Posts Tagged ‘Keith St. Onge’

Alexis McCauley: My First Nationals

Saturday, November 29th, 2014


The 2012 U.S. Barefoot Waterski National Championships was held in Waco, Texas at the Barefoot Ski Ranch. The drive from Ohio was about twenty-one hours.

We arrived early the first day for sight familiarization around 8:00 AM. We sat on the start dock gazing down the lake. After about 15 minutes, my dad tells me to look and see Keith St. Onge riding a bike down the bike path. Once he got to the dock, he introduced himself to us. He shook his hands with us and he said it was great seeing us barefoot waterski as a family. My whole family was there my dad, mom, brother, sister, grandma, and Aunt Tina. Keith asked if it was ok for him to take a practice run and we said absolutely. Watching Keith was really awesome, he was so smooth and flawless.

We then all skied out our practice runs. I was having a great time meeting people from all around the country and world. I skied my passes and was able to get another personal best score in tricks and slalom.

At the banquet I received a 2nd place medal. I was able to meet Ashleigh Stebbings and Swampy for the first time. Now they are both of my coach’s at WBC. Looking back to the 2012 Nationals, it had opened my eyes to bigger dreams.

Alexis McCauley




Keith St. Onge makes the South Dakota News

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

I had the pleasure to go to Rapid City, South Dakota and barefoot water ski with the Mortimer and McGrath family the first week of June.  While I was there KOTATV came out and shot a bit of video.

Too see the news clip click on the link below.

KOTATV News in Rapid City, SD

Body Slide be Keith St. Onge

Keith St. Onge’s World Championship History

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

1996 World Championship:

At the age of 18 Keith skied in his first World Championship held in Fergus Falls, MN in 1996.  Keith was a member of the winning USA World Team that earned a Gold in the Team Overall.  He qualified to ski in the second round in all three events (slalom, trick and jump) and took 7th Overall.

Keith St. Onge competing in his 1st World Championships in 1996

1998 World Championship:

In 1998 Keith moved to Florida for the winter and trained for the World Championship in Sydney, Australia.  He won his 1st gold medal in Slalom and took 3rd Overall.  Keith was a member of the winning USA World Team that earned a Gold in the Team Overall.

2000 World Championship:

In 2000 the World Championships went back to Fergus Falls, MN.  Keith did not place in the top three in the individual events but took Silver Overall.  Keith was a member of the winning USA World Team that earned a Gold in the Team Overall.

2002 World Championship:

In 2002 the Worlds were held in Wallsee, Austria.  Keith was favored to win the Overall.  He took Gold in Slalom, Silver in Tricks and Silver Overall.  He came up short to the young David Small from England that surprised everyone with his talented skiing.  Keith was a member of the winning USA World Team that earned a Gold in the Team Overall.

2004 World Championship:

In 2004 the Worlds were in Mulwala, Australia.  Keith won the Bronze in the Slalom and Trick events.  Keith was favored to win the Overall title once again but came up short to David Small.  For the third time in a row Keith won the Silver in the Overall title.  Frustrated and depressed on coming up short for the Gold Overall medal St. Onge changed his life habits and set out on a quest to win an Overall Title before it was too late. Keith was a member of the winning USA World Team that earned a Gold in the Team Overall.

2006 World Championship:

Keith trained harder than he ever had one year prior to this tournament and suffered a back injury that almost changed the outcome and stopped him from competing.  This event was held in Adna, Washington.  Favored to win once again the pressure was immense.  After the first round of the jump event Ketih’s back injury resurfaced.  The team masseuse (Charlene Portman) kept Keith’s back function-able to carry him through the tournament.  Keith went on to win the Gold in the Slalom event, Gold in the Trick event and his first Overall Title earning him the Gold.  This was by far Keith’s best performance setting World Records in every (3 rounds) round in the tricks event.   Keith was a member of the winning USA World Team that earned a Gold in the Team Overall.

2008/2009 World Championship:

Coming off his first Overall Title in 2006 Keith teamed up with past coach Gary “Swampy” Bouchard to train for the Word Championship in Otaki, New Zealand.  With an incredible trick routine put together by coach Swampy, Keith was the first skier to trick over 12,000 points in history.  Keith won Gold in Slalom and Bronze in the trick finals.  Keith won his first medal (Silver) in the jump event and won the Overall Title for the second time.

Keith St. Onge winning his 2nd Overall World Title with L-R, Team Coach Lee Stone, KSO with close friends Adin Daneker & Ryan Boyd

2010 World Championship:

Brandenbourg, Germany was the location of the 2010 Worlds.  Keith and David Small merged their barefoot water ski schools to create the World Barefoot Center.  They trained with each other under the wing of Coach Swampy and began skiing as friends but still harsh competitors at the tournaments.  Keith took Gold in Slalom and Tricks while David Small took Gold in Jump and Overall.  It was a clean sweep for the new business partners and a big win for the business.  Keith was a member of the winning USA World Team that earned a Gold in the Team Overall.

2012 World Championship:

Waco, Texas hosted the 2012 World tournament and it was another show down.  Keith won the Gold in Slalom and Tricks while David Small won the Gold in Jump and Overall.   Keith also won the Silver medal in the Overall title.  Keith was a member of the USA World Team that earned a Silver in the Team Overall.  This was the first time in twenty six years team USA did not win the Gold Team Overall.

2014 World Championship:

The worlds were held in Mulwala, Australia for a second time.  David Small put a personal best slalom score of 19.8 on the board in the 1st round.  Keith skied next and also put a personal best score on the board of 21.1.  The next event was jumping while Keith put a 25.4m jump up his first round David Small came back with a 26.5m jump putting them dead even for the Overall going into the tricks event.  David put a near perfect run together matching his world record of 12,150 points.  Keith bobbled on his first trick while the rest of his run quickly disintegrated.  He fell early in his second pass and posted low score up.  It was to low to make the semi-final round, which meant he would no longer be able to fight for an Overall medal.  The only thing he could do was focus on winning the gold in slalom and try to medal in the jump event.  Jump is Keith’s weak event but he had put many training hours into this event over the past few years.

Keith won the slalom event and jumped a personal best distance of 26.6m/87.3ft to put the pressure on world jump record holder David Small.  David fell short on his last jump giving Keith his first World Championship Jump Title and 13th career World Championship Gold Medal.  David Small won the trick and overall while Keith won Slalom and Jump.  This meant a clean sweep for business partners David Small and Keith St. Onge as well as for the World Barefoot Center Ski School.

Winning this jump title made Keith St.Onge 1 of 4 men to have ever won all three events at a World Championship. Others being, Brett Wing, Mike Seipel & Ron Scarpa.

2014 Jump Finals: 1st Keith St. Onge, 2nd David Small, 3rd Ben Groen. A World Barefoot Center sweep

2016 World Championship:

The Blue Moo in Alma Center, Wisconsin will host the 2016 Worlds.

World Barefoot Center Featured on Talizma

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

The World Barefoot Center crew is featured on Talizma, “Talent Worth Sharing”:

If You Love Water Sports Then This Video Will Thrill You to Core

More on WBC in the news:

WBC Featured in the News

Featured Footer: Patrick Wehner

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

“Put your foot in the water and step off,” Hans Pfister told Patrick Wehner back in 1984.  In those years, barefoot instruction was mostly a do-or-die approach and nothing fancy. Patrick was a tiny little kid when he stepped off a ski behind the boat for the first time at the age of eight.   He went about a quarter of a mile down the Rhine river with stiff legs straight out in front of him before he hit turbulence and let go.  It was the last run of the evening but on the ride to his home in France, Patrick was flying high inside. “My dad thought I had some skills and he pushed me at first,” Patrick recalled. “I didn’t enjoy it in the beginning. I was a shy kid. My dad was completely crazy about it. He loves barefooting.”

A few weeks later Patrick and his dad, Hilmar, drove eight hours to compete in the 1984 Nationals in Germany.  It was Patrick’s first tournament and back then, skiers could kick off a ski.  The moment Patrick kicked off the ski he immediately faceplanted.  He repeated it a second time and crashed again.  Patrick came off the water crying.  He went up to his dad and complained. “The driver didn’t give me the speed I asked for.  I want to go back–and compete and beat them!” he said.

In 1986, Patrick connected with National Champion, Thorsten Robbe, who taught him basic tricks and wakes.   Patrick took his first clinic with German skiers and annual trips to Florida to train with Robert Teurezbacher.  When he first arrived in Florida, Patrick couldn’t do much more than the basics and one foots.  After two weeks with Teurezbacher, Patrick could slalom on one foot and learned to barefoot backwards.

“When I was a kid, my father was the one who pushed me. He motivated me when I needed motivation,” said Patrick.  “When I was 15, my dad decided to stop sponsoring me, telling me I wasn’t training hard enough,” said Patrick. “So I had to think, did I want this?  That’s when I knew I was passionate about barefooting and I started doing it for myself.”   Patrick picked up a job doing roof and tile work to save for another trip to Florida to train with Teurezbacher.  As soon as he arrived he handed over a “Christmas Wish List” of all the tricks and skills he wanted to accomplish. Whenever Patrick struggled on the water or endured crash after crash, Robert would tell him, “Boy, the situation with you is desperate…don’t worry, we can fix you.”

“Robert was a complete coach. He taught me the proper kind of thinking and mental focus.  He influences every skier he works with. He’s very good at fine-tuning and noticing details,” said Patrick.

Patrick skied in several tournaments but didn’t rank high enough to place until the 1988 Junior Europeans when he came in third Overall.  The following year, he placed first in Slalom and Overall in the Junior division and received two three-inch-high trophies made of real silver.   By this time, Patrick was deep into the sport with his father as his coach. As soon as school finished for the day the two of them took off at 4:30 for a one-hour drive to the lake. The lake Patrick skied on was a public lake that was incredibly busy on the weekends. Patrick was not a morning person (still isn’t!) and he dreaded waking up early to get his runs in.  Hilmar had to tear the covers off and occasionally resorted to throwing a wet towel to rouse Patrick out of bed. Patrick skied no matter what the conditions were.   “Bad weather, bad water, or pain–there was no excuse because it was such a long drive to the lake. My father’s coaching was a ‘do or die method’,” Patrick chuckled. One day, he busted his eardrum during a back-to-front turn. His father simply gave him a wad of chewing gum to stick in his ear and sent him back out on the water. “It’s a real awful feeling to burst your eardrum–it happens when you fall sideways on the ear and hear a pop–all of a sudden in the water, everything is upside down you get afraid to drown. You don’t know where you are and  feel out of balance.  It doesn’t hurt so much right away–it just hurts a little–but at night when  back home lying in bed  the pain starts and becomes really ugly,” said Patrick.

The year Patrick turned 18 was a stellar year for him.  He graduated from high school, got his driver’s license, and won the Europeans.  He put off college/university for a year and went to work for his father.  At this point, Patrick began coaching himself.  “My dad would still coach me, but he wasn’t my main coach anymore,” Patrick said. “I was doing my own thing.  My dad was tough on me as a kid and I accepted it, but as an adult, it didn’t work–I didn’t accept it then.”

During the following summer, Patrick worked as a show skier in Germany and won the Europeans once again.  In the fall, he started classes at Colmar which had a special program for athletes. The nearest lake was two and half hours away and every weekend, Patrick would  get in as much water time as he could. During the week, he enjoyed other sports–swimming, football, and inline skating.

In 1996, Patrick began the process of switching from the German to the French team. “I skied my first tournament for France in 1998  for the World Championship in Sydney, Australia,” Patrick recalled.  “By this time, I already had previous contact with the team so my integration with the team was smooth. My skiing was at the peak–I was enjoying the fruits of all my years on the water and training sessions.”

It was at this tournament that Patrick started to realize he could aim for the Overall.  When he arrived at the Worlds, Patrick had no expectations as he had taken a year off from competing due to the team transition.  He spent a week tweaking his runs and getting some practice in. During the preliminary round, Patrick was one of the last skiers in the group.  By the time it was his turn, the crowds had dispersed and the rain was pouring down. The judges gave him the option of waiting for the rain to cease, but Patrick opted to go ahead.  “no one else was there–no spectators, no team, no announcers– and I skied the top score for the preliminary. So the next day, when all the skiers came to see the scores, they saw my name at the top and they were shocked.  ‘The top guy did 6,500 points –who the hell is this???’ they said.  It was a cool moment,” Patrick laughed. “I was a newcomer on the French team–no one was expecting me.  We always had an Australian or an American in the top and it was nice to have a French skier in the top.”  The score turned out to be a personal best and an European record.

At the start of the final round of tricks, Patrick was in the lead.  Ron Scarpa skied a personal best and returned to the dock all pumped up, pouring on the pressure. Patrick fought to calm his nerves and managed to go out and ski another personal best. At first, the unofficial results showed Patrick to be in first place, but the judges took off 100 points for what appeared to be “butting out” on one trick.  Patrick was stunned because he knew he completed the trick without the penalty.  At the awards that night, the trick runs were shown on a big screen and one by one skiers noted the discrepancy in the scoring.  One of the judges came up to apologize to Patrick.  “I knew in my heart I was really close and in my heart I can say I got it,” Patrick said.   “I don’t need the medal for that–I know for myself that I made it. Over the years I’ve discovered the medals don’t matter–they don’t mean anything if you’re  satisfied what you did for yourself–that’s the most important thing.”

Around this time, the competition in the barefoot community began to heat up, with David Small working his way up the European ranks and Keith St. Onge hot on the tail of Scarpa.  At the 2000 Worlds, the aim was for the top spot.  Patrick went into the tournament with the expectation and the goal of winning the Overall.  His friends and family were sitting in the stands, adding more pressure to the event. A fall during the slalom event took Patrick out of the running so he concentrated on winning tricks instead.  During the semi-finals for tricks, Patrick took a  hard fall and his eardrum burst.  The tournament was over for him. Scarpa walked away with another Overall win.

“I entered that tournament with the goal to win  instead of skiing the best I can–it was the wrong goal,” Patrick explained. “I was disappointed, but I wasn’t bitter. Somtimes you need to experience defeat to become better and do better the next time.  Sometimes you have to step in a pile of shit to know what it feels like–so the next time you won’t do it again.”

Patrick returned home determined to put the mistakes behind him and start over again with a renewed attitude.  At the next Europeans, he took the Gold in Slalom, Tricks and Overall and walked away with his first World Trick Record.  Small came in third and Patrick could feel the heat from his rapid progress up the ranks. “David was like a shooting star–his career just took off like a rocket,” Patrick said. “It took me a while to realize he would be a leader–I probably didn’t want to accept it at first.”

By this point, Patrick was on the water nearly every day, hauling the boat 45 minutes each way.  His dad took up coaching him again, although sometimes it was a tough dance  to put aside the father/son relationship on the water.  During one training session, Patrick approached the jump only to realize too late that the jump was moving.   He launched off the jump at a crooked angle and landed in the water sideways, painfully wrenching his knee.  “I remember floating in the water with my knee hurting like hell, feeling as if it were on fire. I thought the season was over for me.”

A doctor concluded the same thing: Patrick’s season was over.  He had a possible torn ligament which would require surgery.  A second opinion with an orthopedic specialist gave him hope–he could build up the muscles around the knee with cycling and walking for six weeks and let the knee heal.  Just two weeks before the Europeans, Patrick taped up his knee, slapped on a knee brace, and returned to practice.  At the tournament, he tricked a personal best and a pending World Record.  Just ten minutes later, Keith St. Onge set another record in tricks. Patrick walked off with his sixth European Overall title.

During his preparation for the 2002 Worlds, Patrick injured his knee once again during a practice turn.  The doctor prescribed complete rest and no skiing until the Worlds. It was a crazy gamble for Patrick–was it even worth it to compete with a mangled knee?

This was the Worlds where the competition was intense. Patrick skied well and captured a gold in Tricks.  David Small exploded on the water and captured the Overall.  Keith St. Onge took second.  Patrick and Ron Scarpa were battling for third and Patrick edged him out with a jump.    “I think Keith was desperate as I was when David won.  We felt like, ‘Damn, we deserve it!’ David came out of nowhere and got it–that was a bit tough to swallow.  We both skied the worlds a long time–me since 1988 and Keith since 1996–and neither of us won.   That’s the game, and there’s  nothing you can do about it–the best always wins.”

A few weeks later after a jump tournament, Keith and Patrick were drowning their sorrows with a few drinks and reflecting on their losses.  Keith poured out his disappointment in missing his dream of a World Overall title. Patrick reached into his wallet and took out a card.  John Pennay, another skier, gave the card to Patrick during a challenging time. It was a card with a quote by William Arthur Ward:

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”

The game began changing for Patrick in 2003. His daughter Olivia was born and Patrick was smitten with his little girl. He still managed to get a lot of skiing time in as the weather in France was unusually warm that year. He captured his seventh Overall at the Europeans.  Life was pretty good with work, skiing, and family, but Patrick was finding it hard to juggle it all with a new house thrown in.  His skiing went downhill the following year.  He didn’t medal at the Europeans. The Worlds proved to be anti-climatic for him. “Somehow,   it’s a  blank tournament for me, maybe because not much happened.  David won again, Keith came in second again, and for my skiing, well… I didn’t ski up to my expectations.  I skied average and that’s not good enough for any ranking.  I felt old during that tournament.  I wasn’t ambitious enough.”

Patrick bounced back at the World Games in Germany, taking first in Slalom and third Overall and a gold in Tricks at the Europeans. Slowly and surely, without him really being aware of it, his passion for the sport began to wane as he shifted his focus to work and family.  It was becoming increasingly difficult to schedule the training time required to keep up with the competitors who were pushing the scores higher and higher in the tournaments.  Even with the stiff competition at the 2006 Europeans, Patrick grabbed a gold in Slalom and Tricks.  “That surprised everyone, me included, because everyone was skiing so strong there. I didn’t think I would take the gold in that tournament,” Patrick said.

The stress of work, family, and skiing took a toll on Patrick until one day, after an intense argument with his dad about trying to fit it all in, Patrick decided to quit. He was not going to ski in the 2006 Worlds. When the team captain heard the news, he urged Patrick not to give up. “You’ve had a good start to the season, do it for the team,” he said.  It took several phone calls to convince Patrick to ski once again.

“I went to the tournament and I decided not to put any pressure on my shoulders–no stress. I decided to do well for the team and not focus on myself.  I skied that tournament  with a really relaxed  attitude.  I enjoyed the whole tournament, being there with the team and  hanging out with the other competitors. I enjoyed the skiing and I was happy with my results (third Overall)– it was really recreational tournament for me, almost like a vacation.”

Keith won the 2006 Worlds, culminating his life-long dream to make it to the top.  He thanked Patrick for the inspirational quote card. (The card has since passed through three more people. You can read the story of this card in Gliding  Soles, Lessons from a Life on Water).

Patrick, A.J. Porreca, and Keith with the quote card

After the Worlds, Patrick found himself burned out and took a complete break from tournaments and skied occasionally for fun. At the end of 2007, he decided to enter a small local  tournament just for fun and ended up scoring close to his personal best in all three events.  “That break fed my passion back,” Patrick said. “I shifted my focus to becoming a Senior skier.  I came to realize it was not about the medals, it was about being with friends and living the fun moments.”

In December of 2008, Patrick drove to the south of France to spend a week at a training camp to get ready for the Nationals and 2009 Worlds in New Zealand. During his second run, he caught a heel and severely injured his knee again.  He missed the Worlds and focused on healing his knee for the World Games.  When he returned to his training, something wasn’t quite right. Patrick found himself dragging on the water and not having his usual strength. Once again, he injured his knee landing a jump. “I knew I was done for the year,” Patrick said. “I was starting a new job which took a lot of energy, so I decided to take a leave from barefooting and ski just for fun.”

As the year passed on, Patrick started to notice his strength was waning despite working harder to keep in shape with mountain biking and judo.  Occasionally he would lose  his grip on a glass or drop things.  His speech began to slur at times and his mom urged him to see a doctor.  Patrick was referred to a neuro specialist and underwent a battery of tests.  The diagnosis was a grim one: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The average life expectancy was two to five years.  (You can read more here: Patrick Wehner, Living with ALS).

At first, life took a horrible turn for Patrick. “Your barefooting days are over,” the doctors told him.

But barefoot water skiers are a different breed.  You have to be mentally and physically tough to rise to the top in this sport.  So Patrick applied the same mental toughness to ALS and started doing some research. At first, the information depressed him and pulled him down. He shifted his focus to health and wellness instead. He quickly learned that the quality of his life depended on his outlook and his daily choices. He decided he was going to choose health and happiness.  He quit his job, got married, and took up sailing.

Even though he could no longer compete, Patrick wasn’t going to give up his passion so easily.   He took off for Texas to watch the 2012 Worlds and support his friends.  At the end of the tournament, the World Barefoot Center surprised him with the Patrick Wehner Sportsmanship Award, a biennial award given to an up and coming Junior skier.  Patrick’s nephew was the first recipient.  At the end of 2012, he took a trip out to the World Barefoot Center and took a run with Keith.

Patrick and Keith

“One of the things I learned from Patrick is that the little things matter,” said Keith. “At the World Championships, Patrick was watching the fireworks and really enjoying them.  After it was over, he turned to me with a big smile and said, ‘I love fireworks!’  Just the way he said it–he was deep into enjoying the little things that most people take for granted.  So that’s what I try to do nowadays. Patrick helped me see how the little things in life can be so awesome, so monumental. I try to enjoy the little things more often and not work so hard all the time.  Focus on what really matters. I’ll walk down the dock stop and look at the flowers or notice the little lizard on the dock.   I’m always fast-paced, in-a-hurry mode.  We don’t stop and give thanks for the little things in life that make up this world and realize the other things that matter.”

Life has slowed down for Patrick, but in a blessed way.  He and Helene’ occasionally travel but they cherish their time at home. “Since my ALS diagnosis, I appreciate that I stayed close to my roots and that my family and friends are near,” Patrick said. “Even when I travel, I like to come back home and enjoy the forests, hills, and trails around me. Before my diagnosis, I never noticed those things.  Now I put on my walking shoes and go for a long walk.  If you open your eyes, you will find it’s a great place–there’s no place better than the place you are. Sometimes the beauty is right next to you but you miss it because you’re looking for something further away.

“It’s all about perspective,” Patrick continued. “When you want something so much you fight for it, then you get it–and then after the first satisfaction, then you become frustrated and think, okay, what’s next?    If you focus on what you have and enjoy it, and take things step by step, minute after minute,  then you’ll notice after a while that you don’t have to be eager to get it– somehow life will throw that at you.  You have to learn to appreciate what you have right now.”

By: Karen Putz

Patrick, Helene, and Olivia

Duane Godfrey: One Foot Turns, A Work in Progress

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

So, I had hoped to finish off the toe-up practice stuff with an accompanying video…but haven’t filmed a video…hence a different topic: Setting up one foot turns

I remember a number of years back at Gliding Soles, that Keith told me about a better way of executing one foot turns. He explained that Eugene Sam had come up with the idea of turning like a stork with the raised foot pinned to the calf of the pivot leg. Keith said it was sound advice and that he was changing his technique.

We had all previously learned the one foot turn as holding one foot BSP, foot straight out front, and then executing the turn by turning the free foot from toes up (front) to toes down (back). This way worked for me (basic only) and my own particular thought was to reach the back px thinking of pointing my heel at the boat – to aid in not flailing the leg. However, I tend to overturn and I am sold on the advice of WBC of pinning the free leg because it will solve important aspects of the turn. When you pin foot to your calf, it forces you to turn with the correct forces and it is harder to throw the turn. Therefore, it is not comfortable when you have previously used other body parts/actions to throw the turn. As recently explained by David Small, the position feels awkward but one eventually adjusts, and the turns become much better controlled. It is better controlled because it
A. forces the proper use of the hips and
B. eliminates a flailing free leg throwing off the C of G hence losing balance….a flailing free leg is a lot of weight/force/distraction to contend with. Watch Ashleigh Stebbeings turn – very little movement, totally compact.

When I see falls from just basic one foots, it is a rarity that the fall occurs while standing on one: it is when the free leg contacts the water; therefore it is imperative that the foot goes back down with as much caution/rhythm as when it is lifted…same thing for turns. Putting the foot down early aborts the turn and will likely cause a fall or if lucky, just downgrade the turn. I am finding by trial and error that the penalty/faceplant for putting down early is not worth the unnecessary caution. Hiking the free leg, especially in the b-f, provides less opportunity to drop down and increases commitment.

I think a lot about skiing at home and what I want to try when I get back to FL. My f-b’s are overthrown and causes the free leg to flail hence adding to an imbalance and a battle to get balance at the back, therefore it is wasted time and setting up for failure. So, I need to setup and keep the free foot glued…relax..don’t overturn…stick the “landing” at the back px by coming down/cushioning. (Another tip from Mr. Small) For b-f (the harder turn and should be higher point value), I need different thoughts for my particular weaknesses -ie being pulled out of position, dropping the free leg, slow to regrab the handle, dropping the “free” shoulder, and being a wimp. Therefore setup with knee hiked, hold the shin flex all the way, and visualize success and the perfect front px. When I let go, keep looking back, hold up free shoulder while hiking the raised knee even higher, maintain strong shoulder, KEEP EYES OPEN, when coming to the front keep that handle in, ensure good knee bend and get that handle……C’mon you can do this as long as you keep that free leg raised HIGH!!!!

The above are what I think of for training and visualization. Then I will have to come up with one or two execution thoughts based on how it’s going and what I need. Finally, when the time comes, I am fortunate to have on-the-scene advice from WBC. You will have your own issues and lists.

Meanwhile I am sold on the pinned free leg concept and will work hard at trying to make my mind and body adjust.

I love this sport!

By: Duane Godfrey

Visualizing one foot turns

Barefoot Water Skiing in MEXICO!!

Thursday, January 30th, 2014


This was the first barefoot water ski destination trip ever and this is a trip you don’t want to miss in the future!!

After I did a clinic this past March in Mexico with Juan Carlos and Gustavo I knew I had to return!!  It was one of the best trips I had taken with awesome food, perfect weather and glass conditions every day…no lie!!

Our host Juan Carlos barefooting backwards

There isn’t a lot of Mexican barefooters (yet) so Juan Carlos invited me back down but asked if I could bring a few people with in order to help support the clinic.  We arranged a week in November, put a schedule of events together and organized a week of fun that included: Fly Boarding, barefooting, tourist trip to the town of Taxco, eating out and other local venues to see and explore.

I expressed to everyone that this trip would be a “relaxed barefoot clinic.”  This clinic wasn’t going to be pressed for time, we would start a bit later than usual, lunch wasn’t served till 3pm and we would enjoy the surroundings and live in the moment.  This is exactly how most Mexicans live and it was something I needed to learn and practice along with other busy businessmen.

I invited several people on this trip and the guys that decided to give it a go were Lee Stone, Don Stoppe, Glen Kinnear and Jimmy Stone.  My wife Lauren accompanied us and Juan Carlos’s wife Edith was so gracious to pick us all up from Mexico City airport.

The night or our arrival: L-R, Gus, Glen, Don, Juan, Jimmy, Keith & Lee

Here is how our schedule went:

Arrive in Mexico City on Nov. 10th, late morning or early afternoon.

Drive to Tequesquitengo on the 10th    (2 hours depending on traffic)

This trip is about the “experience, culture and relaxation.”  Nobody is in a hurry in Mexico.  Lunch is typically around 3pm, a siesta and late dinners similar to Europe.  Instruction will be from Keith St. Onge and four sets per day is not our priority, purpose or guaranteed.  This clinic will a two set or three set kind of clinic.  There will be plenty of skiing to do.  The sets may be slightly shorter or longer depending on the weather, physical ability and number of skiers.  Some days we may have seven skiers and other days we may have four or less.  I also want this trip to be fun and relaxing.  This will be a stress free and fun environment.

There will be internet/wifi available at Gustavo’s house, which will be one of the homes used for Lodging.

Nov. 11th

Wake up at 7am-ish Central Time

Eat breakfast, leave at 8am-ish (20min.) drive to site.  The ride is a great experience, seeing how people live off the land in Mexico.  Very poor area’s but amazing to witness.  Horses and donkeys are used to transport local crops.
For more info visit this link.

Put boat in the water and begin skiing at 9am or earlier or later.  One or two mornings we will do a Mexican style breakfast at the site.

Jimmy Stone enjoying his 1st run in Mexico

Lauren St.Onge relaxing while foot'n in Mexico

Don Stoppe foot'n with his sunglasses on.

Everyone skis two sets and we have a late lunch around 2-3pm, which is customary in Mexico

Everyone skis one set and we leave at 5pm or earlier or later.

The two homes used for lodging are on a beautiful lake that is very populated and busy.  We will not be skiing there.  The site we are skiing on will be private to us with no other motorboats. It has shorelines like our lakes in Florida.  No back wash and great for wind protection.  I can just about guarantee glassy conditions based on my first trip there.

At the end of the day Don pays the Mariachi Band to play some Mexican music for us.

Nov. 12th

Wake up at 7am or earlier and leave at 7:30 for breakfast at the lake.

Ski at 9am-ish

Lunch at 2-3pm

Leave at 5pm-ish

Pina coladas with fresh Pineapple & coconut milk (Rum optional)

Nov. 13th

Touring Day

9am – FlyBoarding

Lauren taught local Mexican lady how to water ski for the 1st time and Jimmy Stone enjoying the FlyBoarding in the back ground!

Don Stoppe getting ready for a rib shot, ouch!

Visit local Pyramids, and then drive to the city of Taxco, which is known for their Silver mining.  Silver can be found very reasonable here.  I explain this town like Greece without the ocean.  The city is built on the side of a mountain overlooking the valley below. Beautiful!

The crew visiting the local Pyramids

Mexican barefoot water skier Juan Carlos giving us the tour of the Pyramids

Nov. 14th

Wake up at 7am or early or later

Eat breakfast

Leave at 8am

Ski at 9am

Lunch 2-3pm

Leave at 5-ish

Pick up Coco’s to hydrate and visit the Estate of wealthy Cane Sugar owner.  Dinner was amazing with a beautiful atmosphere!

Awesome Dinner at the old sugar cane factory

Glen Kinnear loving the warm weather!!

Nov. 15th

Wake up at 7am

Leave at 7:30am

Eat breakfast at the lake at 8am

Ski at 9am – 9:30am

Lunch at 2-3pm

Finish at 5pm-ish

Pure glass everyday!!

Lee Stone striking a pose after enjoying a relaxing message!

Nov. 16th

Fly home early afternoon or evening

Time to head home

To say the least this trip was well organized and a compete SUCCESS!!  We plan on doing this trip again in November and possibly twice a year if we have the demand.  So, if you are interested please contact the World Barefoot Center, inquire and put your name on the list.

Private instructor: Keith St. Onge

Keith St. Onge coaching in Mexico

Thank you Gustavo for the amazing dinner on your terrace over looking the lake!!

Gustavo Barefoot water skiing backwards in Mexico

After the clinic in Tequesquitengo we said our good byes to Lee, Jim, Don and Glen.  Lauren and I along with Gustavo and his girlfriend Fernanda drove two hours South to Acapulco.  We met Juan Carlos and his wife Edith there.  The plan was to search for a barefoot paradise on one of the local lagoons.  We heard about some great places there and thought it would be a great place to host a clinic in the future.

We went up and down the coast and found many lagoons that would work out but the wind always blows off the ocean around noon.  This would hinder our plan to barefoot all day.  We then found a spot that has wakeboard boats and my next favorite thing to do on the water after barefoot water skiing is wake surfing.  It’s so fun because it’s slow pace, the falls don’t hurt, smooth water is not required and you can load the boat up with people.

My plan is to barefoot water ski in the morning, have lunch and then wake surf in the afternoon.  If this is something you want to be a part of please contact the World Barefoot Center or private message me on FaceBook.  I’m looking for four people that would be interested in this trip.

Here is one of the places we stayed at, which is only a ten minute drive from the site.

Lauren St. Onge relaxing in the infinity pool in Acapulco

Keith St. Onge taking it all in while in Acapulco Mexico

By: Keith St.Onge

Jackson Gerard: My Favorite Thing About Barefooting

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

My favorite thing about barefooting is that I am always learning something new at World Barefoot Center. My goal this year is to start learning turns on shoe skis. I have watched David Small do turns at 45 mph and watching him makes my mind think that I want to become a world champion like him.

The funnest things I have learned to do are back toe holds, backwards start and backwards slalom. My favorite trick is backward toe holds. I am still working hard almost everyday on line step position and tumble turns.

I can’t wait to learn how to slalom like my coach Keith St Onge. He is the best in the world. He makes it look so easy but really it is hard. But the best thing about Keith is that he is easy to talk to and he is a great coach.

I have a lot of goals this year and I know I can reach them because I have the greatest coaches in the world.

By Jackson Gerard, 11
Lake Wales, FL

Ariana Koehler: The WBC, A Home Away from Home

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

There are places all over the map I have considered to be home over the years.  I grew up in the Chicago area, but spent weekends and summers in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  Now I am living a little further north in Mequon, Wisconsin as I am going to school at CUW.  Moving from place to place is never the easiest thing.  You will never find two places the same, so you need to make the best of every destination.

Another place that has become a home to me is Florida.  Spending weeks at a time down there, it has started to become a part of me.  The people I have met through skiing at the WBC are now family to me.  I love spending time down there, on and off the water.  It is always so hard to leave them at the end of a trip.

Another thing that makes me feel like I am at home down there is attending the local church called The Rock.  I went there for the first time with Keith and Lauren when they invited my sister and I one Sunday.  Now I go every time I am down there and the people there have started to become a part of my family as well.  The church reminds me of the one we grew up in at home in Chicago.  Spending as much time as I do down there, the friends I made, and the church were two big things that make me feel at home.

No matter where you are, you can not let your surrounding change who you are and how you define yourself.  Find a home in every place you go, no matter how small or big the connection.

By: Ariana Koehler

World Barefoot Center on Life Recharged

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Check out the World Barefoot Center on Life Recharged:

Female show with Karen Putz:

Male show with Keith St. Onge:

The Tommie Copper TV segment can also be found on cable. Check your cable station for local dates and times.