Posts Tagged ‘barefoot tournaments’

Jim Forster: The Challenge of Competing

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

As we start June, we find the 2014 Barefoot Tournament season underway. With the PGA Season Opener held on May 3 in Palm Beach Gardens, the season has begun. I also realize that the weather in most other regions of the U.S. has been pretty lousy this Spring, but we were lucky enough to have had a warm Winter this year in South Florida.

I often wonder why isn’t there more participation in barefoot tournaments? As a competitive barefooter, I can tell you that it takes time and commitment to ski in tournaments.  I would say that one of the biggest challenges facing most competitive barefoot skiers is, Time. But the commitment is very rewarding as not only do you improve your skiing, but as I have said before, you will meet skiers from other regions and countries and we all share the same passion for the sport.

I love to encourage the development of younger skiers coming up through the sport.  I realize that barefooting is technically, a hard sport to master, but to me, that’s the real challenge. Be willing to make the effort to improving your skiing. Trust me, I have been skiing a long time and it is WORTH IT! Barefooting may not appear to be as flashy and as hip as say, wakeboarding ( shoot me now ), but to me a barefooter is a more well-rounded skier. Be that one person who has the determination and grit to succeed…….barefooting is fun! What other sport allows you to glide over the water and perform toe holds…surface turns…..cross the wake backwards ( you can’t do that in 3 event! ) and jump, all on your bare feet? I’d bet you’d be the only kid in your class that can claim to be able to ski without a board or skis… cool is that??!!

So, I’m appealing to young and older skiers alike, make that effort to join a tournament, you’d be surprised how well you’ll do. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised how supportive other skiers will be….we are a tight knit group, but you have to be willing to let us help you. Hope to see you at a tournament soon!

Jim Forster

Lauren St. Onge: Barefoot Water Ski Competition

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

After the Worlds Championships in Mulwala, Australia Keith and I travel around Australia teaching barefoot clinics.  I have the pleasure of meeting numerous people and skiing with them at their home ski sites.  It was a wonderful experience!  Through my conversations with many of the new barefooters I have discovered a common negative thoughts towards competitions and uneasy feelings.

I am writing this to clarify a few things, not only for the Aussies but for everyone around the world who enjoys the sport.  PLEASE don’t be intimidated by the title. To be honest barefoot tournaments (for the majority) are an opportunity to be scored by judges and to better your own skiing, compared to where you started or your previous score.  If you can do a barefoot start and ski behind the boat, that is 50 points!  Lifting one hand off the handle to wave at the judges is 10 points.  Sitting down and standing back up is 20 points.  Are you getting it?  Many of you are more than qualified to ski a competition and I encourage you to do so.

Did you know for slalom you are allowed do two forwards passes?  I overheard a new skier claim he wasn’t good enough because he wasn’t consistent on his back deeps therefore he couldn’t enter slalom.  GO FORWARD 2x!  Work your way up to a forward and backwards pass.

Most of the videos posted on YouTube are of high-level skiers, this is by no means what you should compare yourself to when starting to ski.

Test it out!  Enter, ski, learn, and have fun.  Keith St. Onge preaches that the more tournaments you ski the better off you will be.  Each competition will give you more knowledge of what to expect the next time and you will excel, I promise!

The judges are helpful and friendly (well most of them, hehe) Let them and others know it is your first time, I am sure they will be more than happy to help you any way they can.  Our sport is diminishing and the fear of comps are not helping.  Get your bum out there and have some fun!
Lauren St. Onge

Instant Scoring for Barefoot Water Ski Tournaments

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

This year at the New Zealand tournaments we tried out an instant scoringsystem, and what a difference it made the tournaments. Coming from a skier’s point of view, the worst thing about tournaments is waiting around for hours for your score from your 30-second pass to be posted. I understand that it is quite the process for the judges and does take a lot of time however any way to make the scores come out faster is great.

My Uncle, Rob Groen who is also the President of the New Zealand Barefoot Waterski Club is always trying to progress the sport and make it better. In result of this he sorted out a very easy to use instant scoring system that can be viewed anywhere via the Internet. This is not only beneficial for the skiers but it also allows spectators to have a clue on what is going on.

How it works…

Firstly there are 2-3 judges in the boat that will judge the skier and at the end of each run they will also score the pass, if there is any confusion the videographer has the pass ready for the judges to watch again. Once the score is agreed on they then radio back to land where someone is on a computer. The person on the computer then just types the score into the spreadsheet looking page and within 10 seconds the score will appear on the big TV screen and any other device that is connected to the internet and on the website, whether they be all the way in France, America, Australia… Anyone can see it.

As a skier this was great because by the time I had finished my run and walked up to the TV screen my score was there ready for me to read. Also as a spectator it was good as well because even if you weren’t able to watch the skiers you could still see how they were doing.

I think that this was a huge step for barefoot waterskiing as a sport. I hope that this is only the beginning and that we can continue to try and progress the sport, the use of technology is a great way to start and I look forward for what is to come in the future.

By: Georgia Groen

Thinking About Entering Your First Barefoot Tournament?

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

You’re thinking about it. You’re tempted. You’re curious.

You’d like to try a barefoot tournament but you have no idea where to start or what to do.

Here’s a book to help you get started:

Barefoot Water Skiing, From Weekend Warrior to Competitor

From Juan Carlos Cardoso Riveroll:

This book gave us the additional push we needed to participate in the 2012 Worlds. We had always been weekend warriors and weren’t at all confident to participate in such a big event!.. After reading through beautifully written experiences illustrated in this book we went for it and had a fantastic time competing, networking and becoming part of the international barefooting family.

In a nutshell the book will illustrate the rules & dynamics needed to participate competitively, it will give you clarity on what it takes (and what it doesn’t). It’s a must read for all skiers that want to take the next step in their footing career (or even if they want to keep it a simple hobby). You’ll be surprised on how accessible tournaments are for any ski level and how supportive the community is.

After the worlds I can say that our skiing level, our focus and our understanding of the sport are at a whole different level. This book gave us the insight we needed. We went for it and thanks to it had the experience of skiing with the best. Karen is a fantastic writer, I have reached out to her via Facebook and had all my questions answered – furthermore she put us in contact with all the right people to keep us on track moving ahead! thank you for such a great book.

The book is available at the World Barefoot Center Pro Shop along with Keith St. Onge’s book, Gliding Soles:

World Barefoot Center Books

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

Getting started with Barefoot Competitions

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

How do I start competing in Barefoot Water Skiing tournaments?

To start competing in Bare foot Water-Skiing tournaments is simple enough. All you have to do is sign up to the AWSA (American Water-ski Association), find where the nearest barefooting competition is near you this summer, and fill out an application online at and you are good to go!!

How do I sign up?

To sign up and join the AWSA (American Water-ski Association) is simple enough, simply go to and select the online sign-up option, then follow the instructions and you’re there!

Where are the Barefoot Water Skiing tournaments?

Barefoot waterskiing tournaments are all over America, and can be broken down and located in 5 “Regions”: The Midwest, The West, The East, The South Central, and The South. Each of these regions hold their own regional tournaments, as well as smaller tournaments within each of their regions. For more information on up and coming tournaments near you, visit the (AWSA) American Barefoot Water-ski Club website, or click on the link below.

What is a trick run?

A trick run is a combination of two passes, where the objective is to do as many tricks as you can in 15 seconds. Each trick is given a certain amount of points, with more points being awarded for more difficult tricks. You also are given points on the start method you do at the start of each pass, with more points being given for a harder start. Click on the link below to see the 2011 Rule book, with scores for each trick on the last pages

Or, to view some world record trick runs from the last few years by World Champions Keith St. Onge and David Small, check out the link below.

How does the slalom event work?

The slalom event works the same as the trick event, where you have two passes each with 15 seconds. This time however, instead of doing as many tricks as you can you must cross the wake, back and forth (Similar to slalom skiing on a ski), as many times as you can on 1 foot in 15 seconds. You have one pass to ski forwards, and one pass to ski backwards. If your foot lifted touches the water, you are only given a 0.5 point value for that crossing.

How good do I have to be to Barefoot Water ski?

If you can stand on two feet, and have fun doing it, then you’re good enough! Anyone can Barefoot Water-ski and you don’t have to be a particular age to learn either-WBC Staff member and skier Judy Myers is 68 years young and still going strong to this day!!

Where can I find a bare foot suit?

These days, barefoot waterskiing wet suits are generally quite easy to come by, there are a lot of stores online you can order from, including Lake Elmo Sports, who has been a strong and reliable dealer for all things skiing for years now! Check them out at online for a wet-suit today at or take a look our range of equipment on our online pro shop today at for the World ‘s best barefoot wetsuits – worn and skied in by the World Champions from the last 10 years!!