CBS staffer gets feet wet with ski team (with photo gallery)

Tyler McGill, a correspondent with “The Early Show” on CBS, was in Scotia on Tuesday to film a segme

There are few things in this world that Tyler McGill won’t try, especially if there is a camera on him.

He has run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain; driven a high-performance NASCAR race car; mushed a leg of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska; and caught a catfish barehanded in Texas, an activity called noodling.

On Tuesday, he jumped off a ramp in the Mohawk River behind a power boat going 20 mph.

McGill, 28, is a correspondent with “The Early Show” on CBS. He was in Scotia filming a segment for the show featuring the U.S. Water Ski Show Team. The three-minute segment, which McGill will narrate, will air Friday between 8:30-9 a.m. The show has a daily audience of approximately 3 million people.

The U.S. Water Ski Show Team provides a free hourlong show each Tuesday during the summer. The show features 13 acts, the last one a comedy skit. McGill participated in the final act, wearing a fanciful costume, while he jumped off the ramp. Regular team members hit the ramp going about 30 mph.

This was the first time he had ever jumped off a ramp on water skis, and he jumped it after performing two practice runs and spending about 15 minutes in lessons then and there on the river. “I am a novice,” he said, flashing a telegenic grin.

“I did it barefooted and then I did a jump. I was peeing in my wet suit throughout the practice,” he said.

McGill travels around the United States and the world with the CBS crew, filming exotic adventures for the morning show. He calls himself a G-rated version of Johnny Knoxville, a star of the TV show “Jackass,” known for featuring people performing various dangerous, crude, ridiculous, self-injuring stunts and pranks.

CBS morning show producer Paige Kennedy said “The Early Show” came to Scotia “because we thought it was the perfect all-American summer story. It is fun, visual and every American town can relate to it.”

Kennedy said she got the idea for the segment after reading a story by Liz Leyden that appeared in the New York Times on Aug. 7. The feature focused on the unique nature of the U.S. Water Ski Show Team. The team is a summer fixture at Jumpin’ Jack’s, where it is celebrating its 25th year this year. It was founded in 1968.

Team President Eileen Eglin said she got the call from “Early Show” producers a week ago that they wanted to come up and do the segment.

“The last time we had national TV exposure was when we tried to set a Guinness Book record in 1993 for nine jumpers on a ramp,” she said. “We have been fortunate to have a great article about us and to have these guys come up and do this.”

Eglin said she hopes the exposure will help the team raise money for operations. The team needs about $35,000 annually to operate for the season, which runs July through August. Its last show is Aug. 30.

The team consists of volunteers. Team members buy or make their own props and equipment, including skis, to keep down costs, Eglin said.

McGill said Friday’s segment will expand the team’s exposure. “When you get 2 million to 3 million people watching an event, there is a spike of interest,” he said.

McGill is quick to say the water ski team is the true focus of the segment, not himself.

“The guys here are the stars of the show. My job is to try and keep up with them as an average Joe,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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