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Seen and Heard: Water skier strikes gold in Canadian competition

September 23, 2018
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“I couldn’t feel my fingers after the show,” said Austin Walstad, but there was still plenty of reason to smile after the competitive water skiing performance — Team USA won gold.

Austin Walstad of Zumbrota realized his “lifelong dream” in early September: water skiing at the World Water Ski Show Tournament. The Olympic-style competition was held in Huntsville, Ontario, earlier this month.

Twenty-three-year-old Austin has been skiing since age 4. Growing up, water skiing was definitely a family affair. Austin’s father taught him to ski, just as his father taught him. Austin and his older sister skied while their dad drove the boat and their mom supported them, often as the official family photographer. Heading to the Ponderosa Campground nearly every summer weekend, the family spent their days on the water at Lake Zumbro.

Austin started participating in water ski shows in 2004. In 2013, he began skiing with the Tommy Bartlett Show in the Wisconsin Dells.

After six years of skiing two shows a day from Memorial Day through Labor Day for a grandstand holding 5,500 people, Austin has plenty of experience skiing and performing for an audience. When the Tommy Bartlett Show closes for the season, Austin heads out for road shows.

Whether he is water skiing in Winterhaven, Fla., or somewhere else on the globe, the sport he is so passionate about has opened many doors.

“I have skied around the world,” said Austin, sharing stories of trips to China, Lebanon (three times), and many states.

Austin nearly had his dream deferred this summer after breaking his leg. He said, “I barely snuck into Worlds.” But Austin made it onto Team USA and headed to Canada.

Despite the fun and excitement, conditions weren’t optimal. Even in late summer, the Canadian water temperatures were chilly. Austin said, “I couldn’t feel my fingers after the show.”

However, cold water and a tough injury couldn’t stop Austin and Team USA. They came home with the gold.

Now showing

“Not everyone can go to Paris or Egypt,” said Blooming Prairie native Amy Noble Seitz, founder and CEO of Exhibits Development Group.

But with Amy’s vision, she can bring the world to the people.

“Our job is to educate everyone in their own backyard,” she said.

Amy was working as a managing vice president at United Exhibits Group, a Denmark-based company, when she was inspired to start her own business, EDG. With support from Ralph Burnet, a Minneapolis real estate executive, Amy received the seed money to begin her business in 2006.

“Without him, my company would not be a reality,” she said.

EDG, based in St. Paul with 10 employees and many collaborators, isn’t a museum nor does it collect artifacts. But with Amy at the helm, EDG creates exhibits to share history, art, science, and pop culture with the world. Her company, frequently partnering with others, creates exhibits from start to finish.

Since its inception, EDG’s exhibits have traveled to six continents and 25 countries. Bringing quality exhibitions to a larger audience is the ultimate goal. Amy’s first exhibit, “The Etruscans” opened in 2009. Currently there are more than 30 exhibits, ranging from “Archimedes: The Art and Science of Invention” to “Beyond Rubik’s Cube” to “Salvador Dali: Visions of Eternity.” Picking a favorite exhibit would be like picking a favorite child. “They’re like babies,” she said.

While Amy has had four exhibits in Minnesota, she has yet to bring one to Rochester, which is something she aspires to do. Perhaps she’ll be able to check that off her bucket list soon.

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