"When you hold back is when you get in trouble," said Sam, cheering as Sammy came out of his spectacular second run, pumping his left arm in victory. In the boat Camille applauded, leading the cheers of an estimated 10,000 fans—"biggest ski crowd I've seen in this country," said Sammy—many of whom had waded chest deep into Robin Lake for a better look. When the people in the water started shouting "Flip! Flip!" Sammy gave them the just-for-the-hell-of-it backflip that has become his signature. The flip drew one of the loudest cheers of the day for the skier who was clearly the crowd's favorite. "We've got to give the people what they want if we expect the sport to keep growing," says Sammy.
Sammy showed a lot of mental toughness, but on this afternoon he was outdone by his sister. "Competition makes me mean," said Camille. But in trying to qualify for the two-woman runoff of the jump event, she took a horrific-looking backward tumble off the ramp, a fall in which her ski tip came back and hit her in the chin, causing her to take a bite out of the left side of her tongue. Three safety boats rushed to the scene, and driver Walker later told Sam, "She came up blowin' blood all over the place." As one of the boats maneuvered to take her aboard, Camille slapped her jumping helmet back on, told Walker to take her up, then went out and kicked off a 133-foot jump, longest of the day. Camille eventually lost the runoff to England's Karen Morse and finished third for the overall title. "No, I never thought about quitting," she said later, applying ice to an ugly purple "divot in my tongue."
"Camille's strength," said the women's overall winner, Deena Brush of Sacramento, who has skied against Camille since 1973, "is that she's great in her head."
"Women take the same risks as men and we work as hard," said Camille. "One of the good things about the water-skiing tour is that purses are equal for men and women." But equal doesn't mean sufficient, and Camille's 1984 prize money of $17,500 and Sammy's of $8,612 are not enough to provide them with a living. However, equipment endorsements (Sammy has seven, more than any other skier; Camille has five) and ski school revenue bring Sammy's annual income to about $150,000 and Camille's to about $35,000.
"Pro water skiing is at least coming to the point where the very best skiers can afford a house, a BMW and a Rolex," says Camille, who drives the car, wears the watch and is, even now, hunting the house.
Of course, there is little chance the Duvalls could ever financially repay their father. Not that Daddy cares. "When I was 16 and won my first money," says Sammy, "Dad told me, 'You know I'll have money for you kids if you need it, but since you're earning your own, I don't expect you to ask me for any.' "
And they haven't. After all, Sammy and Camille have what they need. So does Daddy.