Posts Tagged ‘Jim Forster’

Jim Forster: My Travel Destinations

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

As the tournament season winds down, for most of us, our focus turns to work and/or school. We still continue to ski, but as Fall is upon us and Winter approaches, the weather and cooler temperatures reduce the opportunity to ski. I would like to share with you some of my recent travel experiences, since I’m not sure how many of you get the opportunity to travel to other countries. I am very fortunate that my chosen profession affords me to travel all over the world, as I just returned from a 15 day trip to South America and Africa. I left Brownsville, TX. the night of September 16 ( this was a technical stop for fuel and to swap crews, as the trip originated in Oakland, CA. ) and flew to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, a 9 1/2 hour flight, where we spent 2 nights. Then it was off to Windhoek, Namibia on the continent of Africa, a 7 hour flight and the weather over the South Atlantic was absolutely beautiful! Not many aircraft cross that far south, but it was a smooth flight. Namibia used to be called Southwest Africa and gained its independence from South Africa in 1990. It’s a progressive country and fairly modern, having been settled by the Germans and their influence was seen everywhere. My crew and I booked several game safaris and spent the next 6 days exploring the wildlife on some of the largest private game reserves in the world. All the big game animals of Africa were seen and the scenery was spectacular! I actually got within 2 feet of a female cheetah, as they are pretty calm compared to the other big cats.


Th
en it was on to Maun, in the northwest part of Botswana,  a short flight, only 50 minutes. but Botswana was a big change from Namibia. Here we were in the ‘bush’, as this was in the Okavango Delta, a part of Africa that all the animals come to water and feed themselves. It was very hot, about 100 degrees and there are several game parks that are protected from hunting and poaching. We spent 5 days there and took a safari in to the Moremi National Park and really saw the animals in the wild and up close. Elephants, giraffe, lions, hippos, water buffalo, zebras just to name a few. They truly are magnificent animals up close and in their natural habitat, no bars or fences to keep them in, it made me appreciate just how much that they need to be protected. We then took a boat tour through the delta, and it was very much like being in the Everglades. tall grass and water for miles. That’s were I came in close contact with a large group of elephants and at times, was as close as 20 feet! We probably saw about 200 elephants that day, pretty amazing. There were stretches of glass, calm water and all I could think of was how much that I’d love to ski on it. But there’s no skiing there as the water is full of hippos and crocodiles :-(. Oh well, I can still dream about it though.


I really enjoyed my time in Namibia and Botswana, but everything must come to and end and it was off to London, an 11 hour 48 minute flight. Here, we took on an extra pilot as we require 3 pilots for flights over 10 hours. We landed about 10 PM and spent 2 nights there. The weather was noticeably cooler, about 68 degrees and we stayed at the Parklane Hilton, right across the street from Hyde Park. I always enjoy the hustle and bustle of downtown London and my stay was too short. The next morning, we took off and flew the final leg home to Oakland, another long flight of 10 hours 30 minutes. Our route of flight took us far north to 78 degrees Latitude, which is above the center of Greenland, before turning back to the southwest over the Artic Control areas of Canada and into the Pacific Northwest, finally landing in Oakland. What a trip! It was for me, a trip of a lifetime and don’t know when I’ll go back again. So when you’re wondering what to do with your spare time or a vacation, remember, the possibilities are endless, don’t be afraid to go out there and see the World!

Jim Forster

Jim Forster: My Barefooting Friend Duane Godfrey

Friday, 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

Jim Forster: My 2014 Barefoot Worlds Experience

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Peter Fleck, Betsy Gilman, Jim Forster

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to compete in a world class event? My trip to Mulwala, Australia to compete in the 2014 World Barefoot Waterski Championships was a very memorable one. Memorable because of the time spent training, the people that I met along the way and it was my very first time skiing in Australia. As I have written before, one of my goals is to ski in every country that I travel to, so I just added to my list.
This was my third World Barefoot Championships that I competed in, Germany in 2010 being my first, but I came to this tournament with valuable knowledge gained from lessons learned in my previous Worlds experiences. Lessons such as no matter how good the competition, don’t count yourself out. I learned to stay focused and to ski consistently, not to worry how well the other skiers in my division were skiing. Skiing in a tournament brings a lot of risk, you only have one chance, so make it count. I have always said that there are a lot of very good barefooters that don’t compete, but few that are willing to step up and put it all on the line at a tournament. Another valuable lesson learned was to adapt my skiing to the water conditions, have an alternate trick pass for rougher water, know what to attempt and when to pull it back to insure that I advanced to the second round. It all paid off as I made it through the elimination rounds in both Tricks and Wakes and skied in the Semifinals. I missed the Finals by one skier, finishing 6th in both events, my best finish ever at the Worlds.


Of course, this was overshadowed by the comraderie that I shared with all the US Elite, Junior and Senior Team skiers, and a lot of skiers from the other participating countries. It was good to see Team China arrive with 5 skiers, up from just 2 skiers that came to Germany in 2010. Of course, the Aussies and Kiwis were teams that put in strong performances and had to be contended with. Keith and David battled it out in the Elites, Keith setting a new World record in Wakes at 21.1 and even winning Jump! But it wasn’t enough to overcome David’s strong performance to claim his third World Overall title in a row. Great skiing David and Keith! Thanks to the Jordan family for hosting a team dinner at their rental house, no expense was spared and there was great food and fun for the whole US contingent. The entire week was filled with get togethers as we shared stories, both old and new, as we made new friends at the Mulwala Water Ski Club, the main gathering place for the week. What made it special for me though, was my brother Mike and my nephew Matt traveled down from their home in Canberra to watch me ski. He is an American-born Aussie who came to Australia in 1988 to fly F/A-18 s for the Australian Air Force and now is a B737 captain for Qantas. They had never been to a barefoot tournament before and really thought it was cool! I spent the week before the tournament visiting with them and the rest of the family up in Canberra ( I have another nephew and a niece ) and was glad that they cam to support me and meet my friends. Thanks Mike and Matt!


With the next World Championships in 2016 being held in Alma Center, Wisconsin here in the US, I expect a large participation again from US skiers, so mark your calendars and get ready. The US Teams have their work cut out for them to regain their crowns………..you won’t want to miss it!

Jim Forster

Upcoming 2014 Barefoot Worlds

Monday, February 3rd, 2014
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Jim Forster

As we approach the upcoming World Barefoot Waterskiing Championships in Mulwala, Australia, I would like to take time to wish all of the participating skiers the best of luck. There are only 5 weeks left before skiers from many different countries, take to the water in head to head competition that will determine the best team and best overall skiers. As a sponsored Team World Barefoot Center skier, I have met and skied with many of the athletes that will travel to Australia and compete. I myself will compete as an Independent U.S.A. skier, but want to point out that I have the utmost respect for all the competitors as I have seen their dedication and preparation over the last year. Countless hours of training on and off the water have been spent practicing new and untried techniques, searching for the key to perfecting their trick run, slalom pass or jump.

The Australian team is a force to be reckoned with, but each country brings top skiers and anything can happen. Whatever the results, each individual skier can be proud that he or she was there to represent their country. Kudos to Keith, David, Ashley, Ben and Swampy for pushing us to be the best that we can possibly be……I’m lucky to have been coached by each and every one of them. I’m lookng forward to skiing ‘Down Under’ as it has always been a goal of mine. I will be visiting family there before moving down to Mulwala on he border of New South Wales and Victoria, on the Murray River. It will be the middle of Summer there as the rest of you in the Northern Hemisphere will experience extreme cold weather, so bundle up and stay tuned to Australia…………. Good Luck to everyone!

Bob’s Your Uncle,
Jim Forster

Jim Forster: Water Creatures

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

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Have you ever wondered what all of the wildlife thinks about when they see one of us ski by? Curious perhaps, but I’d bet they are more scared than not.

Just think about it: here comes a large machine, going real fast and making a lot of noise towing another living animal. Their first instinct is to get as far away from you as possible. The point I’m making is that when you’re skiing on a lake, river, or canal that you’re not familiar with, there’s no need to fear the animals (unless you’re in Africa and hippos are in the water). I live in South Florida and respect the alligators, but am not afraid of them for the reasons I mentioned above. Unless you’re swimming in the water and are in for long periods of time, alligators will stay as far away from you and the boat as possible. Don’t mistake what I’m saying, alligators should be respected. After all, it’s their habitat that we’re intruding on, but as long as you’re near a boat with it’s engine running, they will stay away from you. To them, the boat is bigger, louder and faster than they are.

I have seen some really large water moccasins when I was skiing in Louisiana and I definitely gave them a wide berth. I wouldn’t recommend irritating them as they can be pretty aggressive and are very poisonous. But for the most part, where I ski we rarely see any snakes. Also, the waterfowl (birds) can also be a factor when you ski. Here in South Florida, there are a couple species of ducks that inhabit the canals and lakes. They too, should be respected. At times they swim across our boat path and we wait it out, after all, they’re living creatures and we wouldn’t dare cause harm to them.

As we approach the Winter months, remember, the gators and snakes are reptiles and they are cold blooded. They become slow and lethargic until they warm up in the sun, so if you should encounter them, don’t become alarmed. Chances are they will just lay there unless you disturb them. Well, I hope that I haven’t frightened anyone and would like to wish everyone skiing at the upcoming World Barefoot Championships in Mulwala, Australia good luck. I hope to see you in there in March!

Jim Forster

Jim Forster: Barefooting from the Driver’s Perspective

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

       

 When competing in a barefoot tournament, a lot of focus as a skier, is whether you are going to get the pull from the driver that you are expecting. We are all familiar when practicing at home with the start, speed and boat path as we usually train with the same skiers. All of a sudden, you are faced with an unfamiliar driver which can put added pressure on and cause yourself distraction. As I have stated in a previous article that I wrote, it’s a good training technique to train with different drivers as this will help you to adapt to different pulls that you are not accustomed to and remove the uncertainty.

         As a Level 2 Driver and a competitive barefooter, I have the unique perspective of how we as drivers think and what is expected of us. I really enjoy driving and can tell you that for me, I put a lot of pressure on myself as I want to give every skier exactly what they want. If a skier misses a back deepwater start, a toe up or a back tumble, to name a few, I feel personally responsible and will notify the Chief communicator if I have any doubt that the pull was not to specification. A lot is expected of us and we are tasked with performing with as few mistakes as possible. Experience plays a big role in becoming a solid driver and cannot be gained overnight. As a driver, I want to make the skier feel comfortable and gain their confidence, but at the same time, adhere to the rules. When pulling my friends in practice, I strive to give them exactly the pull they want and also to drive with the same precision as one would expect in a tournament.

        I would advise prospective drivers to learn all the different phases of acceleration and to smoothly achieve speed level off as this makes a big difference to the skier behind the boat. You want to learn to accelerate smoothly up to the called speed, but not overshoot it…..the throttle pull back can cause the skier to fall if it is severe enough. This takes a little practice and can actually be done even with Zero Off speed control devices. Also as equally important to prospective drivers, is to learn the rules as set forth by the World Barefoot Council (WBC). These can be found in the WBC Technical Rulebook. Chapter 15 Towboats, deals with some of the more important ones, but others can be found in the other chapters. You need to be knowledgeable on what is expected of you as an official and also gain confidence that you can perform any start and pull any speed.

       Probably the most difficult start to pull is the back tumble up to one……..there are only a handful of skiers that perform this start, but what really helps the driver successfully pull it, is for the skier to call an RPM rather than a MPH or KPH for the level off speed. This also applies for those skiers that aren’t really solid on their back deepwater starts……..the RPM reference I have found, enables the skier to achieve a nice, smooth plant. Something else I encounter is pressure on myself from the judges in the boat, as they are also watching my boat path and acceleration, they can be critical at times, but a good driver has to be able to listen to, and accept criticism. This is all part of becoming a better driver and at the same time, gives .skiers a good tournament experience.

         I hope that this has given you an insight to what drivers experience………the next time the boat pulls up to you at the starting dock, you can be confident the driver will be waiting to please!

The Sport of Barefooting

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

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Have you ever wondered what other barefooters think about when they ski? Are they nervous, not afraid to take a fall, or maybe even calmly playing the next trick out in their mind?

The truth is, at one time or another, we all have done these things. In fact, barefooting is a very technical sport and takes not only a lot of physical preparation, but a lot of mental as well. We all know what it feels like to take a hard, unexpected fall but are willing to do so in order to learn new tricks and techniques. Hopefully, as we progress, we take fewer falls and build confidence which makes us better skiers.

I would like to share with you some personal techniques that I use that help me focus and concentrate on improving my skiing. They are very simple ones that I either learned from someone else or I developed on my own.

Tip#1:
I never train in the same order everyday; I mix it up. For example, yesterday I skied Wake Slalom first, today I’ll start with Tricks. You never know what event order you’ll be required to ski at the next tournament. Also, mix up practicing your back and forward Wake Slalom…don’t always practice in the same order. That way, when you ski in a tournament, you’ll be prepared to ski backwards into the wind and forwards with the wind….you won’t be psychologically affected when you have to ski out of your normal routine. This also applies to Tricks, the bottom line is not to develop a set routine, mix it up, be able to ski on demand.

Tip#2:
I sing a song in my head when skiing This allows me to clear my mind of any negative thoughts, think positive. It also helps to calm my mind and perform every trick/wake crossing slowly and deliberately. Of course, the songs that I use change all the time, but the concept remains the same. I picked up this technique from World Junior Champion Mike Caruso. I’ve have driven him in many tournaments and noticed that he was whistling when he rode over the jump. he later told me that whistling his favorite song helped to calm his mind. It seems to work for me, you should try it.

Tip#3:
Train your weak link, that is practice your reverse tricks first. I will sometimes ski an entire set of only my reverse turns, toe holds, etc. You can perform your basics without any trouble, why not make your reverse as solid as your basic. This I learned from none other than the Coach himself ( Swampy ).

Well, hopefully some of this may help your skiing……..it couldn’t hurt to try. And you can be sure that I’ll be watching and learning from all of you either during my next time at the World Barefoot Center or in my next tournament!

Jim Forster

Jim Forster: My Passions

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Have you ever wondered what drives you? Is it work, sport, or maybe even both? Well I can tell you with 100% certainty that I absolutely love my job and also skiing. For those of you that don’t know me, my chosen profession is that of a Corporate Pilot, employed by a company called NetJets Aviation, Inc. flying Gulfstream G450 and G550 business jets all over the planet. When I’m not flying to places like Beijing, Sydney, New Delhi, London, Dubai, Buenos Aires and Bangkok, you can find me out barefooting behind my 2004 Sanger 20 DXII in the canals of South Florida. When I’m flying at altitude, I’m always looking down at lakes, rivers and canals to find my next barefooting adventure. I’ve seen Short Line Lake in Sacramento, CA. from 45000 feet, flown over The Barefoot Ski Ranch in Waco, TX, and even over a skiing complex just north of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport and imagined what it would be like to get my feet wet there. It’s all part of what drives me, flying and barefoot skiing.

I think back to my humble beginning as a Private Pilot and also my first time barefooting, in both cases, I had an instant passion for both! I knew that I couldn’t wait for more….and so the long road began to gain experience and pilot ratings which led to me where I am today in flying and also the time on the water which I needed to perfect my barefooting skills. I am very fortunate to be where I am today, getting paid to do what I love the most and also staying healthy so that I can barefoot. My goal is to barefoot in every state in the U.S and every country that I visit. So far, because of my job, I have been able to barefoot in 17 states ( including Hawaii ) but only 2 countries, Germany and Greece. But with many good years left in front of me, I hope that add to that list. I’m always striving to meet new skiers and hopefully one day ski somewhere that I’ve never been before.

So the next time you’re skiing in your favorite spot and you see a business jet fly over, look up, because it could be me looking down and smiling at you!

Jim Forster

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Barefoot Winter Training

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

As we get into the Winter months, skiing at a high level becomes more challenging due to weather conditions, more specifically, colder water and air temperatures. Your ligaments and tendons are particularly prone to strains and tears, so you must take precautions to avoid injury. The key is to listen to your body; that is, if you feel worn down or fatigued, dial it back. Don’t push it, remember, you want to be able to continue to ski all year long. Being sidelined for a couple of months or longer will set you back and take valuable time to recover and get back to the level you were skiing before your injury.

Here are a few helpful tips for avoiding injury:

1) Before skiing, warm up. You can run, do pushups, situps, etc., just get the blood flowing.

2) AFTER warming up, stretch. Stretch your Hamstrings, Neck, and Rotator Cuffs. There are several stretching techniques available; use the ones you are comfortable with.

3) Finally, when you ski your first set, perform your Basics……Toe Holds, One Foots, etc. You don’t want to go out and attempt new Tricks without a Warm Up Run.

Following these simple steps will help to insure a productive and injury-free Winter Ski season…….remember, whether you’re 16 or 52 ( like me ), this will help you ski all Winter long.

Ski you later!

By: Jim Forster