Kris LaPoint is a Berkeley dropout with shoulder-length blond hair and a beard, and he lives in California in what appears to be a commune. As any census taker worth his weight in short forms might assume, this guy is either a leftover flower child or religious cultist.
But if the census taker sent LaPoint the long form to complete, he would find out that he's dealing with a head-of-household who is about as laid back as a FORTUNE 500 board member. Consider what LaPoint would include under the heading "occupation": selling for one company, co-owning another, running yet another business from his house. He fills in his spare hours racing cars, and, oh yes, he's also a water skier, perhaps the best slalom skier ever. His younger brother, Bob, will verify that.
Kris has been an achiever ever since, at the age of 14, he won the men's open slalom title at the Masters, a tournament every bit as prestigious in water skiing as its namesake is in golf. Since then he has won six more Masters, six nationals and scores of professional titles. But if Kris is the board chairman of slaloming, then brother Bob, two-time defending world champion and co-holder of the world record with Kris, is the chief executive officer. Together not only are they a water skiing dynasty, but they may also be the premier brother combo in the history of any sport.
?Between them they've won every national open slalom title since 1971 and six of the seven Masters they've entered.
?No other skier has ever finished first in a professional slalom tournament in which at least one of the LaPoints has competed...ever.
?In the 100 or so amateur and professional tournaments in which they've participated together since advancing out of the boys' division in 1971 (Kris) and 1973 (Bob), there have been only two occasions when a LaPoint didn't win—the 1974 Masters and the 1975 worlds.
"Competing against the LaPoints is like trying to run a marathon against Bill Rodgers or play tennis against Bjorn Borg," says John Steinbuch, a former world-class slalomer.
Tony Krupa, one of the 20 best slalomers in the world, says: "When slalom skiers work out, they always ask themselves, 'Am I practicing good enough to beat the LaPoints?' They obviously haven't been, because for the last 12 or 13 years everyone else has been irrelevant."
For the first eight of those years, Kris ruled by himself. Bob, at 25 two years younger than his brother, spent most of that time breaking Kris' age-group records and finishing second to him in men's events. Then in 1974 Bob got his first major professional title, the Saucier Cup, and won the California Cup, which had been Kris' the five previous years. The following year Bob won his first Masters. In 1976 he won the Masters again and the nationals. In 1977, Kris was back winning almost everything, except the biannual world championships, which Bob won.