Posts Tagged ‘Florida Ski School’

2012 World Barefoot Water Ski Championships

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

This years World Championships was held 2 weeks after the US Barefoot National championships at the same site provided by Stuart Parsons at the Barefoot Ski Ranch in Waco, Texas.  A big thanks goes out to Stuart for putting both of these events on.  We all know that its a big job so we salute you :)

Areal view of BSR

If any of you reading this has ever been to BSR then you will know that it is probably one of the best water ski set ups in the World and it is very rare for the site to get blown out…. Throughout the week of Worlds we had the pleasure of a huge storm come around Florida and make its way towards Texas.  Fortunately it didn’t get quite over to us however it did bring wind to the site and there were a few occasions where both of the ski sites had white caps.  This made it interesting to say the least.

Opening ceremonies

The opening ceremonies were at BSRs new cable park and it was great to see so many different countries there especially Mexico and China which are new at the World Championships.  We were also shown a true texan show and got to see a shoot off……. interesting to say the least

2012 Medalists

Right after the opening ceremonies Worlds got under way. There were a lot of good skiing and having the live feed on the World Barefoot Centers website made it possible for fans, families and groupies (haha) to watch the skiing take place, real time.  All we need now is instant scoring ….. 😉

Team WBC

Here are the results for the Overall.

Men

1. David Small

2. Keith St Onge

3. Peter O’Neill

Women

1. Ashley Stebbeings

2. Elaine Heller

3. Georgie Groen

Junior boys

1. Keenan Derry

2. Ben Franks

3. Ryan Jameson

Junior girls

1. Georgia Groen

2. Kailey Koehler

3. Courtney McDonald

Senior men

1. Kenny Derry

2. Dan Baumgartner

3. Peter Fleck

Senior women

1. Gizella Halasz

2. Steffi Kirsch

3. Teri Jones

For more results go to www.barefoot.org

On the Friday night Stuart put on another night Jump Jam but this year there was no beat your PB event.  With it being held along side a Worlds event meant that we had all of the top jumpers from around the world which made for a very exciting event!!!  There were a lot of spectators there for this event which made it even more exciting for the skiers.  The results were…

Elimination round of jump jam

Men

1. David Small

2. Keith St Onge

3. Ben Groen

Women

1. Ashley Stebbeings

2. Elaine Heller

3. Georgia Groen

The closing banquet and prize giving was great to see as a huge hall was packed full of all the World wide skiers and spectators that had flown in from around the World to compete and to support the World Championships.

closing ceremonies

Well done to all of the competitors and a big thank you to the sponsors of the Worlds…  World Barefoot Center, Parsons Roofing, Sanger Boats, US Gear, BSR, Lake Elmo Sports

Written by David Small aka Small’z

Finding your Passion

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

This world and our lives are all about people!!  Helping others, serving others and always believing you can do it.  I look up to many top athletes and I know many people that look up to me.  Meeting people and seeing their achievements only help our own personal growth!

Back in 2009, Judy Myers had a segment on the Today Show and the husband of Karen Putz forwarded the segment to her.  She saw this 66-year-old woman barefoot water skiing.  Karen had not barefoot skied in two decades due to losing her hearing while taking a barefoot water skiing fall.  Her family had a rare gene; if they hit their head hard on something it would cause them to lose their hearing.  Her sister tripped on a throw rug, hit her head on the floor and lost her hearing just like that, and her brother also lost some hearing from barefooting.

Karen contacted Judy Myers, and in no time was down at the World Barefoot Center ski school in Winter Haven, Florida in the spring of 2010.

Judy Myers helped Karen Putz pursue her passion for Barefoot Water Skiing

I got Karen to barefoot water ski again for the first time in twenty years.  After her second visit just two weeks later, Karen asked me, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”  I told her I would like to be a keynote speaker.  She immediately asked me if I would ever be interested in writing a book.  “Funny you ask.” I said.  I began writing a book with my cousin Matt, but we had too many other things going on and the project never took off.  After Karen went home, we continued our discussion about writing a book. “I would be interested in writing your book.” Karen said without hesitation.  We discussed it some more and decided we could do it.

Two and a half years later, we have the book nearly complete.  Just imagine the communication barrier!  My hat is off to Karen on this one.  I had to speak to an interpreter over the phone.  The interpreter would then sign what I was saying to Karen and Karen would type out what I was saying.  Wow, made for some interesting conversations to say the least, haha!

The Book, "Gliding Soles" Lessons from a Life on Water

The book should be released in September on Amazon.com   Here is a great video below on Karen, with a small plug for the book called “Gliding Soles, Lessons from a Life on Water.”  Gliding Soles Barefoot Camp was the name of my first barefoot ski school.

Visit the link below to view the video on Karen Putz & Keith St.Onge:

http://www.kwtx.com/ourtown/home/headlines/Axtell-Deaf-Barefoot-Skier-Overcomes-Adversity-165939516.html

By: Keith St.Onge

www.keithstonge.com

2012 US Nationals from Mike Holts, “Holtzy”, eyes.

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Sunday Evening August 5th, 2012

I arrived in Waco, Texas today about 12 noon. I want to get familiar with the time zone, the site, boat, equipment, and the water so that I’m most prepared to ski the 2012 National Barefoot Championships.

I stopped at the site today; the entry gate to the facility was locked. Did that stop me? I DON’T THINK SO. So I quickly developed Plan B to figured a way in; I parked the car, squeezed past the gate and walked about ½ mile and found ‘life,’ Heath Cooper my buddy who installed the 409 PCM motor in my boat two years ago, I love this guy.

Mike Holt from tumble up flyer

Heath gave me a tour of the facility, there is a water-ski cable par, multiple water ski lakes, and some special breed animals; it’s an amazing venue –  HYPERLINK “http://www.barefootskiranch.com/” \o “http://www.barefootskiranch.com/” http://www.barefootskiranch.com/.

The facility has two ski lakes; Lake 1 is long and wide; the good part is that the length gives the skier lots of set up time, but bad part is that when the wind pick up, the lake can get choppy. Lake 2 is shorter and narrow; the bad news is that the short length requires a quick ‘set up’ which places pressure on the skiers to rush. Short set up can cause a skier to loose concentration, often without positive results. The good news is that the water should be less choppy in Lake 2.

After the tour, I see my former ski partner David Small, the current three-time World Champion. We hang out for an hour or so; it was very enjoyable and we plan to ski in the morning. This is why I arrived early; find someone to give me some pulls behind the boat on the water I’ll be competing, but to have the current World Champion be my driver/coach was beyond what I was praying for. David and I planned on dinner later tonight and maybe some ‘night barefooting.’

David Small jumping

I get to my room, the air is cool, and I’m excited to just chill out for the evening. THEN I realize that I’m to meet David for dinner at 8 pm and ‘night barefooting.’ I’m thinking … I don’t think those are good ideas now that I’m in my room.

Problem solved, I text David and blow him off; I’m at peace with my decision because I want to be ready for some serious practice in the morning. A few hours later I get a call from another ski buddy and he wants me to go to the site to do some skiing, but again I’m comfortable just relaxing tonight, so I blow him off.

Monday August 6th, 2012

I stopped by the site today to ski with David Small, I have a knot in my stomach and I’m stressed out; my big concerns in skiing at a different venue behind a different boat include:

How is the ‘table’ behind the boat?

What is the top speed can I expect?

How fast does the boat get me ‘out of the hole’?

Overall how do I feel?

What does the water feel like?

The answers were all very positive.

The wake is ‘no worries’.

I need 46.5 mph in slalom and the boat is fine.

The pull out of the ‘hole’ was soft and I need to adjust my call.

The water is interesting, the temperature is hotter and the water feels ‘soft.’ Not sure what to do, maybe I should ‘up’ my speed.

It was just David and I and felt like old times, I feel better now after practice, handle at the end of all runs.

Tuesday August 7th, 2012

Stopped by the site today and skied with Keith St Onge (KSO) who is a two-time World Champion and No. 1 rated skier in the world with his wife Lauren St Onge (she’s so sweet). I’m not relaxed because it’s hard to ski with a World Champion and be relaxed, but I do feel better knowing the venue, what to expect from the boat, and the water.

WHAT do you mean we are not skiing today behind the boat I skied behind yesterday! Great, skiing with KSO and now I have to start all over again ‘testing.’ KSO skies amazing (I feel so small). I’m very pleased with this boat, except the boat doesn’t get 46.5 mph; it’s a max of 45… not good. The water feels soft and I’m confused, do I call for more speed than normal, or stick with my standard call… big question.

I’m judging for the first time at these Nationals, so I spend 4 hours reviewing videos of skiers so that I can be prepared for the next day assignments.

Wednesday July 8th 2012

I wake up early to do more video review, have a great breakfast and go to the site to ‘hang’ with my barefooting ‘tribe members; We ‘get it,’ we understand the years of commitment to excellence, the sacrifices required, overcoming injuries, pain, disappointments along the way, we all want to do out best, but sometimes we show our worst. Competitive barefooting can be a terrible ‘head game….’

A few hours pass and I’m in boat to judge; I’m satisfied with my performance, I’m prepared. After an hour break I go into the next ‘boat crew’ to judge Open Pro Men in Tricks. My first day at Nationals I’m judging the best skiers in the planet that do so many complicated tricks in such a short time? I visit with an official and explain that this is my first time judging at National; did they ‘really’ want me in the boat? They said you’ll be okay “Holtzy”, we have video backup if needed.

I’m in the boat, skiers ski in a ‘seeded’ order where the lowest ranked skier is first and the top rank skier (KSO) is last; this allows me to warm up my skills. All of my preparation in video judging the past two years and judging elite skiers in our Southern Regional tournaments prepared me well. I did a good job in the boat and out of 32 pulls we (not just me) had to do ‘video review’ of 5 runs.

What I learned in judging the best in the world is that out of the 16 skiers there was only a handful that didn’t fall. These skiers are doing the most difficult tricks in the world and one slight mistake is disaster.

This knowledge gives me confidence that if I fall during any of my runs, its okay, it’s just that it wasn’t my day. Failure on any given day or moment doesn’t define who I am. I’m proud of my dedication, focus, commitment to excellent, and to do the best I can.

Thursday Morning, August 10, 2012

This afternoon I ski in Open Pro Men Slalom; I ski with all of the ‘top dogs’. I think my head is screw on straight, we’ll see in a few hours…

Oh yea, the boat to be used for Open Pro Men Slalom IS NOT one of the two boats I ‘tested’ Monday or Tuesday… great, another thing for the head to screw with. What speed do I call? Can I make my back-deep-to-one start on the first pass?

Thursday Afternoon, August 10, 2012

I skied today for the first time in Open Pro Men Slalom and it occurs at the 2012 National Championships. Just a little history, there are three ‘classes’ of competitors, age group, Open, and Open Pro. All skiers automatically qualify to ski in their age group against their peers. The goal of all advance barefooters to one day ski ‘Open.’ When I was younger, 30 years ago, I dreamed of one day skiing Open, but as life took its actions on my life (family/kids) I gave up that dream over 20 years ago.

However, I continued to ski with the best skiers in the world like David Small, Mike Salber, KSO, Rich Powel, Lane Bowers, Mike Seipel, Steve Merritt, Zenon Bilas, and others. After 24 years of skiing, I went Open in 2008; the cool part was that I did it at the National Championships before all the top skiers in the USA; and I won my 5th National Championship in the Men 5 division, and won the Male Barefoot Athlete of the Year.

Last year I ‘toyed’ with the idea that if I trained hard and smart enough, maybe I could qualify to ski in the “elite” division at the 2012 World Championships. To ski “elite” I had to get a qualifying score that matched the top 20th place skier in the WORLD. That score was 15.6. Up to this point, my best slalom run was 15.2 scored at the 2011 Southern Regional Championships at the age of 56 years young! For me to qualify to ski ‘elite slalom’ at the worlds with a score of 15.6 is almost impossible, but set this as my goal last year.

In July 2012, a month ago, I skied 15.8 in slalom as judged by Richard Gray the Chairman of the World Barefoot Council. With this score I not only ski in the ‘Seniors’ division at the 2012 World Championships, I’ll be skiing with David Small, Keith St Onge, Peter Fleck and other elite skiers at the age of 61!

I’m stunned that I slalom 15.8, but the biggest shocker comes the next day; I skied a 16.2 which qualified m3 to ski Open Pro at the 2012 National Barefoot Championships.

So now at the age of 61, I’m at the starting dock… I’ve eaten properly, gotten rest, drank liquids, trained as hard as I could with the best in the world, worked out to get a strong core, had massage therapy and visited chiropractor when needed, keep my focus, I’ve done EVERYTHING I can think of to be totally prepared for this instant.

I’m in the water, my heart is racing, I clean my hands  with soap so that I can grip the handle; especially since I do a ‘back-deep-to one’ for the start. With this start everything has to be perfect, rarely have I ever missed this start in a tournament, but I have missed it before, the last time was at the 2010 World Championships in Germany, let’s not review that story. Why do such a difficult start when it’s not required in Slalom? It’s a long story and one day I’ll explain…

Okay I’m in the water, a boat judge hands me the ‘tournament handle’ and I’m shocked… the handle is like a slick broom stick and I can’t get grip. I try to rub the handle to get some grip, but it’s time to GO.

I give instructions; ‘gear’, then yell ‘okay,’ the boat lunges harder that I expected, the handle slips from my palms to my finger tips… I’m struggling to not ‘loose the handle.’ I plant my ‘one’ foot in the water, wait for speed, with five officials in the boat, I really don’t have the speed I’m accustomed to. I stay as calm, I make the start, I’m on my feet; I’ve passed the first test, I’m up and ready for slalom.

I attempt to regrip the handle from my finger tips to my palms; it’s not working, this handle is crap, I need to get going, with finger tips. I complete the first crossing one foot, then the second crossing, then after the 3rd crossing and I get pull up and take a hard fall (good thing I have a neck brace). I’m bummed out, I only got 3 points on the first pass (I should have gotten 8)…

The pickup boat gets me and takes me to the end of the course to start the second pass. I give my instructions to the boat judges; I’m just skiing forward, so no drama here (unless I fall). I call 46.5 mph (I should have called 47.5, because of soft water is soft), I complete the pass and score 7.8 points (I typically score 8.2).  My score is 10.8 point… I wanted at least 15.0, would be happy with 15.6 and ecstatic with 16.2, but its official 10.8.

I don’t remember much about the rest of the day, I’m numb. What did I do wrong? In reflecting back, it

was my fault; in practice a few days ago they didn’t have the tournament handles so I used ‘my’ handle. I should have force the driver to use the ‘tournament supplied handle’ so that I would know what to expect. If I had done that I would have know about this problem and I could have come up with a solution.

Mike Front Toe

A few skiers told me they had problems with the handle Paul Stokes (Open Pro) told me “Holtzy that’s why I were gloves, you never know the condition of the tournament supplied handle.”

I plan on getting ski gloves for the Worlds, this WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

Friday August 11, 2012

This morning I’m sick from yesterday’s failure Open Pro Slalom; I don’t want to be here anymore, I hate barefoot tournaments, I want to go home, I want to be in the arms of my wife so that she can ‘baby me.’ The reality is that I have to ski tricks in my age division, Men’s 6 (60-64 years). There are 16 skiers in the event; the lowest seed is 250 points, 2nd seed is 1500 points, and I’m top seed at 2740 points.

After an hour and half of waiting, it’s my turn to perform; I know my wife is on the computer waiting to watch me ski. I’m suited up, I wash my hands with my soap three times, and I rub my hands on the handle to make sure I have ‘the grip.’ I’m pacing back and forth like a race horse waiting to get out of the pen on the dock.

It’s not time; I take the handle, wrap it around my back, and get ready to do a flyer off the dock. I get ready to yell ‘okay’ but the rope gets hanged up in a cleat on the dock and all systems must stop.

The rope gets reset, I wrap the rope around my back, I yell, ‘in gear,’ the boat begins to move forward in idle, the rope tightens up, I yell “okay” and the boat takes off. I take seven steps, launch myself off the dock in superman and pray I make my flying-back-tumble-deep-to-one start. This start is worth 800 points, the highest scoring start. I don’t know when the last time anybody other than myself has done this start at a National Championship.

I land on the water on my chest, ride on the stomach at 2300 rpm, then turn to the backward position, plant one foot in the water, wait for boat speed, the driver David Miller nails the throttle, I still wait for ‘speed’ and then I press the foot in the water and attempt to stand up on one foot.

I make it, the driver pulled me perfectly and I did what I needed to do; I’m stoked. I regrip the handle; pull it in and down to my butt and start the trick run – one foot, one foot reverse, surface hop – wait I don’t think the hop was high enough for credit, so I do the surface hop again, then a turn from backward to forward, then tumble-360-to-one, reverse tumble-360-to-one, tumble-180-to-one, then reverse 180-tumble-to-one. I have an almost the perfect pass, except the double surface hop. You can see the video at:  HYPERLINK “https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B2dZybUIi_ohZnl3R21XUFhWeFU/edit?pli=1#docId=0B2dZybUIi_ohRG1hbDJ0dktidDg” https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B2dZybUIi_ohZnl3R21XUFhWeFU/edit?pli=1#docId=0B2dZybUIi_ohRG1hbDJ0dktidDg

I’m happy with the first pass but I’m still stressed; on the second pass I do a back-deep-to-one start, this is the second most difficult start in barefooting and it’s worth 500 points. I give the boat officials my instructions, the boat tightens the rope, I give the signals ‘in gear’, then ‘okay’ and I roll over on to my stomach. The boat takes off, I wait for speed, plant one foot, press the foot into the water, and when I feel I have sufficient speed I attempt to stand up – and I make it!

Now I do a ‘positional back-to-front turn’ to set up for the first trick; I’ve missed the back-to-front turn before at a National Championship and also once at the 2012 World Championships in Germany. I’m up backward, I get into position for the turn, and attempt the back-to-front turn; I nail it, clean feet-to-feet. I place the handle over my head and do – neck-2-foot, neck-1-foot, neck-1-foot reverse, then a one-foot, one-foot reverse, teeth-2-foot, teeth-1-foot, teeth-1-foot reverse, rope-on-foot, rope-on-foot reverse, tumble-2-foot, and reverse tumbel-2-foot. I did everything and it was flawless.

I know my wife loves the ‘butt slide’ so I do a nice butt slide, look at camera, and give her a signal via the internet that ‘these two passes were for you baby.’

You can see the second video run at:  HYPERLINK “https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B2dZybUIi_ohZnl3R21XUFhWeFU/edit?pli=1#docId=0B2dZybUIi_ohNEpWVHVHTGdhWTA” https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B2dZybUIi_ohZnl3R21XUFhWeFU/edit?pli=1#docId=0B2dZybUIi_ohNEpWVHVHTGdhWTA

Immediately after the trick event I call my wife and tell her ‘I love barefoot waterskiing, I love barefoot tournaments, and I’m so glad I’m here!’

The emotions in competitive barefoot skiing at a National Championships can be overwhelming. This week I had some success and some failures, and lessons learned. I didn’t achieve my goal of skiing at least 15.0 in Open Pro so that I could ski in the Open Pro finals, but I know I did the best I could.

National Record – Later I find out my score was 2700 points, the current record for Men 6 is 1310 points. After record review the runs are reduced to 2650 points; I have the current record in Men 5 and now I have the Men 6 trick record. It might be a long time before anybody breaks the Mens 6 trick record.

National Champion – My terrible slalom pass of 10.8 exceeds the 7.28 of the highest Men 6 skier, so I get 1000 points in the Slalom event for overall; my 2700 points in tricks gives me 1000 points in the tricks event. This results in an over all score of 2000 out of 2000 points; I win the 2012 Overall National Men 6 Champion and I think this is my eighth Overall National Championship win.

My season is not done, I have the World Barefoot Championships in two weeks to complete my season; I have my goals set, we’ll review them in a few weeks.

Holtzy

P.S. Joe Malenfant, the President of the American Barefoot Club (ABC) that the record set today was not accurate and that the actual record was base don my performance at the 2012 Regionals tricks event of 2740 points, which was downgraded to 2720 points!

By : Mike Holt

Clinic in California at Diablo Shores with David Small…

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I left the cold weather behind when I left the Twin Cities and landed in to sunny San Francisco where Dave Naddy picked me up.  Jerry Kanawyer sorted the clinic out but as it was his 50th birthday a few days before my arrival he was throwing a party at his house and had to stay behind and organize the band, tents and the other logistical nightmares that go with hosting a party 😉 After leaving the low cloud of the city and driving through the hills we got to Diablo Shores and was greeted with glass clam blue water and not a cloud to be seen…….. perfection!!!!

jerrys bday hat

Shot of the lake on my arrival :)

Jerry and Adin Danneker were skiing all week and are both training for the up coming World Championships in Waco Texas this Summer so it was a pleasure to work with them and get them more competition ready.  Both Jerrys and Adins slalom came on leaps and bounds as well as Adins turns getting a lot better and Jerry figuring out his line step position as well as dabbling with his surface turns.

Jerry and Adin suiting up

Adin showing his jumping skills

Mark Hobson was down most of the week with his 13 year old niece, Mackenzie, who only started bare footing on my last visit last Summer.  She is now getting up long line on her feet, doing sit down and stand ups, starting in to tumble turns, working on her ones foots and starting in to backwards!!! Very proud of you Mac!! Last year Mark couldn’t get up longline backwards or do one foots forwards.  He is now rocking long line back wakes out, back one foots behind the boat, can hall ass on front wakes and can ride toe holds.  If anyone wants to see a guy enthusiastic about bare footing then this is your man…. pleasure to be around and to ski with and I’m looking forward to coming back after Nationals and skiing with him again and possibly seeing his new baby girl if she has arrived by the start of Aug 😉

Mark Hobson showing us how to wake slalom

13 year old Mac ..... its the only pic i had Mac, sorry.... She was getting up long line on her feet but i didn't get a shot

Andy Conway, who is gentile giant was looking good on his backward one foot wake crossings as well as getting a lot more consistent with his front slalom.

At the start dock at the Diablo Shores open tournament

Jenna Gernstein who is 15 years old and trying to qualify to ski in the Junior World Championships also came for a few days.  She lives in San Diago and skies with Art. She has been skiing since she was 3 years old and is very stable out on the water…. and if she practiced her reverses more than once a year would be a very well rounded skier 😉 lol.

Jenna showing off for the camera

After the week clinic Jerry had a tournament at his lake where he had a good turn out as well as putting on a driver and safety clinic after the skiing was done.  There were some good scores posted.  It wasn’t a RC tournament but I skied 13250 in tricks and 19.2 in slalom which I was happy with.

As much as i tried to skydiving while i was there we were starting early in the morning and then by the time we were done the winds always picked up (water was still glass) and the place thats close to Jerrys is notorious for accidents…… I have Swampy in my head telling me he will kill me if i injure myself jumping out of a perfectly good plane so i decided to wait until i return in a month or so :0

charlie not giving up his stick

Written by : David Small

AKA  Small’z

Cody Ebbert & Claudia Landon Join team WBC!

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Cody

We are glad to announce that we have two new additions to Team WBC!

Cody Jumping on the 10 foot

Firstly, Cody Ebbert who is currently 18 years old and resides in Utioa, Pennsylvania. His current scores are tricks; 6,350, slalom; 10.8 and jump; 19.3 meters. He is the current Junior Boys World Trick Champion, Bronze in the 2010 World Junior Boys Jump and a member of the 2010 Gold Medal Junior US Team. Some of his other achievements include being the 3 times East Regional Champion (2008 2009 2010). Cody has been training here for the past 2 years and has now joined our sponsored skier program.

Claudia going backwards

Claudia

The second new addition to the team is Claudia Landon. Claudia is 58 years old from Post Falls, Idaho. Her current scores are tricks; 640 and slalom; 3.9. Claudia is a competitive Women’s 5 skier winning the US National Overall Title 3 times (2008, 2007, 2006). Her other accomplishments include 2005 US Nationals Women’s 4 runner-up in tricks and slalom, 2004 US National Women’s 4 Overall Winner and 2003 and 2002 US Nationals Women’s 4 silver in slalom and bronze in Tricks. We are very excited to see yet another of our Mature Women joining the WBC ranks!

Welcome to the team Cody & Claudia!!

By Ashleigh Stebbeings, Australia

Featured Footer: A.J. Porreca

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

When Anthony “A.J.” Porreca was nine-years-old, he stepped off a ski behind the boat and took off barefooting– on his first try.   It took six or seven attempts after that to develop some consistency with his kick-offs, but A.J. fell in love with the sport.   A.J. took a clinic with Keith St. Onge and learned to barefoot backwards.  By the time he was thirteen, he was entering competitions in the Midwest as well as show skiing with the Minneiska Ski team in Whitewater, Wisconsin.

“After I skied in my first tournament, I wanted to leave show skiing and take barefooting seriously from that point on,” said A.J.   During spring break his freshman year in high school, A.J. went to Florida for a week of training with Keith and soon became a sponsored athlete.   “I really wanted to ski with Keith, so I went back down during spring break when I was fifteen.  That’s when I started taking the barefooting like a job, and pushing it.”

Today, A.J. is nineteen and he works and trains at the World Barefoot Center.  “It’s a great experience working with Keith, not only to watch him train everyone else, but to also get input from him.  I’m there all the time– it’s a lifestyle.  I see the world champ– how he lives on and off the water—and it’s good to be around him– to get to see him more than a skier.”

A.J. works closely with Swampy Bouchard, who has trained and coached him for the last four years.   Swampy taught him to set goals and to work hard toward them– but at the same time, to be happy and productive on the water.  “I appreciate everything Swampy does for me, he has stuck with me through the ups and downs,” said A.J.  “He pours just as much passion into my skiing as I have.   Swampy is really committed to the skiers–  he’s not just going through the motions– he cares about skiing, both the sport and the skiers.  He’s been with me every step of the way, both on and off the water. I don’t know what I would do without him– I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”

A.J. is famous for his “Porecca Special,” a backward barefoot start where he takes another skier for a ride on the handle.  During Women’s Barefoot Week at the World Barefoot Center, A.J. graciously gave each gal a ride on his back. When 67-year-old Judy Myers experienced the “Porreca Special”, they walked away with a memorable video:

A.J. is a student at the Florida Southern College in Lakeland, about thirty minutes from the ski school.  Every weekend, he heads out to the WBC to train and occasionally instruct students.  He’s aiming to break 10,000 in tricks and to conquer his most challenging trick, the feet-to-feet toe front.  When he’s not on the water, he works in the pro shop or writes articles for the website.   He’s aiming to swipe the World Champion title (he’s currently ranked 5th in the world) and add that to his name someday.   Meanwhile, he’s learning all he can from the two World Champions and having fun while he’s at it.

“The biggest lesson that barefooting has taught me about life is this:  To make things happen, you have to set up a plan, commit to it and work for it.  Nothing will drop in your lap– you have to choose what you want to achieve, put all of yourself into it– and go out and make it happen.”

Update: A.J. broke the 10,000 point goal– becoming the fifth person in history to trick over 10,000. He recently tricked over 12,000 points, joining Keith St. Onge and David Small as the only three to trick over 12,000.

WBC SKIER PROFILE : AJ PORRECA from WorldBarefootCenter on Vimeo.

Written by: Karen Putz

Barefoot Wet Suit Worn by the “BEST”

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

KSO Wetsuits is the newest barefoot wetsuits worn by World Champions, Keith St Onge and Dave Small.   They both understand the importance of top-quality wetsuits that provide padding  for flotation and protection.  Their youngest to oldest students– from beginners to professionals– at the World Barefoot Center depend on a quality suit, and KSO Wetsuits delivers quality and protection on the water.  

The new 2011 “KSO Wet Suit” proves to fit like a glove, with it’s new, tapered waist line and wrap around padding over the shoulders and around the ribs.  There are many graphic and color options to choose from, with a unique style for everyone!

Visit the World Barefoot Center online pro shop or  www.KSOWetsuits.com to learn more and buy yours today.

HOW TO BEGIN BAREFOOT WATER SKIING

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

So you are at your lake or river and you see these water-skiers zipping by– but they have no skis  – they are skiing on their bare feet.  Now that has your interest as something you just have to try, but how do you get started, what does it involve, just where are you ever going to get this information?

If you are like many of us, you hook up with these skiers and they say they will teach you how to barefoot ski.  Sounds good and easy, but this is the wrong way to get started. Do your homework and start checking the Internet for information about barefoot water skiing.  Websites such as Barefoot.Org or Worldbarefootcenter.com contain a wealth of information regarding this sport.

 The first thing you should do is make reservations and go to a ski school that specializes in teaching barefoot water skiing such as the World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, FL.  If you are going to learn this new sport you should learn it properly and safely.  By doing this you will save yourself from the brutal falls that one can take when they do not learn by using the proper methods and equipment. 

The WBC owned and operated by the current World Champions Keith St. Onge and David Small, uses the newest methods and equipment, such as shoe skis, KSO Wetsuits and Barefoot International booms and Towers, to get you started and take you to the next level.  You will learn the proper techniques in a proper progression and eliminate the painful falls that usually occur when “friends” teach you.

You will also need to purchase specialized equipment such as a padded bare foot suit, padded shorts and perhaps a neopream heater shirt to be worn under your barefoot suit in cooler weather.  Again, do your research to find the best and latest equipment.  It is imperative that your barefoot suit fit well, have adequate padding and is constructed well.  All suits are not created equal, so again, have a professional help you with this purchase to make sure you are getting the best suit available. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek help.  The World Barefoot Center has a complete Pro shop on site as well as on line and can help you with this purchase. 

Don’t be afraid to seek out help and answers to your questions and concerns.  The World Barefoot Center is here to answers any questions you may have at (863) 877-0039.  The bare footing community loves to help others in the sport no matter what level your skiing is at so feel free to give other footers a call!!

By: Judy Myers