David Baranowski: New to Competition

September 23rd, 2014

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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

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

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

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

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

2014 Footstock Results

August 17th, 2014

Foot Stock Figure 8 World Championship

Foot Stock is held way up north in Crandon, Wisconsin. This year Keith St. Onge, David Small, and Lauren St. Onge made the trip to compete. Keith and Lauren have attended many times over the years but this is Dave’s first time! Everyone was extremely welcoming as always. Every year this tournament tends to bring out the top barefoot figure eight skiers. The bar has been set high. Can 3 event barefoot World Champions Keith and Dave hang with the figure eighters? Peter Fleck has won this tourney for 4 years in a row!

Even though it was calm the first day the water was still a little rough, backwash and boat rollers caught skiers off guard. A big deal at FootStock is to make it to the Sunday Club, which means the skier made it through the brackets and has not been eliminated after Saturday’s competitions. Keith, Dave and Lauren earned Sunday Club Shirts!

Day two looked like it was going to be long because it was glass calm conditions. Luckily the wind started to blow and the odds became more difficult. It was go time for the finalists!

David Small and Fleck, we were all expecting the long, long, long run of the day and to our surprise Dave goes down early do to an extended butt ride. It’s all part of the learning experience of figure eights. Fleck advances.
Keith St. Onge is taken out by Chad Mietz after 2 ¼ eights. Way to go guys!

For the Open Final Marc Donahue and Peter Fleck! Fleck has not lost a match in 3 years. Today was the day Donahue takes Fleck down in the first eight. Donahue has to beat Fleck one more time to take the gold. In the end Fleck succeeds and wins its again. Congrats!

Footstock 2014 Results

Senior Division:

From Left to Right
1st Pete Fleck (Florida)
2nd Marc Donahue (Indiana)
3rd Chad Mietz (Wisconsin)
4th Bob Mahnke (Michigan)

Junior Division:

Left to Right
1st Brody Meskers (Wisconsin)
2nd Isaac Aukee (Michigan)
3rd Spencer Schallock (Wisconsin)
4th Henry Kerschbaum (Wisconsin)

Women’s Division:

Left to Right

1st Amanda Cotter (Wisconsin)
2nd Haley Gibbon (Wisconsin)
3rd Kristina Ruchti (Minnesota)
4th Amanda Nelson (Wisconsin)

Masters Division

Right to Left

1st Wayne King (Canda)
2nd Dave Hopkins (Michigan)
3rd Mike Netzer (Wisconsin)

Open Division:

1st Pete Fleck (Florida)
2nd Marc Donahue (Indiana)
3rd Chad Mietz (Wisconsin)
4th David Small (England)
5th Keith St Onge (Florida)
6th Kyle Kazel (Minnesota)
7th Brody Meskers (Wisconsin)
8th Luke Bruckner (Wisconsin)
9th Colt Wennlund (Wisconsin)
10th Kevin MacGregor (Minnesota)
11th Jacob Weber (Minnesota)
12th Nick Ruchti (Minnesota)
13th Greg Fatla (Wisconsin)
14th Ron Blouw (Michigan)
15th Alex Mahnke (Wisconsin)
16th Martin Lorenz (Minnesota)

Until next year FOOTSTOCK!!

Lauren St. Onge

Jerry Kanawyer: I Found the Cure for Elbow Pain

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.

Jim Forster: My Barefooting Friend Duane Godfrey

August 8th, 2014

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As we find ourselves right in the middle of the ski season, some of us are engaged in intense barefoot training, trying to improve our tricks, slalom and jump. But you can’t do it alone, you have to ski with other individuals that have similar goals. I have one such friend and ski partner in Duane Godfrey. For those of you not familiar with Duane, he’s one of the most dedicated, focused skiers I have ever met. His nickname ‘Captain Intensity’ can give you an idea of how dedicated he is to improving his skiing, and let me tell you, this guy can ski! I’m a ripe old 53 years old and can barely perform all four 180 surface turns consistently, but Duane who is 5 years older, can perform 180s, 360s and even 540s, including 1 foot turns! When I watch him ski, it gives me inspiration ( and hope ) to improve my skiing and maybe one day I’ll be able to do what he has. He serves as an example to young and old skiers alike that you’re never to old to learn.

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But I have to tell you a story about Duane’s latest accomplishment. There he and I were, this past Sunday, skiing at my favorite place and behind my 2004 Sanger. We had perfect conditions, glass calm water and it’s Duane’s turn to ski. He starts with his usual back deep to 44 mph, position turn to the front and then a series of maybe 14 turns in variious combinations ( 360s, 180s, 540s ) and then he ends up in forward BSP. As he rides along, I’m thinking he”ll soon throw the handle to end the pass, but wait, he’s still skiing! He loads ino a front toe hold, waits a few seconds and then does a beautiful toe back. Now I’m thinking, OK, he’s done and he’ll kick out of it and on to the next pass……but wait, he pauses, sets up and does his very first toe front! And let me tell you, it was textbook perfect, no faltering or near butt outs, just a clean feet to feet toe front long line. His arms were raised above his head and he was all smiles, I think I heard his yell over the droning of the boat engine! I was truly amazed at what I just witnessed and now the bar has been raised.

But on top of his skiing, Duane is also a kind, caring person and will go out of his way to help anybody. I first met Duane at the 2010 Worlds in Brandenburg, Germany where we both competed for our countries ( he for Canada, and I for the USA ). We struck up a conversation on the starting dock and the rest is history. Duane comes to Florida to ski when he’s not flying as an Airbus A319/320/321 captain and we train together either at the WBC or in West Palm Beach. Being a pilot myself, the conversation naturally turns to flying when we’re not talking about skiing so there’s no lack of conversation between the 2 of us. As Duane heads off to the Canadian Nationals this weekend and I to the US Nationals next week, I just want to say ‘Good Luck Duane’ and look forward to catching up the next time we meet again!

Jim Forster

Lizzie Rhea: The 2014 Jim Boyette Southern Regional Tournament

August 7th, 2014

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I had so much fun competing in the Jim Boyette Southern Regional Barefoot Tournament this year. It was on July 26th, at Lake David, in Groveland, Florida.

I was very nervous when we got to the tournament that morning. We got there so early that it was awkward just sitting around and waiting. My brother, Will, had injured his ribs and could not compete, and I did not like the thought of competing without him. Also, none of my instructors from the WBC were there. This was my first time to compete without them. I had so many butterflies in my stomach that I could not even eat!

Once the tournament got started, and I saw a few people that I knew, I felt better. It was fun to visit with everyone at the starting dock. Will, Ryan, Landen, and Mike sat with me and helped a lot. It started to get fun when I saw Teri, Lauren, Betsy and Carol – four ladies that are always so nice to me and really encouraging.

Before I knew it, it was my turn, and the rest of the day flew by me! I got an 8.0 in slalom, an 1800 in tricks (getting my first toe up in a tournament), and landed a 7.1 meter jump. At the end of the day, Betsy told me that I had set two pending national records for Girls 2 in tricks and jump! I could not believe it!

After the tournament, we played in the park until time for the banquet. It was really fun hanging out with Mike’s girlfriend, Aysha. I also enjoyed getting a picture with Mr. Jim Boyette, the oldest man to compete in a barefoot tournament. The banquet was at a Mexican restaurant in town, and it was awesome after not being able to eat all day because of the butterflies in my stomach!

Mr. Mike Holt organizes a great tournament, and I would like to encourage everyone to come participate in the Jim Boyette Southern Regionals next year!

Johnathan Martines: 2014 Eastern Regionals

August 6th, 2014

​For the third consecutive year, the Eastern Regional Barefoot Waterski Championships were held at Prompton Dam State Park just outside of Carbondale, Pennsylvania. Thirty skiers made the trek to the northeastern corner of the state to participate in the annual event. As always, the site had wonderful conditions, and the tournament was home to some great skiing.

​On Friday morning, a number of skiers and officials arrived at the site to set up the jump course and cameras for the event. The jump course was set up in about two hours by Cody and Greg Ebbert, Geoff Hust, Pete Sylvester, and myself. While we were getting the ramp and buoys into position, the officials were setting up and adjusting the jump cameras.

​At noon, the jump event began. Cody Ebbert and I were the first two skiers on the water. We jumped two rounds back to back. Even though I landed the majority of my jumps, I wasn’t very happy with my jumps because they were small, and I know I am capable of jumping much farther than I did.

​After jumping, the Open Pro skiers skied their slalom rounds. My first round of slalom, I skied a great forwards pass. Motivated to get a PB, I decided to really be aggressive on my second pass. Unfortunately, I fell on my second pass and didn’t ski a personal best. The next round, however, I skied out two solid runs and scored a PB of 14.8. That night, everyone helped take the jump course out of the water, and we had a chicken barbecue at the site.

​The next morning, we were greeted with more great water and more skiers. The first skiers on the water were the juniors. It was great to see young Lexi McCauley, who spent a month training at the WBC, smash both her tricks and slalom PB’s. She even set a pending Girls 2 national record of 1780!

​After the juniors skied, I skied my first round of tricks, and it was an absolute disaster. I skied very out of control on my first round and was determined to fix it. So, while taking a break in between rounds, I thought it would be a good idea to do some dryland practice. While doing surface turns in the grass, I turned over a fish hook, forming a slice in the ball of my left foot. Frantically, I asked around for superglue, but there was none to be found. Instead, I quickly applied new skin to the cut and ran to the starting dock. Surprisingly, my tricks passes went extremely well resulting in a PB of 8100 points! After working hard at the WBC for 6 weeks before the tournament, it was amazing to see my work pay off.

​The final event of the day was the slow man competition. For those who may not be familiar with this competition. let me explain. The competition is a bracket format. Skier go head to head as the boat slows down from 30 MPH. The first person to fall loses. The winner of this year’s slow man competition was not a man at all. Lorraine Piskura easily won the competition by skiing at 17 MPH!

​After the slow man competition, everyone helped clean up and went back to where they were staying to clean up for the banquet. That night, the skiers and officials enjoyed food and drinks as awards were presented, closing the tournament. I would like to thank everyone who helped out with and sponsored the tournament. Without you all, the tournament wouldn’t have been possible.

Johnathan Martines