Posts Tagged ‘Keith St. Onge’

Getting to Know Ben Groen

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The name, Ben Groen, is starting to get pretty big around the World Barefoot Center. You see his name on all of our video’s, You see him in the boat, coaching and instructing skiers of all ages and abilities. You see him on the phone taking care of customers and all over the school taking care of business.

Ben is 22 years old and he is from New Zealand. The Groen name is famous in the barefooting circles, as his Dad Rob and uncle Fred have been involved in the sport for over 30 years and are still deeply involved to this day.  Ben first came to the school when he was 18 for what was suppose to be a one week stay, which ended up being being a six week stay. In those first six weeks with us at the World Barefoot Center his trick scores went from the mid 2000’s to around 5000 points.  We were so impressed with him as a young man that we decided to sponsor him. He came back to the school a few months later but this time he stayed for three months. To make a long story short, we all continued to be so impressed with this young man that we started working on making him a full time fixture at the school.  We started working on getting him a three-year sports visa, with the support of his parents Rob and Wendy Groen. And as you now see, the rest is history.

On a personal level, I love this kid and am very proud to be like a second father to him with the support of his wonderful parents.

On the water, he has a great attitude and works as hard anyone else who I have ever coached. He loves the sport, and when he is not on the water, you will see him watching his videos and doing his dry land practice. He is a true student of the sport and it has all paid off as he is one of only a handful of skiers who has ever tricked over 10500 points in the history of the sport.  In the last two years, he has been bouncing between being ranked the 3rd and 4th best overall skier in the world–with only the two greatest skiers ever, David Small and Keith St. Onge, being ahead of him.

In the boat, he has also become one of the most respected coaches and instructors in the sport. The feedback from all of our students at the ski school from first timers to top competitors is just amazing–everyone just loves skiing with Ben and they all learn so much from him. He has truly become one of the worlds best instructors.

Ben is a very unique and gifted person, big hearted, and very friendly.  He has some of the best people skills that I have ever seen. He is very unselfish and always goes out of his way to take care of people and our furry family members around the school. (Yes, he is a big animal lover.)

He is so mature for his age that I always tell people that he is 22 going on 40. Off the water he is involved in every aspect of the business and I would trust this kid with anything. A hard worker and a quick learner and with people skills second to none and then throw in loyalty and a true love for what he does you then have someone who is worth a ton to the business, a person that can not be replaced with ease. So we at the world barefoot center realizing this have made Ben a partner in the business and Ben has now applied for a green card to be a long term part of this great business that we are building.
So there you have it.

Ben Groen is from a great family with great parents
Is one of the top skiers and instructors in the world
Is one of the friendliest and caring persons that you’ll ever meet
And at 22 is also a part owner of the largest barefoot water sking schools in the world
We are so lucky to have him and I am so proud to be coaching and to be involved in the life of one of the finest young men that you’ll ever meet.
Swampy Bouchard

Reflections of Women’s Barefoot Week 2013

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The 4th Annual Women’s Barefoot Week has come and gone but the memories will remain forever.   This year we had near-perfect, hot, sunny weather almost every day and of course, the World Barefoot Center crew always finds calm water.   David Small, Ben Groen, Ashleigh Stebbeings, Keith St. Onge, and Swampy Bouchard provided some awesome coaching and instruction. Every single gal experienced success on the water that week!

The guys gamely donned pink Tommie Copper shirts in honor of the gals and the Breast Cancer Campaign at Tommie Copper.  Yes, it takes real men to pull off pink so well!

A special thank you goes out to our sponsors who donated some awesome products for our gals:  Badger Balm, Tommie Copper, Vibram Five Fingers, Barefoot Wine, Hpnotiq, and Crispers.

And anytime you can get a guy to cook, it’s always a good thing.  In the case of Chris Mcwatters, it’s a GREAT thing. Chris put together a wonderful Mexican dinner for all of us.  One thing to note: what Chris labels “mild” is actually HOT.

Judy Myers did a great job once again of organizing and executing Women’s Barefoot Week.  If you’d like to be on the email list for next year’s event, email Judy at  Sorry, guys, it’s for gals only.  Donning a pink shirt will not get you admission to that week.

USA Water Ski Newsletter featuring Women’s Week

By: Karen Putz

Alex Youngblood: My Coaches

Sunday, October 27th, 2013


A lot of different coaches have taught me a lot of different stuff. Let’s start with Keith St. Onge, Ben Groen, and David Small. Keith, Ben, and David are my main coaches. They taught me my front toeholds and my back deep long line. They worked me really hard and it all paid off. I usually go to their ski school every spring now for about 2 weeks.

Another one of my coaches was Lane Bowers. He taught me my first back deep on the boom. One thing he told me to do, which I still do it to this day is to growl when you are in the motion of getting up. That helped me a lot. So, that back deep had a huge impact on my skiing.

Last but not least, Kenny Kaestner. He was the one who taught me my first front deep. We made a special deal. If I got the front deep with his help by October 1st, he said he would give me, my very own junior handle for free. I told him, it was a deal! After that I practiced and practiced and practiced. Finally the day came to do it. I tried and tried and tried, I wasn’t going to give up. I tried it one last time and on that that attempt, I did all the mechanics right…AND I GOT IT!!! I was extremely happy and flabbergasted! And I thank him for that.

So those are all my coaches who have gotten me to this point. They rock!

– Alex Youngblood

Chandler Cargile: Using Video Review to Improve Your Barefooting

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

There have been many things help me learn a new trick such as the coaching, the training, the encouragement, and reviewing videos. It is amazing how much it has helped me in my skiing after watching my skiing and studying it closely. The reason it helps watching video is because I can watch my own skiing and watch where I am messing up, plus I can watch it in slow motion and get into detail on where I am really going wrong. Even more than watching my own skiing, watching Keith St. Onge’s slalom and David Small’s jumping and tricks have helped me a numerous amount of times. Watching it has shown me how down weighting and being slow on the jump gives you big pop and keeping the handle out gives you more distance and time to come down on top of your feet. It has also shown me, in slalom, I am supposed to be aggressive on the transfers, shoulders forward and drive as hard as possible. And in tricks, I see how every turn is supposed to be slow and every turn is a one foot turn with a quick handle pass.

Watching my videos and going back and watching theirs has made a big help in my skiing. I recommend other skiers watch their and then watch Keith and Dave’s. It unbelievable how much it really helps.

David Small’s World Record Jump

Keith St. Onge’s video

David Small’s video

By: Chandler Cargile

Questions about Barefoot Water Skiing

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I love when kids from school send me an email or letter as a school project.  Some kids send the notes just because they want to.  Either way, I think it’s fun because it was something I always wanted to do as a youngster.  I don’t know why I never did?  Maybe it was because I thought I wouldn’t hear back from them.  I make it a point to always write back and answer all letters or emails.  If I did miss one or two in the past, I apologize, but you can send me another one if you’d like to and I’d be happy to answer your questions.

Here is an email I received from Abby:

Dear Mr. St. Onge,
My name is Abby. I am a fourth grader at Boulevard Elementary School in Shaker Heights, OH. Ms Tina McCauley is my gym teacher. She told me about how you are a champion barefoot waterskier. I love to waterski too, but I don’t do barefoot. My favorite is slaloming; I learner when I was 7. Ms. McCauley gave me your book which gave me the idea to write about you. I need to write an article for my school newspaper, the Boulevard Times, and I’d like to write about you. I have some questions about barefoot water skiing that I was hoping you could answer.

1. My first question is, how much harder is barefoot waterskiing compared to slaloming?

​I explain it like this: A slalom ski has a lot more surface area and two bare feet has much less surface area.  It is a little more difficult to barefoot water ski than slalom skiing, but as long as you learn correctly with a proper position ​it’s not too hard.  Think about it…skiing with no skis on…how cool is that?

2. When the weather is too cold to ski, what else do you like to do?

I wrote a book as you know and that took me over two and a half years to write, so writing took a lot of my time.  I like to work out and stay in shape when I am not barefoot skiing.​​
3. What age did you decide that you were going to make waterskiing your career and why did you decide to do it?

When I was 13 years old I had a news paper reporter ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up.  Just as I explain in my book I said, “I want to move to Florida, open a barefoot water ski school and become National and World Champion.  I decided to do this because it was my passion.​

4. How long did it take you to get up, consistently, barefoot waterskiing?

Learning how to barefoot was easy but learning the start on the rope took me a long time.  I was 10 years old when I learned and I use to hate the water splashing me in my face.  Every time the water splashed my face I would let go of the handle and have to start all over again.  It took me all summer to learn that start but once I got past my fears I was extremely consistent.​

5. When you compete, how many people are you up against?

At local tournaments I’m up against guys like David Small, Ben Groen and only a few others.  At Nationals I’m going against about ten.  When I compete at the World Championship I’m going against thirty or more skiers.​

6. Do you have any advice for people who want to learn to waterski?
​Make sure you learn from someone you can trust.  If you learn the wrong way it is possible that you’ll take hard falls and you won’t want to try again.  Getting professional help from people like us at the World Barefoot Center is what most people do the first time out.  We now have the SeaHorse Ski where people can try for the first time and not fall.  Here is a video of it.
​Abby, I hope my answers to your questions will help out!

To grab a copy of my book: Gliding Soles, Lessons from a Life on Water

Keith St.Onge

14 x US National Champion
11 x World Championships Gold Medalist