the pace for the trickers because of his ability to perform the high point tricks, especially wake and ramp tricks, more sharply and rapidly than the others. He was the first to break 4,000 points and perfect a style that would be the pattern for the high-point runs of later years.
Born Alfred Karl Tyll in Troy, New York, April 22, 1932, Al developed an early interest in gymnastics through his father who had been a regional gymnastics champion. The balance and timing Al gained through his training served him in good stead later on water skis.
Al was a late bloomer as water skiers go. He had been active in high school on the track and field team as a pole vaulter and was a member of the Troy Snow Ski Club, but he was 22 years old before he even tried to water ski. His first experience came during a summer outing with some of his snow friends who has access to an outboard rig. Al fell on his first try, then got up on his second and was hooked.
Another four years passed, however, before he entered his fist tournament in 1959. He had limited success locally and regionally in all three events for a couple of years, but he moved to the forefront in tricks in 1962 when he was past 30, an age when most tournament skiers of the time were dropping out of the sport for other pursuits. Al became the man to beat every time he ran the tricks course for the next four years. Then came a brief layoff before Al returned to competition in the senior Men's division in 1968, entering all three events in the Nationals and finishing first in tricks and third overall.
All the while, Al was holding down a job as a court reporter in Litchfield, Connecticut. "Time management" was his way of describing his ability to take care of his professional duties and still find time for the countless hours of practice required to maintain his skiing edge in what many consider to be the most demanding of the three water ski disciplines.
On tournament weekends, when he wasn’t on the water competing, Al was on shore conducting free clinics which sometimes attracted almost as many spectators as the action on the water. He demonstrated by the hour techniques of performing various tricks, and he passed on his knowledge to younger aspiring trickers who later became champions themselves.
Al also found the time to write two books on water skiing. The first, titled simply "water skiing, " was published by Fawcett and later was translated into Russian. He received no royalties, there being copyright agreement with the Soviet Union, but his book was widely read among the emerging Russian Skiers and was credited with influencing their later success in world competition. His second book, "The complete Beginners Guide to Water Skiing," was published by Doubleday primarily for children and youth.
Al and his wife, the former Christine Baltzer, lived with their daughter, Tracey, on Bantam Lake in Connecticut. Their home became the focal point for the Bantam Lake Water Ski Club, and many of the Eastern Region tournament skiers trained on their ski course. Al, meanwhile, served as president of the Connecticut Water Ski Association, as a member of the Eastern Region Council and as a member of the AWSA Rules Committee.
The Tyll's were divorced in 1983 and Al later moved to Boynton Beach, Florida, where he remained active in investment management.He was one of the first to receive the American Water Ski Educational Foundation's Award of Distinction in 1991