Posts Tagged ‘back toe hold’

Lizzie Rhea: Thanksgiving, Barefooting, Toe-holds, and Earrings

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

This Thanksgiving, I made a list of 105 things that I am thankful for in my life. God’s love for me, Jesus, family, friends, barefooting, and finally getting my ears pierced were all at the top of my list.

Let me tell you how barefooting helped me get my ears pierced! I had been begging my parents to let me pierce my ears for years, but they said I had to wait until I was 12. This past summer, however, my Daddy decided to use it as motivation to learn back toe-holds.

I had never tried back toe-holds and did not even want to try them. One day, my Daddy said, “If you get both back toe-holds on the boom, you can get your ears pierced.” He thought it would take me a long time, so he wasn’t worried about promising me something so big. Anyway, I jumped at the chance!

I was very determined that I was going to do it that same day and I did! I focused very hard and I believed I could do it. That helped me a lot. I fell so many times and it really hurt, but I finally got it on my good foot. My bad foot took much longer because it felt so different and it was harder to balance. I just kept thinking about those earrings though, and I worked even harder to get it.

I wanted those earrings so much that I learned both back toe-holds the same day my Daddy made the deal with me. He really did not want me to get my ears pierced so soon (at 10 years old), but he was so happy, excited, and proud of me that he didn’t care! I was very happy too!

I am thankful for my wonderful Daddy, barefooting, and my ears being pierced now! I even have some little silver footprint earrings! It was a fun experience, and a good lesson that you have to work hard for something you want.

By: Lizzie Rhea

Barefooting Accomplishments Never Come without Struggle

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
The amazing accomplishments of any barefooter never come without struggle.  This accomplishment could be a new trick, a new medal, or a new Personal Best (PB).  Along the way to that goal, there will be failure.  And failure means falling, pain, and just plain painful falls.  No one in the sport can progress without taking a fall here or there.
I have taken plenty of brutal falls just like every other individual in the sport.  I’ve had marks to prove these falls and I still have scars to this day.  These scars have come from trying to succeed and trying to learn new tricks.  The best example was when I was trying to learn Back Toe-Holds.  I started out on barefoot shoe skis trying to learn the trick.  Time after time again, I fell and fell and fell–with my head getting whipped into the water.  I kept losing my balance, straightening my leg too much, or just spazzing out while trying to get my foot to the strap.

Eventually when I got it on shoe skis, I moved on to my bare feet.  I thought I knew the trick by now, but boy was I wrong.  There I was again, taking fall after fall after fall, waking up with the sore neck and headache.  To top that off, I started to get wounds on the top of my feet from falling.  Whenever I fell, the strap would rip off the top of my foot.  My feet started to bleed and to this day I have scars from those falls still.  Even worse than that, I popped blood vessels in my eyes from getting whipped back on the falls so many times.  I ended up with red eyes for the next month and a half.

Even after all of that, I managed to master the trick.  I have no idea how many falls I took trying to learn that trick, but they were definitely the most painful.  All those falls of course meant failure, yet that was the only way to learn how to do the trick right.  It’s just like Thomas Edison said about inventing the light bulb: “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.  Every great barefooter has failed doing a trick.  As long as they take something from these failures, they will become a great skiier.  As long as they learn from their mistakes, they can become even better.  Giving up is when true failure shows.  There is no greater failure than giving up.
No matter how painful the falls are, no matter what marks they leave, it’s best to get back up and try to understand what went wrong.  Of course when I look at those scars on my feet, I think, “Dang, those falls were not fun”.  Then I think again about how they show what I got through, the struggles I went through.  I know I can get through any obstacle now.  I know there will be even worse struggles to get past, and it may take time.
This is the same with every skier.  It all just depends on their mind frame.  Just keep getting back up, even if you’re discouraged, learn from the falls, and of course, Toes Up!
Collin Scott Barber

Featured Footer: Chris McWatters

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

When Chris McWatters is not at his job as a nurse in a local Florida hospital, you can find him on the water over at the World Barefoot Center, learning something new.  And when the day is done, he heads back home, to the home of a legend.   The McWatters are staying at Banana George’s house, renting it for a few months.  Chris is the quintessential snowbird– the other half of the year he works as a nurse in a hospital near Detroit, Michigan.

Chris’ first dip into the life of water sports began with a slalom ski and a slalom course.  Then he was introduced to barefooting from a friend of a friend.  “I got up on my first try, off the boom,” said Chris. “It was like a poison in my body, I was hooked!”  Chris spent the summer learning to barefoot off a kneeboard and at the end of the season, he completed a deep water start.

In the summer of 2004, a bad fall left him with a twisted ankle, but he continued to learn new tricks on his own, especially tumble turns. “I watched videos of Keith St. Onge and Mike Seipel barefooting and taught myself from the videos,” said Chris.  “I wanted to barefoot like Keith!”  A friend introduced him to backward barefooting and Chris beat himself up on the water trying the start over and over.  He studied continued to study Keith’s videos and tried to put that into practice on the water.    “I never had shoes– thought it was for sissies,” Chris laughed.  “I kept trying.  I could do  a backward start on the boom in 2005 or 2006 can’t remember. But backward long line, I couldn’t do it.”  Chris got in touch with Seipel, who advised him to get a tower and shoes, but Chris stubbornly wanted to learn the start on his feet.  So he grabbed a driver one day and for two and half hours, he worked on it until he finally stood up backwards behind the boat.  He ended up bruised, but triumphant at his accomplishment.

The front and back flyers were also on Chris’ “self-taught” list.  He ended up taking a trip to the hospital after doing a front flyer from a houseboat.  His left ankle tangled in a loop on the landing and the next day, he could barely walk.  Fortunately, there was only some muscle damage and it healed.  To this day, Chris still has the rope indention around his ankle as a reminder of that trick.  But that didn’t deter Chris from continuing to teach himself on his own.  After watching Keith spin around on the water, Chris hurled himself around as well.  “Front to back, back to front– I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread,” said Chris. “I taught myself on my feet, 42 mph, and I would fall and fall.”

Chris’ introduction to barefoot competition came from a chance encounter on the water.  He was out with some friends on a boat rigged with a boom on each side of the boat and five of them footin away.  During a pause, another boat drove by and guy joined them.  They continued to barefoot together, enjoying the day.  “Why don’t you compete,” the guy asked Chris.  “I’m just a backyard barefooter,” he said.

The “guy” turned out to be Marc Donahue, legendary for Figure 8 tournaments.  Chris agreed to give competition a try so he headed up to Wisconsin for the 2009 Frostbite Figure 8.  It was 35 degrees out, the water was 41 degrees and there was a 25 mph wind kicking up. To top it off, Chris had never stepped off a ski before.  He put his foot on the water twice, faceplanted twice, and just like that, his first tournament was over.

But did he give up? Nope.

At the Mad City tournament, Chris ended up with the same result: double faceplants and out.  But he walked away with St. Onge’s blue hat as a raffle prize.  At the St. Louis tournament, Chris advanced a round only because the other guy fell faster than him at the step off.  “I spent so much money going to tournaments only to faceplant and double out each time,” Chris laughed.

But he still didn’t give up.

Chris went up to Crandon, Wisconsin, home of the famed Footstock tournament.  While waiting in line to get a drink at Duck’s bar, his idol turned around to greet him. “Hi, I’m Keith St. Onge.”

Chris couldn’t hear him in the din and despite the countless KSO videos he had reviewed, he didn’t recognize the guy.  “I’m Keith St. Onge,” he said again. He pointed to Chris’ head.”And you’re wearing my hat!”   Chris was thunderstruck, but he soon discovered that the two-time champ was laid back and down to earth.  “He’s just one of us,” said Chris.

Dave Mueller, the Footstock announcer, quickly made mincemeat out of Chris the moment he doubled-out of the tournament.  Chris soon earned a nickname: “Two Step.”  “They made fun of me, ‘two steps’ and I’m out of the tournament–  but one guy from St. Louis gave me some encouragement afterwards and introduced me to barefoot races,” said Chris.

Chris continued to teach himself tricks on the water but still hadn’t had a formal barefoot lesson at that point.  He persisted with Figure 8 tournaments and ended up contributing his time to organizing tournaments. “I set up rules to involve more people,” said Chris.  The idea was a “no barefooter on the beach” motto.   If you can’t step off, you can deep start.  If you need a wheelchair, we’ll start with that.

“You can ski against KSO and Smallz in these tournaments–  that’s the coolest thing,” he continued.  “You can duct tape your feet.  We are friendly, and we include the backyard barefooter.”

Things began to turn for Chris.  He actually learned how to become a Figure 8 barefooter and stay up on the water.  At the WBC Figure 8 final, Chris was helping to wrap things up when Keith asked him if he was interested in learning more and becoming a sponsored skier.  Chris jumped at the chance to ski and learn from his idol. “What I liked about Chris was not just his passion for barefoot waterskiing which is obvious, but I liked his enthusiasm to help build the sport and put tournaments together,” said Keith. “He put in a lot of time that not many people see. I commend him for all the work he has put into the sport and respect him for that.”

In November, 2011, Chris received his first formal lesson on the water with A.J. Porreca and Ben Groen. “Honestly, I was nervous and scared,” said Chris. “I’m a shag barefooter– everything I had learned was from watching videos.” The WBC staff ended up getting a little surprise:  toe holds, tumbles, tumble to ones, backward one foots– the bumbling Figure 8 guy actually had some good skills on the water despite never having a lesson.

He had some jump experience before arriving at the WBC, but only off the boom.  Before long, Small’z had him jumping inverted.

Despite his lack of three-event tournament experience, Chris’ goals are big and bold: to qualify for the Nationals and the Worlds.     “I need to score 2,400 points, but I tricked only 400 or 700 when they timed me.  I did bad and I looked awful,” said Chris.  He was really discouraged when he climbed in the boat.  Ben shared a story about his own early experience at the Worlds; he scored just 200 points and came in dead last out of 38 skiers.  Encouraged, Chris continued to hammer away at the tricks.

“My proudest moment on the water was when I got my first back one foot toe hold in front of David and Swampy,”  said Chris.  “And by the way, I love Swampy to death– he’s like a grandfather. I  make sure Swampy is happy!”  To build up consistency, Smallz ran him up and down the lake, to the tune of 31 back toe holds.

Even with both feet raw and bruised after the tough runs, Chris loves every minute of it. “What I like most about barefooting is that you feel free–there’s nothing on your feet,” said Chris.  “It’s awesome to stand on your feet at 40+ mph–  it’s a moment that is pure as you can get–  standing there, looking around thinking,  ‘Wow, you’re standing on water on two feet!!!'”

Written by: Karen Putz

Footin’ With Waterhawks Show Team Day 4

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Waterhawks day 4

Kat Peterson started us off for the day.  Kat worked on her deepwater starts with her main goal to make them behind the boat. From the 5ft line to the 10ft, next step is the long line!  We hope to see you at Women’s Barefoot Week down in Florida!

Controlling the Ride- Kat Peterson

Three Point Stance- Kat Peterson

Woo Hoooo Nice Job Kat!

Sam Hartmann had his mind set on learning this backdeep.  A couple years ago he had given it a few goes and now he has the barefooting bug!

Alex Starting to come up!

Alex Ready for a Backdeep!

Brother of Sam, Alex Hartmann also came out footing for the day.  Sam’s goal was to learn a deepwater start.  In just one day Sam went from the boom to shortline! Way to go brother!

Barefooting on the Boom - SamShortline!-Sam

Nick Sammerhays worked hard and it paid off!  Nick went from never ever trying barefooting before and he got up on his feet the first day!  An a total bonus Nick got up on the shoe skis on the shortline! Way to go!

BareFEET!- Nick Sammerhays

Jordan Kintzle learned everything FAST!  Jordan surprised us with quickly learning to get up on the shoe skis backwards and then later the same afternoon getting up on his feet! Keep it going Jordan!

Shoe Skiing Backwards- Jordan

Backwards Barefooting!- Jordan

By Keith St. Onge and Lauren Lindeman