Alexis McCauley: My First Nationals

November 29th, 2014


The 2012 U.S. Barefoot Waterski National Championships was held in Waco, Texas at the Barefoot Ski Ranch. The drive from Ohio was about twenty-one hours.

We arrived early the first day for sight familiarization around 8:00 AM. We sat on the start dock gazing down the lake. After about 15 minutes, my dad tells me to look and see Keith St. Onge riding a bike down the bike path. Once he got to the dock, he introduced himself to us. He shook his hands with us and he said it was great seeing us barefoot waterski as a family. My whole family was there my dad, mom, brother, sister, grandma, and Aunt Tina. Keith asked if it was ok for him to take a practice run and we said absolutely. Watching Keith was really awesome, he was so smooth and flawless.

We then all skied out our practice runs. I was having a great time meeting people from all around the country and world. I skied my passes and was able to get another personal best score in tricks and slalom.

At the banquet I received a 2nd place medal. I was able to meet Ashleigh Stebbings and Swampy for the first time. Now they are both of my coach’s at WBC. Looking back to the 2012 Nationals, it had opened my eyes to bigger dreams.

Alexis McCauley




Sam Meredith: Barefoot Clinic with David Small

November 17th, 2014

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I booked in for a ski clinic with David Small in September in sunny England. I was looking to improve my backwards position on both feet and one foot. Having spent 3 weeks in June at the World Barefoot Center, I did about 50% of my training skiing backwards and became quite confident on two feet by the end of my stay, but when it came to doing one foots, my technique and body position slipped making me very unstable.

I arrived at the lake in Cambridge and I was cold as soon as I stepped out the car. My first ski pass was a front pass working on my toe holds and tumble turns which were a little shakey and slow at first but managed to get them all in, in the short pass. Dave had me repeat this for another couple of passes then had me trying to complete as many toe holds in my pass he set me a target of 10 which I missed a few times by 1 or 2 then on my last run just about got.

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For my second set of the morning Dave had me skiing backwards. I did a few passes and he made some adjustments to my ski position to stop me skiing too clean on my feet and arching my shoulders more which felt a lot less sketchy. At the end of my set, he had me doing my one foots which I didn’t really struggle with too much. Before I started, he just said, “don’t dive away too much when you pick your foot up” which stuck in my head and made it a lot easier and managed a pass of some good steady one foots. For the end of my set in the morning I tried a couple of passes at a back toe hold which I managed to get my foot up and in the toe strap but as soon as I let go I fell off my standing foot by leaning the wrong way Dave said my leg was far too bent and I needed body position to be far more upright to make it easier.

After an hour long hot shower and lunch, I did my second half of the day just working my backwards one foots on shoe skis again trying to complete as many as I could in one pass my target was 20 which took my a couple of passes but then once I got the hand of transferring my weight onto the standing foot, I managed it. For my second set, I worked on back toe holds on shoe skis both basic and reverse, concentrating on standing more upright in the toe hold position which made me much more stable. By the end of the set, I managed to get two in the pass.

Sam Meredith

Alexis McCauley: My First Tournament

November 5th, 2014


My first tournament was the 2012 Chick Fest at the Blue Moo in Wisconsin. My mom and dad were not able to go because they were working. My grandma Julie drove my sister Syd and me to Wisconsin, which was ten hours away from where we lived.

My grandma took us to the site at 7 am when the start time was around 8. I was not expecting this long, narrow lake in the ground. Slowly one by one, people started showing up. They were very laid back, calm, and friendly. Everyone was so welcoming. They asked who we were, where we were from, and how long we skied. All the friendly people helped calm my nerves. The boat driver was going to be the guy with the dog which I couldn’t remember his name [David Small]. I remember the dog, Charlie, because of pictures I had seen. Later I found out the driver was the champion of the whole world. I thought, he has to be as good of a driver as my dad.

I watched the Kohler girls skied. “WOW!” I was very impressed. My sister skied and got a personal best. It was my turn to go. In the water, I told Mr. Small I would stand up in the middle if I didn’t make it out. Never skiing off a super fly high or a Sanger before, my brother said it felt just like being on the boom. So, I called a slow-medium- medium start to 27 mph. Mr. Small gave me a good start. I planted my feet, to stand and I edged out. All I could hear was everyone cheering from shore for me to be skiing my first tournament. My trick run was sit down, stand up, and hand-hand. My second pass was just to ski down the lake and wave to the crowd. The rest of the day was so much fun, meeting David Small and Charlie, hanging out with a lot of the other girls. I heard good job and got high 5’s all day. I was looking forward to my next tournament in three weeks, the Eastern Regional’s. Then my final destination was Waco,Texas for my first U.S. Barefoot Nationals.

Alexis McCauley

Will Rhea: Barefooting Benefits Other Sports

November 4th, 2014

Barefooting is my favorite sport, only slightly above basketball and football. I put up my barefoot gear for the winter, then finished my football season last week, and now I am about to start basketball. I was just thinking that I am lucky that my favorite sports do not overlap, and I can give each sport my full attention when it is in season. Barefooting actually benefits my athletic performance in both football and basketball, both physically and mentally.

Physically, barefooting has made me stronger and tougher. It has improved my balance, and helped me to break tackles in football. The balance helps on the basketball court as well. Barefooting has also improved my core strength tremendously, which helps in any sport. Also, the hard falls in barefooting have helped me to jump up quickly after being tackled.

Mentally, barefooting has also made me stronger and tougher for other sports. It has taught me to try harder when I fail and make mistakes. It has also taught me not to think about the past, but to focus on the present, and what I can control right now.

Will Rhea

James Callahan: My WBC Experience

October 30th, 2014

Hello my name is James. I am 11 years old, and I live in Minneapolis, MN. I am writing this blog to tell you about my WBC (World Barefoot Center) experience. I have been down to the WBC twice now. The first time I went down was in June 2014 with my Grandma. When I went down to the ski school the first time, I had only just learnt how to short rope on the boom. After being at WBC for two days, I progressed to doing a long line deep water start.

I recently went down to the WBC for my second time in October 2014. I had the greatest time of my life. It was the first time that I flew by myself on an airplane to anywhere. At first I was a little scared but after the flight attendants helped me and gave me cookies, it was all good. When I got down to the Tampa Bay, FL airport my Grandpa was picking me up and I could tell he was nervous. He didn’t want to lose me or do something wrong. Then when I got to his place everything was ok. My Grandpa lives down in St. Petersburg, FL so it was very convenient that he lives really close to the WBC ski school.

The next morning we woke up at 6.00am to drive to Winter Haven. When we arrived at the ski school, I met the WBC crew. It was so much fun and everyone was funny and kind. I got to meet David Small, Ben Groen and Keith St. Onge! They are very nice and great teachers.

The second time I was down there for the week I learnt so much like tumble turns, toe holds and back deep starts. I look forward to practicing at home and down in Florida. I am hoping to keep progressing in the sport. Even though I love barefooting, I will also enjoy playing hockey this winter. I can’t wait to get back to WBC and hang out with the gang.

– James Callahan

Lizzie Rhea: the End of Barefooting Season

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






Jerry Kanawyer: Choosing a Barefoot Wetsuit

October 16th, 2014

Your choice of a barefoot wetsuit is a big decision; it can help your skiing, or make your skiing a lot harder. Especially with certain tricks, like tumble turns, flips, and starts.

My last barefoot suit was an okay suit when I first bought it, but it fell apart real fast, in less than a year. I was at the world championships, and was struggling with my flips. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that the wetsuit was the problem until I returned home. The wetsuit had completely delaminated. I pulled a three year old wetsuit out of my closet, and instantly my flips were back to normal.

Don’t let your wetsuit make it more difficult for you to do all of your skiing. A bad suit would also make it more difficult to learn something new. Make it easy on yourself with good quality equipment. The wetsuit should be snug fitting and remember when it gets wet it will stretch a little. If you’re in between sizes it’s always better to have a tighter fit rather than loose, but not so tight that you lose your mobility. A loose fitting suit will get hung up when sliding a cross the water and cause maneuvers to be extra hard to accomplish.

Jerry Kanawyer

Jim Forster: My Travel Destinations

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

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

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.