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Six-year-old finds his footing on water

Austin Zoldos shows his natural ability. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
July 07, 2010 - Austin Zoldos slipped his feet into his waterskis and he went into a sitting position on the water.

The six-year-old wrapped his hands around the rope and readied himself as the boat pulled away from the dock at Lake Oakland.

Leah Schiller, one of his trainers, gave him a smile and shouted words of encouragement as he lifted up as the boat gained a little more speed.

It was his fourth time on the water on his skis on June 26. He smiled as the boat pulled him forward and the breeze wrapped around him on the sunny day.

His first time was a few weeks ago while he was up north.

"He got right up," said mom, Larisa Brown, pointing out his natural ability. "He has really good balance.

"It was kind of difficult," Austin admitted. "It was hard getting up. It seems like you have to lay on your stomach then your back. The boat pulls you and you lift your body as the boat moves."

Austin wanted to try waterskiing and found inspiration from Schiller, his dad's longtime girlfriend, and Jason Brown, his stepfather, who both skiied.

But he was shy about his first time out on the skis.

"My mom pulled out a photo of my brother and I skiing (from a newspaper) and I pulled out five dollars, a popsicle, and a cookie," said Schiller. "He splashed me with water."

"I said I would get in the water and get up," Austin admitted.

After he eased his way up on top of the water his dad, Jason Zoldos, thought he could do it, too. He couldn't.

"I laughed and said I am the winner," Austin smiled. "He didn't know what he was doing at all."

Austin is anxious to continue practicing, knowing when the boat moves faster he can ski with a partner and untie the rope connecting his two skis.

"He will probably be skiing with me behind the boat within the next couple of times going out and hopefully try dropping a ski by the end of the summer," said Schiller.

"At least that's one of his goals which is do-able as long as I have enough chocolate chip cookies to ease his nerves."

Austin knows the age to be on one ski is eight, but he wants to accomplish the goal sooner. He is going for 10-years-old to go without any skis as he aspires to be a professional barefoot water skiier.

Another aspiration is to perform in next year's Fourth of July show on Lake Oakland. He already set in his mind to start practicing to be part of it and start working on tricks. He saw eight people preparing for this year's show and it inspired him to be part of it, too.

He has watched his cousin in a few competitions and knows if he needs extra help he can go to his cousin or Leah.

"Keep practicing and you will get better," Larisa told him.

Austin has already given a few pointers to his mom, teaching her the art.

"There are ten steps," said Leah.

"First, put on bathing suit," shared Austin. "Put life jacket on, get skis on, hold onto the rope, and hold on tight."

He also likes to go tubing and jetsking, but just as a passenger.

For the rest of the summer he is going to continue to practice water-skiing, mostly on Lake Oakland but while he visits his cousins in Missouri and up north.

He just finished his soccer season and plays T-ball, where he proudly wears his number - seven.

His favorite baseball player is Centerfielder Austin Jackson from the Detroit Tigers.

Austin will be a first-grader at Reid Elementary in Goodrich when school starts again in September.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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