Posts Tagged ‘ariana koehler’

Ariana Koehler: Missing the 2014 Worlds

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

It sure was a bummer not being able to attend the 2014 World Barefoot Championships, but thank goodness for technology! Thanks to video and internet, it was awesome being able to watch everyone’s skiing from my dorm room back in Wisconsin. Just because I wasn’t there this time around doesn’t mean my pride for Team USA dwindled one bit. It was sad not to be on the dock with my sister before she skied since we have gone to every single tournament as an inseparable pair for the past several years, but I was still able to cheer her on from home. My friends who have never even heard of barefoot water skiing acquired such an interest for the sport as we watched the tournament together and I explained the ins and outs of everything that was involved.

Going through each event, explaining the scoring, and introducing them to all of the skiers constituted an eventful week in between all of our classes and studies. It was awesome to see my friends enjoy the sport as much as they did even though it was totally foreign to them.

-Ariana Koehler

Ariana Koehler: Don’t Kick Rocks

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

I have been very fortunate to have never had any serious injuries, even after all the years of waterskiing and barefooting (knock on wood).  I have never broken a bone in my body and have kept myself pretty healthy.  There is only one major setback that I can remember and it kept me out of commission for a few weeks.  It was a silly injury and sometimes I wish I had a better story to tell, but what had happened was I kicked a rock in the water.  I was getting up on the dock and kicked a rock that had zebra muscles on it and it sliced the bottom of my foot right open.  Every barefooter cringes at the news of a foot injury, especially one to the bottom of the foot.  In this sport our feet are a tad important to say the least.  When I looked at my foot and saw the blood I was in tears, but it was not because of the pain.  What I was upset about was that Barefoot Nationals were just a few weeks away and I needed to train.

I was quickly brought to the hospital where they told me I needed stitches.  That was my first time ever being in a hospital as a patient and I hope it was my last.  The stitches certainly didn’t make my life easy, as I had to stay off my feet as much as possible.  For someone who is always active and used to being on her feet, this was not easy for me.  Fortunately, the stitches were taken out just in time for nationals, but the cut was still open.  For barefooters who have ever cut the bottom of their foot, they know that there is nothing that a little superglue and Newskin can’t fix!

I was very fortunate to be able to ski at nationals, even though I may not have gotten in as much training as I had wanted to.  This injury was quite the set back for me, but I am thankful because I know that it could always be worse.  Not being able to ski for just a few weeks, out of all the years I have been skiing, isn’t too bad in my eyes.  I thank God everyday for keeping His arms around me and being there for me not only every time I go out on the water, but everyday of my life.

Ariana Koehler: Only a ‘See You Later’ Not a ‘Goodbye’

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

One thing I absolutely love is traveling!  You get to see new places, experience new things, and meet new people.  However, traveling does come with its downfalls.  When you are always on the go, you can not stay in one place forever.  The difficult thing about this is always having to say goodbye.

I have friends in many places, and that has been such a blessing.  However, sometimes I am only able to see some of them every few months or even every few years.  This definitely isn’t easy, especially since I have been able to develop a lot of good relationships with these friends.

So what keeps me going?  How am I able to still hold onto these friendships?  What I always remember is that every goodbye is simply just a “See ya later.”  I know that I will see everyone again someday, and that when we next see each other we will be able to pick up right where we left off.  This is always a reassuring feeling for me.  In the meantime, I always stay in touch with everyone by phone and over Facebook.

By: Ariana Koehler

Ariana Koehler: The WBC, A Home Away from Home

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

There are places all over the map I have considered to be home over the years.  I grew up in the Chicago area, but spent weekends and summers in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  Now I am living a little further north in Mequon, Wisconsin as I am going to school at CUW.  Moving from place to place is never the easiest thing.  You will never find two places the same, so you need to make the best of every destination.

Another place that has become a home to me is Florida.  Spending weeks at a time down there, it has started to become a part of me.  The people I have met through skiing at the WBC are now family to me.  I love spending time down there, on and off the water.  It is always so hard to leave them at the end of a trip.

Another thing that makes me feel like I am at home down there is attending the local church called The Rock.  I went there for the first time with Keith and Lauren when they invited my sister and I one Sunday.  Now I go every time I am down there and the people there have started to become a part of my family as well.  The church reminds me of the one we grew up in at home in Chicago.  Spending as much time as I do down there, the friends I made, and the church were two big things that make me feel at home.

No matter where you are, you can not let your surrounding change who you are and how you define yourself.  Find a home in every place you go, no matter how small or big the connection.

By: Ariana Koehler

Ariana Koehler: Barefoot Training in the Midwest

Monday, October 28th, 2013
Living in Chicago my whole life, I’m used to the weather we have.  The heat, the cold, rain, sleet, and snow; we get it all.  As great as that may seem to some people, for a barefooter it certainly has its downfalls.  This weather only gives us a limited amount of summer water time.  People always ask how we keep training with this issue.  The answer: ROAD-TRIP!
Anyone from the midwest is familiar with a White Christmas.  However, for the past 8 years, that has changed for our family.  It’s now a tradition for us to drive down to Florida as soon as we are out of classes and spend our Christmas skiing at the World Barefoot Center.  We still celebrate Christmas, just in a different way than we used to.  Our Christmas consists of playing holiday music in the boat while we ski, instead of the several feet of cold snow and a warm fire.
Just because we have short summers up in the Midwest doesn’t mean we stop.  We will start skiing towards the end of April and go to the middle of October.  The months in between, we work around the weather and go to Florida every chance we get.
By: Ariana Koehler

2013 Midwest Barefoot Regionals

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Just a little chilly...

It was a cold, rough, windy Midwest Barefoot Regional tournament on July 26 and 27 at the Blue Moo in Alma Center, Wisconsin.  Judging from the smiles on everyone’s faces, it was perfectly warm.


A calm moment at the Blue Moo

Joe Knapp's 36th year on the water

Tom Tocco and Alex Youngblood


Cody Heller at the Midwest Regionals

Amber Rangel's First Regional Jumping

Photo: Congrats dad on placing 3rd in slalom!

Patrick Blake

Photo: It was a bit cold at day 2 of the Midwest Barefoot Regionals...

Hey, it's July!

Photo: Definitely NOT the Southern Regionals. Only in the Midwest!

"Definitely not the Southern Regionals," says Scott Jones

Kailey and Ariana Koehler, "It's not cold!"

By: Karen Putz

Ariana Koehler: Driving Keith St. Onge

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

I have been very fortunate to grow up on a lake my whole life. The water, boats, and skiing have all ran through my blood for as long as I can remember. Kailey and I were taught how to drive the boat when we were young, and soon enough we learned how to pull each other skiing. We would take turns driving as the other would trick ski, swivel ski, disc, or whatever else just to mess around. The barefooting however, was usually driven by my dad so he was there to coach us as well.

When we are not on Lake Como being coached by our dad, Kailey and I train at the World Barefoot Center and there is one day I remember quite clearly. On a normal day of skiing on Lake Conine, Keith took out my sister and I for an afternoon set. After the two of us were done skiing, Keith decided that he too wanted to go for a run. I didn’t think much of it, assuming that we were going to go grab someone back at the house to drive. Then when he looked at me and gave me his speed, my heart dropped. This was about to be my first time pulling a barefooter and it wasn’t just any barefooter… this was Keith St.Onge, the world’s best barefooter! Sitting there for a second, I realized that he wasn’t kidding around at all, so I hopped in the drivers seat and asked for some advise. We took one quick pass for me to practice first, then he said, “That will do” and jumped in the water. As he got out of the boat, Kailey leaned over and shouted, “Nice knowing ya!” I rolled my eyes and listened to his reply as he said, “Nice knowing me? I can always let go of the rope if something goes wrong, you’re in the boat and can’t do anything if she runs into shore.” Hearing this conversation was not necessarily a confidence booster as I was already incredibly nervous. This didn’t stop me though as I continued to pull the line tight and wait for Keith to get ready. Then I drove for a few passes, watching him do slalom in the mirror. I didn’t do too bad of a job, however, no matter how bad you mess up, it’s almost impossible to make Keith look bad. He said the first pass was a little hot, but the rest were just fine. Thank goodness he approved!

Looking back at the first time I drove for a barefooter, I always smile. I was so nervous, but have changed so much since then. Now, Kailey and I regularly pull each other barefooting and driver for people as we teach lessons. I also work at a marina now, where I drive all sorts of boats every day and often have to teach people how to drive boats. From that first pull I learned a lot, but it was just the start of something that I don’t even have to think twice about anymore.

~Ariana Koehler


The Barefooting Sisters

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Anyone who knows my sister Kailey and I knows that we are always together and basically inseparable.  The two of us have become commonly known as “The Koehler Girls”, and are often consider to be more of one item than two separate people.  On some occasions people will even mistake us for being twins.  For the record though, I may being the shorter one by quite a few inches, but I am in fact the older one by 18 months.

Kailey and I are not only sisters, but best friends, teammates, and competitors.  Being a part of the barefooting sport together means a lot to us.  We practice together, go to tournaments together, and cheer each other on.  Often people will ask if this direct competition with one another causes a sisterly rivalry.  However, this is is not the case.  We are just as supportive to one another no matter what the results of a tournament may be.  Kailey has always been one to follow in my footsteps, but at this point in our skiing careers, it is possible for either one of us to come out on top.  With a competitive nature in me and a passion for the sport, of course I strive to do my best.  If anyone is going to beat me though, I am happy and proud to see it be my own sister.  She has always been there for me, so when it is her turn to be successful I always want to be there for her.  There is no one I would rather have beat me than Kailey.

From day one, Kailey and I have been closer than anyone could imagine and I do not plan on allowing that to change anytime soon.  Having someone there for you no matter what is one of the best feelings in the world.  We push each other, give each other advise or tips, and are always each others number one fans.  The sport of barefooting is a huge part of both of our lives and it is something that has brought us even closer as we face every challenge and success together.

“As two sisters we will always be, two nuts off the family tree.”

By: Ariana Koehler

Karen Putz– My First Barefoot Tournament

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

As I drove up the highway toward Blue Moo lake in Alma Center, Wisconsin last Thursday, I was having second thoughts about the whole barefoot tournament thing.  Earlier in the week, I took a few runs with Dan Tanis over at Cedar Lake, but I couldn’t accomplish a single thing on the water.  Out of five pulls, I got up twice and fell each time I attempted to slalom across the wake.   I hadn’t yet practiced a trick run.  And here I was, driving four hours to compete in my first tournament.  

Twenty five years after tripping over a wake, I got back on the water again at the World Barefoot Center in March of last year.  I think a certain 68-year-old woman came up with the idea of entering tournaments.    “It’ll be fun!” she said.  “Everyone is friendly and they’ll help you and tell you what to do.”

Well, Judy was right about that.  I arrived at the dock on Friday morning and met with Kenny Kaestner, the instructor from Footn Foundations and host of the clinic.   Right away, Kenny made me feel at home on the water and he provided some fantastic instruction.   I was struggling to cheek out, and he taught me to line myself up at the opposite angle of where I wanted to cheek out to.   I spent the  morning slaloming and going through my trick runs.  Kenny bumped my speed up to 39/40 and I discovered that I liked it much better on firmer water.  By the time the morning sets were over, I felt confident that I knew what to do.  We spent the afternoon working on backwards.  I worked on riding backwards on one foot on shoes and then tried a back deep on my feet with no success.  I explained that I could get up easily on shoes, but I was really struggling to get up on my feet.  Kenny ran me through a hip exercise several times in the water, identifying the muscles used to get the hips up.   After that, I  was able to get up three times in a row backwards on my feet.

I somehow totally missed the fact that the tournament started at four that afternoon and I was pretty wiped out at that point.  I put myself last in the line up– hoping that I could recover some energy before it was my turn.  Let’s just say this… nothing will wake you up faster than getting back into a cold wetsuit– and jumping in the cold Wisconsin water late in the evening.  Holy moly…

I told myself that if I could just stand up and manage at least one cross, I would be happy.  I forgot the very trick that Kenny taught me– and found myself stuck inside the wake during my first run.  I didn’t have a choice but to stand up inside, and I nearly lost my balance.  I managed to make it outside the wake and then cut right across the wake.  To my complete surprise, I found myself still standing on the other side– and cut back across.  I managed two more crossings and I was really whooping inside when the boat came around.   I ended up with six on the second pass and with a score of 2.8.  That was later bumped up to 3.3. 

Kenny is a guy who does it all.  Not only did he run the tournament, but earlier in the year, he took his bow and arrow, shot Bambi– and served venison for dinner.  “I don’t care much for venison,” said Janell Heller, the owner of Blue Moo Lake.  “But when Kenny marinates and cooks it– it is wonderful.”  I took her advice, tried the venison and agreed with her, it was really delicious.

Blue Moo Lake is set at the edge of a corn field in the middle of a very rural part of Wisconsin.  When I first met Blake Heller, he reminded me so much of my dad– the same round face, the farmer’s heart and the beer in one hand.   I asked Blake how the lake came about and he explained that it took just three guys to dig out the lake.  They started in November and finished in spring the following year.  This was my first time skiing on a lake made specifically for barefooting and wow, one could easily become spoiled by the amazing water that happens on each run.

I put myself last in the line up again the next day for tricks.  I was a little nervous about doing a flyer, as I had done one only once before down at the WBC.  Paul Stokes had just returned from his run and he gave me some reminders as the rope began to tighten up.  The flyer went perfectly and I managed to get the wave, wave, sit down stand up in.  As soon as I shifted to one foot, bam– I faceplanted.  I had planned two tumble turns on the second pass.  Halfway through the first tumble, I felt as if the handle was going to get away from me so I pulled out of it– stood up for the second tumble– got halfway around and lost the handle.  So much for that run!  But I was happy with the 140– it was a lot better than a zero.

The best part was getting to watch the other gals barefoot.  It was amazing to watch Ariana and Kailey Koehler do their trick runs and absolutely jaw-dropping to watch Elaine Heller and Liz O’Flaherty sail over the jump.  The whole tournament experience was a positive one.  The barefooting community is definitely a warm, welcoming one.  Whatever apprehensions that I had when I arrived– were totally gone by the first hour.   I’m really looking forward to the next tournament!

barefoot scores blue moo

By Karen Putz

Barefoot Water Skiing Crashes and Faceplants

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

“World Champions are not made overnight.  They have to endure a lot of falls and faceplants to reach success.”

–Coach Swampy Bouchard, World Barefoot Center

Here’s a collection of barefoot crash videos from the World Barefoot Center, featuring some spectacular crashes, falls, tumbles, faceplants and body slams.  You’re guaranteed to cringe:

Barefoot Crashes and Faceplants

Barefooting Crashes

Extreme Barefooting Crashes

Barefooting Crashes and Smashes

The Best Barefoot Crashes

Slips and Trips at WBC

Massive Falls at the WBC Invitational Tournament

Wicked Barefoot Falls