Posts Tagged ‘jim youngblood’

Alex Youngblood, Nine-Year-Old Barefoot Competitor

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Alex does a flyer at the Michigan tournament

She’s a tiny, little thing standing on the dock, but when nine-year-old Alex Youngblood stands on the water, you can’t help but say, “Wow!”   She’s a kid with a real passion for barefoot water skiing.  And when you talk to Alex,  you can literally see that excitement– her whole body radiates when she talks about the sport she loves.  Alex first put her feet in the water on water skis when she was three-years-old.   “Alex would watch me from the boat and mimic me barefooting,” said Jim, her father.  “She would pick up a handle and put it on the pylon and pretend that she was barefooting.  She probably learned a lot just from doing that.  I put her in the swing and let her dip her feet in the water– she took to it very quickly.”

Jim’s own first taste of barefooting came when he was in his 20’s, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience as he injured himself while trying the sport.  He decided to stick with slalom skiing– until he began hanging out with two barefoot skiers (one who was Chris Szwed, father of Kyle and Laura Szwed) who  needed a spotter.  They convinced him to give barefooting another try, insisting that with proper equipment and training, it would be a much better experience.  “Once I tried again, I got the bug and never looked back.  I left slalom skiing behind,” Jim laughed.

Alex competing in the Michigan tourneyAlex has been bitten by the same bug.  In 2009, Kenny Kaestner from Foot’n Foundations challenged Alex to learn a deep water start so that she could compete in the Regionals and Nationals.  He promised her a brand new junior toe handle if she could complete the start and send him a video.  Alex worked hard and at the end of the ski season that year, she was the proud owner of a new handle.   “Alex looks up to Kenny–that challenge was a turning point for her,” said Jim.  “You know how it goes, you can tell your kids the same thing over and over and they become numb to it.  Alex did everything that Kenny asked her to do, he is a good teacher for her.”

Alex learned backwards on the short line earlier this year with instruction from Lane Bowers, and she has the goal of qualifying for the Worlds next year.  At a recent Michigan tournament, Alex scored a 2.8 in slalom and 350 in tricks.  She added knee skiing at the end of her second run, something that Jim says he can’t do himself.  “If she can get backwards long line and a few other tricks– one foot and tumble to one, then qualifying for the Worlds is doable,” Jim explained.  “It’s her desire and her wish to go to the Worlds, not mine.  She has a very competitive personality–not against others– but she sets goals for herself and then works to see if she can accomplish it.”

Watch for Alex on the water!

Written by: Karen Putz

Alex, barefooting with her parents

All this barefooting is tiring!