Johnathan Martines: How I Started Barefoot Water Skiing

Whenever I tell someone who has no idea about the sport that I barefoot waterski, the second most common question they ask me is “How did you get started in such a unique sport?” (The first question is regarding whether or not it hurts your feet.) Well, the way I got started in the sport isn’t a magnificent story of seeing it in a ski show and wanting to try it immediately. I was essentially born into the sport.

In the early 1960’s when my grandfather, John Martines Sr., was in high school and college, he would spend his summers water skiing on Crystal Lake in Pennsylvania. As a trick, he would step off a ski and barefoot around the lake. This was all he could do. There were no surface turns or toeholds for him.

When my father was 12, he learned how to barefoot from my grandfather. During his high school and college years, my father competed at a regional and national level. When I was born, going to tournaments took the backseat to raising a family. Even though my father stopped competing for a bit, he still continued to barefoot and waterski.

When I was 7, it was only natural that I started barefooting. My father encouraged me from a young age to start barefooting. I was crazy about the sport for a bit, but I kind of lost interest for a while. I preferred wakeboarding and skate took a trip to boarding over barefooting.

When I was 11 years old, my family took a summer vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. The weekend after the vacation, we drove to Vienna, Maryland, where the Eastern Regionals were being held. I skied that tournament and absolutely loved it! I ended up skiing my first nationals also that year.

Even though I continued to compete, I still didn’t take the sport very seriously. I wasn’t willing to pay the price and make the sacrifices necessary to get good. When I was 14, a change happened in me, I started taking the sport seriously and really loving it. Going skiing was all I could ever think of and I wanted desperately to get good. Now, I’m 16 and that bug hasn’t left me. Words can’t describe how much I love training and competing. There’s no better feeling than accomplishing a goal you have worked so hard towards achieving!

By: Johnathan Martines

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One Response to “Johnathan Martines: How I Started Barefoot Water Skiing”

  1. Paul Scheirich says:

    i too had a water skiing family, but nobody knew how to barefoot. i was the first to learn some basics from trial and error when i was about 28 i think… and there were more errors than trials. i am now 44. i gave it up for a long time for various reasons, but ill get back into it soon. my uncle, who i copied my monoski drystarts etc from, came to visit me in bangkok the other week. ever since i attempted barefooting back in my late 20s, i had wished my uncle was a footer so i learn from someone. i put on lane’s video for him to watch and i expected him to be blown away. he looked depressed a little and said i was 20 years too late. he’s pushing 70 now and was crippled by arthritis until he had some joints replacedand those thar werent bent in different directions. it saddened me to see my super skiing hero in such a state.

    it is good that you had your family to get you started… no doubt about it, but most importantly, from what i have come to realize, although as much as you look up to them as you do, they also look up to you, because they live through you and no doubt enjoy seeing you you do stuff just as much as you do.

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