Archive for the ‘WBC Skier Stories’ Category

World Barefoot Center Skiers on Growing Bolder TV

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Karen Putz, Judy Myers and Keith St. Onge are featured on Growing Bolder, shown on over 250 PBS stations and Create TV:

Find more inspiring video, audio, and images at Growing Bolder.

Laura Szwed Trains at the World Barefoot Center

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Laura Szwed is a senior at Castleton State College, studying psychology, but when she’s not deep into her studies, she’s out barefoot water skiing.  She was recently featured in her college newspaper:

Laura Szwed, Walking on Water

A few weeks ago, Laura spent a week at the World Barefoot Center getting ready for the summer’s competitive circuit.  Here’s what she shared about her experience at the World Barefoot Center:

“I had such a great time skiing at the World Barefoot Center this past April!  It was exactly what I needed for a Spring Break– no school work– just my wetsuit!  I learned so much in the week that I was there.  KSO and Small’z were able to get me back into barefoot shape in no time, and they were able to get me doing things that I never thought I would be able to do in a  short amount of time.  They have my best interest at heart and want me to excel in this sport.  They have faith in me and that really helps to motivate me to try and learn tricks that I never thought was possible.”

Satisfied Skiers at the World Barefoot Center

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Jim Mondl and his son, Nick, spent a day at the World Barefoot Center and shared a review over at Moomba Boards: (reprinted with permission)


My 14 year old son & I just returned from a day at World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, FL. If you have any interest in barefooting, and a few dollars to blow on yourself, go there. WBC is a barefoot school run by world champions Keith St. Onge and David Small, with their coach “Swampy” there as well. Keith spent the morning with us, getting Nick up on his deep water starts for the 1st time ever, and me doing a toe hold and backward barefooting for the 1st time ever. Nick then spent the afternoon with kids his age (Brody and Derek) who are sponsored athletes at WBC. What a day. We would have spent our entire summers working on the basics of those moves, with many painful falls in the process, but instead learned them the right way. Also, many of the budding barefoot contenders train there, so we spent a lot of time hanging with those guys, who were extremely friendly. No egos involved. I am very pumped about barefooting more this summer (of course, I already was before going to Winter Haven). Whether you never barefooted before or already have some basics figured out, they will treat you well and teach you whatever you want to learn. One day of instruction was probably worth many weeks of trying to figure things out on my own. Many fond memories were generated that day.
“Nick’s interest in barefooting skyrocketed after our trip to the World Barefoot Center,” said Jim.  “He was interested in barefooting before, having stepped off a ski a couple of times last summer on the boom and short line, but he is pumped about barefooting now.  The fact that he owns a new KSO barefoot suit probably helps; he seems especially enamored with that.   His goal this summer is to participate in the Figure 8 tournament at Lake St. Louis in August. All we need now is summer!”
Jim has only one regret about his trip to the World Barefoot Center:  “I wish I took more pictures!” he said.

Lauren Lindeman Featured on Chicago Now

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Karen Putz, a writer for the Chicago Tribune Chicago Now, interviewed Lauren Lindeman and featured her on the Chicago Now blog:

Lauren Lindeman, Show Skier and Barefoot Water Skier

World Barefoot Center Mentioned in AARP

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

You don’t have to be a youngster to enjoy the sport of barefoot water skiing. The older generation loves the sport too. The World Barefoot Center received a nice mention in a short article about Joe Malenfant in the April/May 2011 issue of the AARP magazine.

See the full article here: Go Wild, Catch a Wave: Barefoot Waterskiing.

Life at the World Barefoot Center

Friday, April 1st, 2011

What is it like to hang at the World Barefoot Center and receive instruction from the two World Champions?   Here’s a glimpse of life on water with Keith St. Onge and David Small.   (Written by Karen Putz.)

Joann O’Connor and I arrive at the World Barefoot Center early in the morning and meet up with Judy Myers.  Bill Nelson and Gene Burrish arrive.   In the kitchen, the number-one-ranked female, Ashleigh Stebbeings is digging into a bowl of cereal.  World Barefoot Center coach, Swampy, is at the desk in the living room doing some paperwork.  Ben Groen, from New Zealand, is gassing up the boats and getting them ready for the day.

The five of us head out to the dock with Keith St. Onge and we do some stretching exercises to limber up for the day.   We figure out the order of who goes first– I volunteer to go last.  I’m not quite awake yet in the morning.   We toss the gear in the boat and climb in.  Judy Myers puts her head on my shoulder– she’s not quite awake yet either.  Joann looks like she’s full of energy and raring to go.  Gene and Bill look the same way.

It’s not hard to wake up when you see the first skier break out of the water and glide up.  There’s something about barefoot water skiing that fires up that energy inside.  Everyone has a personal trick to work on, and Keith patiently goes through every step.   He’s been teaching since he turned pro at the age of eighteen, but he doesn’t skimp on instruction– he genuinely wants everyone to do their best.  Occasionally, he pulls one of us back in the boat to demonstrate step-by-step what he wants us to improve on.   Every time someone reaches a personal goal or accomplishes a skill they’re working on, the boat explodes in applause.  Keith will toot the horn to cement the victory.  In my case (I am deaf) the participants have learned to wave their hands in the air and sign “awesome.”

Judy and Joann work on their  back toe holds.  Bill works on his back-to-front.  Gene does some front toe-holds.   I battle the elusive backward deep water start.  All througout the morning sets, Keith tweaks our stance on the water and advises us how to improve each trick.  Shoes go on.  Shoes come off.  The long line goes out.  The short line gets rolled up even shorter.  The Headzone helmet goes on, Keith dons the microphone and gives out step-by-step instructions. Slalom, tumble turns, back deeps, toe holds and turns get churned out in two sets each.   We finally head back to the World Barefoot Center for lunch.  We’ve earned it.

In an afternoon with David Small, there are four of us–Joann, Judy, myself and Jean Marie from France.  David’s dogs, Baloo and Charlie join us in the boat.  Jean Marie goes first–he uncovers the tarp from the jump and runs water over it.  Jean Marie has been a solid jumper for years, but today, he’s determined to conquer the inverted style.   David goes over some tips while Jean Marie cinches the helmet.  His first jumps are tentative, but he slowly builds up confidence and begins to invert– and land them.   Applause goes out each time he lands a jump.  I marvel at Small’z’s driving skills as he navigates the boat alongside the ramp, keeping his eye on Jean Marie at the same time.

Charlie and Baloo hop into my lap and proceed to nap.   I watch as Judy and Joann tear up the water with their footin’ skills.  It’s easy to forget that they’re 62 and 68 years old– they look like 21-year-olds on the water.   Joann skis with a fused ankle, but she doesn’t let it stop her from learning new stuff.   Indeed, these two gals push me along, convincing me each time that I can do what they do.  They remind me to be patient each time frustration builds up and they cheer every time I accomplish something new.   David tells me to count to five after I plant.  The elusive back deep water start finally becomes history as I stand up on the water and ride it out.   The throttle goes back at the end of my run and I sink in the water.  The gang in the boat is signing “awesome” as they idle toward me.  It has taken just seven days of instruction with Keith and David to make it happen.  Not bad for a 45-year-old, I say. 

Jean Marie flies through the air on his second set and we rotate on the water yet again before finally calling it a day.  David powers the boat back to the pier as we peel off the wetsuits.  We’ve been on the water through four sets, and we’re tired, but content.   Keith, however, isn’t ready to call it a day.  He is going to head out and do a few jump sets himself.   I stay in the boat while Ben, Ashleigh and Swampy join in.   Ben heads out to the jump.   This is the first time that Keith has jumped in five months, and the first time that I’ve seen him jump– so I’m fascinated as I watch him close up.   The two-time World Champion still gets his jumps tweaked by Swampy between each jump.   There’s always something to change, something to improve on. 

We finally call it a day and it’s time for dinner.  By the time my head crashes on the pillow a few hours later, I’m sore in a few places, but feeling great.  There’s nothing like skimming on the water on bare feet.  At the World Barefoot Center, they make magic happen on water.  I can’t wait to experience it again.

Mind Over Matter in the Boat

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

It’s March 29th and here at the World Barefoot Center we had a very inspirational day out on the water.  We were running two full boats, which were full of complete beginners as well as some of the top skiers in the world.

In the morning, we had a young skier, Kailey Koehler (14 years old), who had been battling her toe up on the long line as well as her turns on the shoe skis.  She went out and tried her toe up without some of her usual equipment that usually helps her and couldn’t accomplish it successfully.

Kailey climbed in the boat and had a chat with David Small about what was going wrong and how most of it was simply due to lack of confidence and commitment.  She changed her attitude, went straight back out, and nailed the very next toe up behind the boat with ease.

On her following sets, she worked on surface turns, where she has a problem with crushing and falling away on a lot of her turns.  Again, she changed her attitude before she went out there, and after doing some visualization and dry land training, she completed her turns with conviction and skied the best she ever had.  Good job Kailey!!!

By: David Small