Archive for the ‘Sponsored Skier Posts’ Category

Lizzie Rhea: the End of Barefooting Season

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014


This is the time of year that I trade in barefoot waterskiing for horseback riding and basketball. I love both of those things, but I am going to miss barefooting season more than ever this year. I am always sad to end the ski season when October rolls around. We closed down our house at the lake yesterday, and I have been down in the dumps thinking about it.

I think I will miss it more this year, because I am right in the middle of working harder to learn new things. It is sad to think that I have to postpone my goals for several months. I would love to keep pushing forward and be able to practice all year.

The only good thing about my sport being seasonal, is that I won’t get burned out. I guess it is a good thing that I love it, and don’t want to take such a long break! I have one more long weekend to look forward to at the WBC, and then I have to wait until next April to barefoot again! It is like thinking about Christmas in the summertime!

Lizzie Rhea






Jim Forster: My Travel Destinations

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

As the tournament season winds down, for most of us, our focus turns to work and/or school. We still continue to ski, but as Fall is upon us and Winter approaches, the weather and cooler temperatures reduce the opportunity to ski. I would like to share with you some of my recent travel experiences, since I’m not sure how many of you get the opportunity to travel to other countries. I am very fortunate that my chosen profession affords me to travel all over the world, as I just returned from a 15 day trip to South America and Africa. I left Brownsville, TX. the night of September 16 ( this was a technical stop for fuel and to swap crews, as the trip originated in Oakland, CA. ) and flew to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, a 9 1/2 hour flight, where we spent 2 nights. Then it was off to Windhoek, Namibia on the continent of Africa, a 7 hour flight and the weather over the South Atlantic was absolutely beautiful! Not many aircraft cross that far south, but it was a smooth flight. Namibia used to be called Southwest Africa and gained its independence from South Africa in 1990. It’s a progressive country and fairly modern, having been settled by the Germans and their influence was seen everywhere. My crew and I booked several game safaris and spent the next 6 days exploring the wildlife on some of the largest private game reserves in the world. All the big game animals of Africa were seen and the scenery was spectacular! I actually got within 2 feet of a female cheetah, as they are pretty calm compared to the other big cats.

en it was on to Maun, in the northwest part of Botswana,  a short flight, only 50 minutes. but Botswana was a big change from Namibia. Here we were in the ‘bush’, as this was in the Okavango Delta, a part of Africa that all the animals come to water and feed themselves. It was very hot, about 100 degrees and there are several game parks that are protected from hunting and poaching. We spent 5 days there and took a safari in to the Moremi National Park and really saw the animals in the wild and up close. Elephants, giraffe, lions, hippos, water buffalo, zebras just to name a few. They truly are magnificent animals up close and in their natural habitat, no bars or fences to keep them in, it made me appreciate just how much that they need to be protected. We then took a boat tour through the delta, and it was very much like being in the Everglades. tall grass and water for miles. That’s were I came in close contact with a large group of elephants and at times, was as close as 20 feet! We probably saw about 200 elephants that day, pretty amazing. There were stretches of glass, calm water and all I could think of was how much that I’d love to ski on it. But there’s no skiing there as the water is full of hippos and crocodiles :-(. Oh well, I can still dream about it though.

I really enjoyed my time in Namibia and Botswana, but everything must come to and end and it was off to London, an 11 hour 48 minute flight. Here, we took on an extra pilot as we require 3 pilots for flights over 10 hours. We landed about 10 PM and spent 2 nights there. The weather was noticeably cooler, about 68 degrees and we stayed at the Parklane Hilton, right across the street from Hyde Park. I always enjoy the hustle and bustle of downtown London and my stay was too short. The next morning, we took off and flew the final leg home to Oakland, another long flight of 10 hours 30 minutes. Our route of flight took us far north to 78 degrees Latitude, which is above the center of Greenland, before turning back to the southwest over the Artic Control areas of Canada and into the Pacific Northwest, finally landing in Oakland. What a trip! It was for me, a trip of a lifetime and don’t know when I’ll go back again. So when you’re wondering what to do with your spare time or a vacation, remember, the possibilities are endless, don’t be afraid to go out there and see the World!

Jim Forster

Duane Godfrey: Boom Height for Barefooting

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

I have been fortunate to receive the ski school experience over the years. I watch the instructor like a hawk and notice their exceptional instruction, analysis and driving skills. The staff is also cognizant and adept at changing boom height. On a given day, I have seen the height adjusted up to 20X.

Having seen the light, it seems to me that when skiing recreationally, one should consider changing boom height for different skiers and the tasks at hand vs leaving the boom at a fixed height and suffering through the consequences. On a given set at WBC, I see for example the boom set for starts and one foots (medium height) then lowered for front and back toeholds. For the next skier it might be raised to above medium height for turns and then lowered to medium or lower for toeturns. It all makes sense – learning and practicing under optimal conditions.

Yet recreationally I see groups that NEVER change the height even though these skiers are trying very hard to accomplish their goals. I notice them trying to learn back toe holds where the strap is literally above their head height with the skier wondering why it is so hard to get into the strap when leaning way too far away with straight ski leg trying to get the free leg up to the elusive strap. Same thing for toeups: Contrary to some beliefs, it is harder to learn this trick on the boom with the strap too high. You are less stable on the water with your free leg jacked up, one has to lean a bit further back than desired and it is harder to slam that foot in and/or place it in and drive it down; the upper body should be at least vertical or slightly forward while powering it up. Granted it is slightly easier to toe up on the SFH vs tower because there is some upward assist, however the adjustment in body angle while riding the butt is negligible. It is really pushing down on the standup leg that does the trick. For the simple basic front toe hold, it makes a lot of sense to have the boom lower so it isn’t so much a stretch to get that foot up, out and in the strap. The final act in getting the foot forward and in the strap is a slight arm pull yet when the boom is too high it causes one to straighten the free leg and lean back to get those last few inches. I can’t even type this without holding a mighty ab flex when imagining the dreaded high boom toeup and/or toehold!

WBC also uses a rope extension – usually 5’ (therefore 10’ total) from the boom that helps making it more like the longline. This extension is a really good idea as it also dampens the force pulling the skier straight. I tend to overturn my basic f-b. On the SFH or extension, the error is dampened and I can get away with the error without falling. Whereas on the 5’, when I turn past center, I find the recovery very tough and don’t need a practice fall to remind me. The 5’ is just too artificial to me. The extension also dampens effects of a too high boom.

Next time you are at a ski school, notice the driver’s attention to changing boom height for different skiers and differing tricks. Just my opinion, but I think it a worthwhile investment to get an adjustable boom clamp and becoming “expert” at quickly adjusting height a/r.

Duane Godfrey

Don't let this happen--lower the boom!

Kailey Koehler: My First World Championship

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

One of my most memorable trips, and by far the most beautiful place in the world is New Zealand. I went to my first world competition in 2009 as an independent skier. I did not qualify to ski in the jump event, but I did ski in both the slalom and the trick event. My first worlds was a success. My goal was to beat myself, and that is exactly what I did. I got a PB in both events and I couldn’t have been any happier.

While practicing for the competition, Team USA got the honor of skiing on Lake Keelings. Although the name doesn’t sound familiar, almost everyone has seen this lake because it is where Lord of the Rings was filmed. Unfortunately, this lake had many good memories along with a few bad ones. One in particular was when I bit all the way through my bottom lip while doing a tumble turn to a one foot stand up. Although it didn’t hurt too bad, it looked really bad and it was embarrassing to meet people from all over the world at the opening ceremonies with a fat lip. The 2009 championship was an amazing first world competition and I cherish the good and bad memories forever.


David Baranowski: New to Competition

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014


My name is David Baranowski and I live in Philadelphia. I started barefooting in 2006 when I bought my first ski boat, my wife thought it was cool to watch but didn’t want anything to do with it except drive for me, she then sent me to Florida for some training and I was addicted to it even more.

I started to learn tumbles and then on to 1 foots, what a blast learning them, I went to a clinic with Keith St. Onge for a day and wow was it awesome, so this year I ran a clinic with Keith and worked on back ones that I’m having such a hard time with, but was determined to get them. I am going to do my first tournament at the eastern regionals in Pennsylvania and my goal is to do all four tumbles to one and to front toes. I cannot wait to get to the wbc and ski my butt off and work as hard as I can to make myself and the WBC proud.

David Baranowski

Will Rhea, Dealing with an Injury

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

I had my first true barefooting injury in July, while skiing at the WBC. I have always had to deal with bumps and bruises from barefooting, but never anything serious. This time, however, I had a bad fall on a jump that made me lose my breath and my ribs were in a lot of pain. I tried to keep skiing through the pain, but it just got worse.

I was so disappointed and did not want to stop skiing. I kept trying to ski, but my focus was on my ribs, and not my skiing. This was not how I had planned my training time! I had several days left at the WBC, and two upcoming tournaments. I took the next two days off to rest and recover.

The morning I tried to ski again, as soon as I crunched my abs forward on my toe up, I felt a pop and a jolt of pain, and I lost my breath again. I was in even more pain than the first time. This is when I knew that I could not ski anymore.

I was so crushed and disappointed to have to stop skiing. I missed out on competing in the Southern Regionals, as well as Nationals. I did enjoy watching my sister, Lizzie, compete though.

I went to the doctor as soon as I got home, and he said that I had damaged the cartilage on the front of my 8th and 9th ribs. The pop I felt was my cartilage. He said that I had probably bruised it on the first fall, and did more damage by trying to keep skiing through the pain. He told me that it would take 6 to 8 weeks to heal, and that I had to be inactive for at least a month (which was the worst part)!

It has now been 6 weeks, and I have been cleared by my doctor to ski again. I am not in pain anymore, and I am so ready to try to ski next weekend! I will never take my health, and the opportunity to ski for granted again!

Will Rhea

Sam Meredith, My Summer at the World Barefoot Center

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

This was my 2nd trip to the World Barefoot Center and certainly the warmest ski conditions I’ve experienced where there is no temperature difference between being in or out of the water. I had little ski time over the last year due to bad weather and logistics but managed to keep up a daily workout in the gym for strength endurance and fitness. Xmas 2012 at the World Barefoot Center got me from just about standing on the water to consistent front toe holds, tumbles and stand up to one foots and getting up backwards behind the boat. I was a little nervous it would take me a while to get back to where I was after a year with a small amount of ski practice.

The first few days worked on my front toe holds, slalom and backwards getting more and more confident. After the 5 days training I worked on backwards one foots on the 10 foot line working up to a toe hold which I managed to nail once after some work, although my one foot position needed much work for consistency.

During the second week of my visit I worked on consistency doing back deeps which took some time to get the hang of again. Ashleigh helped me become more consistent with this by gliding for long passes then eventually getting up backwards and then back down to the glide at the end of the pass. From getting the hang of that I moved it to behind the boat and rarely missed a start and practised getting out of the wake then managing a wake crossing. I also worked on my front trick pass consisting of toe holds and tumbles to one foots. As I became stronger in my toe hold position I started to learn the toe up starting from a negative which after at least 30 attempts managed to complete on the 10 foot.

Also a big part of my stay included fitness training for the team Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. The training was mainly body weight circuits but involved sprints, swimming and some weighted exercises every workout involved almost every muscle group and lasted approx. 90 minutes. The fitness training was orientated around skiing and interval style sprints or swims this is similar to the way a ski set is achieved by doing a series of intense passes.

Johnathan Martines: Learning to Instruct

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

For the past 3 years, I have been spending my summers and the majority of my school breaks training at the WBC. Each time I went down, it was basically the same routine. I would usually ski all day and help out around the ski school with whatever needed to be done. My duties would include simple chores around the house like taking out the trash, vacuuming, and packaging orders.

This year, however, a new part of my journey in barefooting began. I began learning to instruct other skiers. I started out by watching Ben and Ash instruct a number of different students. I paid attention to the way they interacted with the person in the water and how they adjusted their instructing style when the skier was not responding.

Eventually, I began to instruct a select few students with either Ash or Ben in the boat.

For me, this wasn’t very difficult. If I had a question about anything or was unsure of myself, I could ask Ash or Ben and get the answer immediately. I usually instructed skiers who were working on intermediate tricks like back toes, line one foots, and slalom.

After instructing with a more experienced instructor in the boat, the moment of truth came, it was my turn to take out some skiers on my own. For me, this was extremely intimidating. Being that I’m still a teenager, many of the people that I was instructing were older than me. I felt intimidated and unsure of myself. Eventually Swampy sat down and had a talk with me. He had heard from a skier that I seemed unsure of myself. Swampy told me to believe in myself and to be confident and vocal while instructing.

I took this advice and acted on it. I started being more confident in my instructing and acting like a leader while in the boat. I started noticing that the skiers responded much better to the instruction when I was confident in what I was telling them.

Beginning the journey of learning to instruct this summer was awesome. It gave me more self-confidence and forced me to be more responsible. I was no longer responsible for only my own skiing, but I was also responsible for how the skier I was instructing was skiing. Without the help of everyone at the WBC, I would never have had the opportunity to learn to instruct. I am still a beginner when it comes to instructing, and I look forward to becoming a much better instructor over the upcoming years.

Johnathan Martines

Barefooting with the Legends

Monday, August 25th, 2014

On October 25th, an amazing event called “Legends.” This unique USA Waterski Foundation fundraiser allows the everyday skier to rub shoulders with the greatest water skiers of all time – the skiers who have shaped the sport into what it is today.

“Legends” is in its fourth year, but due to its incredible success with raising money for the USA Waterski Foundation, it has expanded this year to include barefooting and LD jumping for the first time.

The barefoot legends who are attending the event so far are Ron Scarpa, Mike Seipel, Peter Fleck, and John Gillette (who literally wrote the book on barefooting!). I have invited several other legends as well, so I will update you with the legend attendees as the event draws closer.

Here is how the barefoot event will run: On Saturday, October 25th barefooters who purchase a skier package will meet at WBC at 7:00am for registration, and will be on the water at 8:00am. Ron Scarpa and Mike Seipel are the instructors for the day, and each skier will spend half the day with both of them. In other words, if you ski with Mike in the morning, you will ski with Ron in the afternoon, and vice versa. Your morning and afternoon sets will be broken up with a lunch that will be provided at the WBC. The lunch kicks off what we are calling the “WBC Beach Party” because it is here that the other legends and people who purchase a non-skier package will congregate for the afternoon. The lunch/beach party will be a fun reunion for the legends and a great opportunity for skiers to meet and hang out with some legendary barefooters! At the end of the day, the barefooters will come together with the slalom skiers and LD jumpers for an awards banquet and dinner at the Fantasy of Flight.

For the record, “Legends” is an entire weekend filled with fun activities you can attend. On Friday night and Sunday afternoon there are activities taking place at the USA Waterski Headquarters….but for simplicity I will not explain them here.

Contact Teri Larson at the World Barefoot Center at (863) 877-0039 or check out the USA Waterski Foundation website to register or for more details.

Anyone who is participating in the “Legends” event has a few options to choose from. You can choose a skier package, non-skier package, Saturday banquet only, or you can donate auction items. The skier package includes access to allwater and land events being held from October 24th to 26th, a goodie bag, a tour of the Hall of Fame, and of course…a day of skiing with Mike and Ron.

WE HAVE 10 SPOTS FOR SKIERS…so get on it quickly if you want to ski! A non-skier package can be just as much fun as the skier package. Non-skier packages include a tour of the Hall of Fame, entry into the WBC beach party on Saturday, and admission to the Saturday night banquet. Tickets for the Saturday night banquet are also available. The USA Waterski foundation is also looking for silent auction items that people can bid on at the Saturday night banquet.

The USA Waterski foundation a subsidiary of USA Waterski that is responsible for funding the Waterski Hall of Fame and all of the waterski scholarships that are awarded to athletes every year. All proceeds for this event are
donated to the USA Waterski foundation. Therefore, “Legends” is a great event for a great cause. You won’t want to miss it! Register online ASAP to secure your spot!

Click here to register your spot in the boat!

Teri Larson

Jerry Kanawyer: I Found the Cure for Elbow Pain

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

I have been competing for 28 years now. Wow, I can still remember my first tournament, but that’s not the issue that I’m here to address. From the many years of skiing and especially for me, tricks like the flip have taken a toll on my elbows. I have had tendonitis in my elbows for about 8 years now. It gets so bad at times that I can’t lift my arm. It really makes it tough to train, and it cuts into my time on the water. I have tried numerous ways of trying to get them healed. I have tried Aleve for a long period of time. It does help a little, but it never completely heals them. I have tried weights, working the muscles around the joints. I have tried rubber band work outs and stretches. What finally worked for me was I made my own elbow braces. My elbows don’t hurt while or after I ski any more. I do have to wear them every time I ski, but it’s worth it, having the satisfaction that I don’t have to worry about them anymore.