Posts Tagged ‘Keith St. Onge’

Barefooting Friends

Monday, April 8th, 2013

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As I look back at the 22 years since I first learned to barefoot, one of the most memorable experiences has to be of all the friends that I’ve made along the way. We all share the same passion for Barefooting and it’s through these friendships that our sport continues to grow and flourish.

Remembering my first run across the water on my bare feet on Lake Anna in central Virginia, I had no idea at the time that I would eventually train, ski and become friends with some of the top barefoot skiers in the World. The likes of Mike Seiple, Ron Scarpa, Paul McDonald, Andy Sable, Brett Sands and now Keith St.Onge and Dave Small! They have all been an inspiration to me and have motivated me to continue to improve my skiing.

But of course, it’s everybody else that I’ve met along the way that makes Barefooting such an enjoyable sport. I always look forward to my time at the World Barefoot Center because I know that I will share the boat with skiers from all ability levels and backgrounds, and that I will learn SOMETHING from EVERYBODY. Who knows, that 11 year old kid from Wisconsin could be a future World Champion and by getting to observe his skiing, maybe it will help unlock the missing link that I’ve been looking for……….we serve as inspirations for each other. There I was in Winter Haven in 1996 skiing at Ron Scarpa Watersports and had the pleasure of skiing with a 14 year kid from the UK who, even then, was an incredible skier. Little did I know that he would become a future World Champion, multiple times….his name was Dave Small.

Then there was my very first barefoot tournament down in New Orleans in 2000, the Monster Mash, where I skied in a 2 day clinic given by a 19 year old kid from New Hampshire, who was also at that time, a phenomenal skier who also later become World Champion……his name was Keith St. Onge.

And finally, the time I was in Austin, TX competing at the 2004 U.S. Barefoot Nationals and I was looking for a ride to the tournament site ( my rental car partner had to get up early ) and a family from Port St,. Lucie, FL was nice enough to let me ride with them……and so I met the Pressendo family. These are just a few examples of the long lasting friendships that continue to this day that would not have been possible if not for Barefooting. Through competing in tournaments to training at ski schools, I have met a lot of fellow skiers young and old and it’s this comraderie that continues to define our sport.

I am looking forward to making new friends and no matter how busy I may be, I will always find time to make sure a fellow barefooter gets a chance to ski! So, if you’re like me and really enjoy Barefooting, don’t be afraid to take the time to talk to a fellow barefooter, you never know who that person may turn out to be……quite possibly a friend for life!

Jim Forster

Dave Miller: How I Started Barefooting

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Dave Miller, 1997

From as far back as I can remember I’ve been on a boat. I grew up in southeast Pennsylvania and my parents had a boat that we used to take out on the Schuylkill River just outside Philadelphia. We’d use it just for joy rides and swimming, but once I was old enough to drive and tow the boat to the river, my friends and I started waterskiing…on two skis. Our boat was a 17.5 ft Glastron with a 115 HP Evinrude motor…pretty peppy for back in the early 1980’s! My buddy, Drew, also had a boat that we’d take out on the river…it was a 13 ft Boston Whaler with a 40 HP motor. Between those two boats, we taught ourselves to get up on one ski.

As time went on, we got better and added a kneeboard to our toys. One day one of us came up with the grand idea of sitting on the kneeboard and trying to stand up off of it while wearing our Converse sneakers and it worked!! We were around 18 years old and had never even heard of barefoot waterskiing, but we knew it was cool! We (Dave, Drew and Danny) each did it a couple times and thought we were the coolest guys on the river!

Fast forward 15 years– one of my friends goes to a boat show in DC and buys an Eagle barefoot suit. He brings it home in May 1996 and says “lets learn to barefoot waterski.” I had no idea what barefooting really was so I went on the Internet to learn a little bit about it and it looked like fun! We spent three months trying to learn how to get up on our feet, and one day in September 1996, we got it!!! It was all longline with a  slalom rope, behind a Mastercraft ProStar 190– and it was brutally painful…..but I was hooked!

I went back to the Internet, searching–and met a guy named Geoff Olinde (he and Richard Grey could be twins) and we agreed that in the spring, he and I will go to barefoot waterski training in Florida at Ron Scarpa’s ski school. Because I have the best job in the world (a corporate pilot for GEICO), I spent a lot of time in central FL and I learned a lot in a very short time. I also met some really great people and developed some lifelong friendships. I also became influenced by World Champion barefooters and some soon to be World Champion barefooters. Whether they knew it or not, David Small and Keith St. Onge were two of the influential people I met in Florida–and they were both teenagers at the time!

Around June 1997, I heard there was a barefoot tourney in PA right on the river where I had grown up skiing– and being the competitive person I am I had to try it. I scored a 5.2 and a 760 in my first tourney and I knew I found my sport! I continued to compete until 2003, but when “life” and injuries kept me from competing at the level I desired I took some time off from the competitive side–but continued to ski for fun. In 2011, I decided to get back into the sport, more as a driver than a skier, and I couldn’t be happier!

By: Dave Miller

Barefoot Water Skiing clinic in Mexico with Keith St.Onge!!

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Barefooting in Mexico!

I’ve traveled around the world and back but Mexico was the one place I have yet to visit.  Actually, South America is still on the list as well. After speaking with Juan Carlos and Gustavo at the world championships in Waco, TX I expressed much interest in coming to their homeland. I contacted Juan Carlos a month afterwards and he said, “Let’s do it…buy a plane ticket and that will confirm everything.” It didn’t take me long. I bought a ticket that night.

Juan Carlos, his wife Edith & I eating Tacos in Mexico City

I arrived in Mexico on March 1st and Juan Carlos was there to pick me up. We went to his house and his wife Edith joined us for a traditional Mexican lunch, which is at 3pm in Mexico. Took me a little while to get used to that!   I love Tex-Mex in the states and I was hoping for something similar. We had taco’s with shaved meat, pineapple, onions and fresh squeezed lime over the top. They call limes, Limón’s down here and they come by the dozen. Fresh “Limón’s” are squeezed over every meal served. I loved that as it brought all the flavors out for the taste buds to go crazy. Lucky I like hot and spicy food because almost every meal was hot but not to the point of sweating thank goodness.

View of the Volcano off my balcony! Gorgeous!!!!

We drove South two hours to Tequesquitengo where his lake house was. The lake sat in a deep whole and I could see walls outlining the perimeter of the lake, which only meant one thing. “Bathtub” effects that I new would be horrible. Juan Carlos quickly confirmed we would not be skiing there and we would drive twenty minutes to Coatetelco where he had a private boat launch on a lake that provided great conditions.

When I woke up the next morning I had a spectacular view of the landscape over the lake. A volcano rose high into the panoramic view. We left for Coatetelco and I was able to reunite with an old time friend, Alejandro Alvarez. Alejandra came to my ski school nine years prior while my good friend Adin Daneker was down. We became the three amigos for a little over a week and had a blast. It was great to see him ski again and we enjoyed reminiscing about the past.

My good friend Alejandro Alvarez

Skiing in Mexico

The site was exactly like our lakes we use at the World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, FL. The shoreline had reeds on the side of the lake to absorb the rollers and many great shorelines that protected us from the wind. Out of nine days of skiing we hardly experienced any wind at all. Mountains surrounded us and the lake remained glassy throughout the days.

The restaurant on the lake

We launched the boat late that morning and ate lunch “at 3pm” at the local restaurant called Las Vegas. It was more like a bungalow with fire being their source of heat. I was introduced to tortillas everyday for our appetizer, not like the chips and salsa we experience in the states. Shrimp was recommend and it was great but after four days of shrimp I got brave and tried the fish. First I asked for the grilled fish but it has so many bones to pick through it was an hour long process. Next I asked for fried fish, which made it much easier to eat but it took forty five minutes to eat. I then kept it simple and ordered the fried fillet of fish. That was the ticket!

Fried fish was the number one choice be the locals so I tried it!

1st Barefoot day in Mexico! Full boat!

Saturday and Sunday the restaurant was jammed packed. Most people from the city come out to eat in the country as there were at minimum twelve restaurants on the lake. I love it there because they had live mariachi bands playing daily. Even though I don’t understand a lick of Spanish I loved the up beat style of the music. Local kids would come around and sell us peanuts, seeds and anything else they had to try to make a few pesos. Often we bought or gave them something. I gave a few kids an American dollar, which is pretty useless out in the country but may be cool to show around. I also gave them signed posters, brought them in the boat and skied in front of the restaurant to give them all a show.

We brought the kids in the boat and I gave the local kids a show one afternoon

Wicca, Juan Carlos’s dog loved to grab the handle and drag while being pulled over the jump ramp!
Wicca Jumping

We took an afternoon to visit the worlds largest under ground cave in length and height.

Beautiful cave 45min. from Taxco, Mexico. You can see how large the cave is by looking at the people in the lower right hand corner.

Following that we visited the city of Taxco, which is known for mining silver. There were small shops, a gorgeous church and great views as the city is built on a mountainside that reminded me of Greece, minus the ocean. The funniest thing about Taxco was the hundreds of white VW bugs that covered the streets as taxicabs.

Having lunch over looking a beautiful church & Taxco

Greece without the ocean

The next morning we woke up a little earlier and visited old ruins that were built hundreds of years ago. Fascinating history!  They played a game with a small stone similar to basketball. The playing field was built on a slanted course with two wooden wheels on opposite sides each having a hole in it. The winner was sacrificed to the Gods. Juan Carlos says that is why Mexico doesn’t have an superb athletes, of course he was just joking and I got a good laugh.

Temples over looking the lake we barefoot skied on

Ancient games played like basketball. The ring/hoop seems to be in the middle of this arena as the other fields had the ring/hoop on either side up one level.

Temple grounds

Gustavo and Juan Carlos cleaning their position up and learning 1ft. – 1 hands before moving onto front toe holds.

Gustavo working his 1ft. - 1hand

Gus doing his first toe hold on shoes

Juan Carlos working the 1ft. - 1 hand

Juan Carlos cleaning up his front toe hold

A few of the locals.

Local boys on their horses

Laura learning how to barefoot water ski on the shoe skis first.

Laura trying it for the first time

Everyday glass.

I love the iPhone Panorama option on my phone!

Carlos Garcia came out to see what we were up to. Carlos is one of Mexico’s legends in three event skiing and held Mexico’s jump record for twenty plus years. He was also known for his barefoot water skiing skills. His claim to fame was a trick he perfected that always got the crowd on their feet. You can find video’s on YouTube of him doing this. He would fall onto his back purposely looking as though he had fallen and then pull himself around and stand back up. Remember, he had an old life jacket on with three layers of jean shorts was all. Watching the video is quite amazing.

Mexico's Legend Carlos Garcia & Keith St.Onge

It was a pleasure to meet Carlos as I love the history of our sport. He invited me to do a demonstration at his well-known restaurant on the water. He was hosting a private party for the Secretary of Tourism and I was honored to do it. Catch was, it would be at 9pm. We arrived and I was able to meet many other water ski historians like Muchalo. He was the one that promoted and taught people how to ski in Mexico since nearly the beginning. He has a ski school and was even the one who taught Juan Carlos how to water ski for the first time.

First time up backwards for Chappa

Chappa made me laugh because he was screaming the whole time. He had a right too because it was his first time up backwards! Congrats buddy!

Local goats and crops being brought back by horse.

Letting the goats cross the road before continuing

Corn stocks being brought into town

I have never seen so many horses and donkeys in the street in my life. Definitely cool to experience and see. The locals are so resourceful they don’t let anything go to waist. I saw horses carrying wood, peanuts, corn, sugar cane, three people at a time etc… I even witnessed locals using fifteen foot bamboo poles with a hook on the end to retrieve fruits and nuts from massive trees on the side of the road. My favorite by far though…buying coco’s. Spanish for a coconut. $1.00 or 13 Pesos for a real coconut that they would cut a hole into and serve with a straw. Fresh coconut water that you could later cut open and eat!

My new good friends Juan Carlos and Gustavo!! Love these guys!

My new good friends Juan Carlos on the left and Gustavo on the right. Thank you both so much for your hospitality!

Gustavo’s daughter Mariana, who learned so much and plans on going to the next World Championship.   She has so much passion and achieved front toe holds on the shoe skis and back one foots on the shoe skis.

Mariana looking clean on her feet!

Bart: This 22 year old learned so much, so fast. Most people would hardly believe me but here it is. He barefoot skied one time on the boom before we met. He learned on foots on his feet, front toe holds on shoe skis, tumble turns, back deep on his feet on his third attempt, back one foots on shoes, back one foot one hand on shoes, both basic and reverse back toe holds on shoes done on his first attempt. Barefooting behind the boat on his feet on his 1st attempt, tumbles behind the boat, crossing the wake on shoes behind the boat, one foots on shoes behind the boat. Remember this is all done in six relatively short sets, which makes a day and a half of skiing. So, why not try a back to front on the boom while we’re at it right? Also remember, we were using the HeadZone helmets exclusively, which makes for faster and easier learning.
“Ok, do as I say and we’ll do a back to front.” I said to Bart has he was skiing on shoe skis. “Knees and feet together, weight on the right foot, handle into the small of your back, eyes and head up as high as possible. Now, just hold your position, turn to your left and let go.” He came to the front beautifully but caught a tip and fell. “Let’s try it again!” I said. He was more than ready to try it again! Next one he nailed along with several more to follow. Nearly flawless on the last one so I said, “Front to back.” Go up and down for your up weight and turn as you come up. Finally, something he couldn’t do nor come close to doing on his first attempt but absolutely sensational skiing and talent was witnessed those few days. We hope he continues to stay with it so he can also compete in the next world championships!

I hope to see this young man at the next World Championships!

I was treated like a king, ate like a king and will remember this trip for a lifetime! I can’t wait to go back actually! Juan Carlos and I have talked about doing a yearly clinic in Mexico with the option of making it open to whoever wants to come. Obviously it will be limited to a first come, first served basis. If we can spark enough interest this trip would be a package deal. Two days of skiing, a day to tour around and another two days of skiing. Simply driving to the ski site and eating there is an experience all in it’s own. From there you can go and do as you please. Acapulco is only two hours away and we plan on scouting the waterways in Acapulco for a future clinic. Please contact the WBC or I to let us know if you’d be interested in Barefoot Water Skiing in Mexico. A trip of a lifetime!

Thank you so much to Juan Carlos, Laura, Gustavo, Mariana, Claudia, Lulu, Edith, Chappa and everyone else who made my trip so memorable. I didn’t only gain great experiences but lifelong friends as well.  I look forward to going back in the near future!

Keith St.Onge


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WaterSki Magazine Features Keith St. Onge and David Small

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Rivals on the water

Have you ever wondered how the World Barefoot Center was formed, especially with two rivals coming together?

Keith St. Onge and David Small are featured in WaterSki magazine:

WaterSki Magazine: Rivals on the Water, Buddies in Business

Buddies in business

Featured video: David Small

Featured video: Keith St. Onge

World’s Oldest Female Barefooter Turns 70

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

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Judy Myers took a couple of celebratory barefoot runs today at the World Barefoot Center despite high winds and whitecaps. Keith St. Onge managed to find a patch of calm water and Judy was all smiles during her runs.

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If you’re not familiar with Judy, here are some links to catch you up:

The TODAY Show: Barefoot Water Skier is Landing on her Feet

Judy on Growing Bolder

Happy 70th birthday, Judy!

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Keith St. Onge or David Small, Who Is The Better Barefooter?

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The one question I get a lot behind the scenes, one-on-one from interested barefooting fans at the World Barefoot Center or at tournaments is this:

Who is actually the better footer, David Small or Keith St. Onge?

I am the guy who coaches and trains both of these great warriors. I get to see them both ski on a consistant basis during training and at tournaments, so I figured that I would tackle this question head on and give you my honest opinion and breakdown of these two great footers.

The first thing that we will look at is accomplishments:

World Championships Gold medals:

Small’z – 11
KSO – 11

World Championships Overall:

Small’z – 4
KSO – 2

World Games:

Small’z – 1
KSO – 2

As you will see in the comparison below, in the last three out of four world championships, the wins could have gone either way:

In Texas 2012, KSO fell on a back to back 360 and all he needed was that and two 180’s to win that one.

In the 2010 Germany tournament KSO won it from the original score sheets coming out of the boat and it took a chief judge intervention and some video to take his toe turn away and to give Small’z the victory.

Only in New Zealand in 2009 when Small’z fell in tricks and did not make the cut in tricks– was it not close.

In Washington 2006, where KSO won that one, he got a needed re-ride on one of his jumps and had some help when the last jumper zeroed out to allow him to sneek one by Small’z.

All of these tournaments were “that close”–and they all could have gone either way.

World Records

Small’z has held the jumping record for years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, KSO has held the slalom record for years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The trick record is currently held by Small’z and is the one that has been going back and forth between these two skiers and they have both set many pending records in the last couple of years that were not approved. I see this record being broken again by one or both of these guys in the next couple of years.

Worlds standing’s list:

Once again these two have been rotating number 1 and 2 for the last several years. Last year Small’z was slightly ahead for number 1 and KSO has overtaken Smallz for number 1 on this years list by just a few overall points. I expect them to continue to rotate around for that number 1 position.

Breakdown by event:

Jumping:

Small’z is the King of jumping, the best that the sport has ever seen. In recent years, KSO has made some big improvements and has closed the gap up in jumping enough to be one of the top jumpers in the world, but not enough to challenge the King. Smallz is so strong and consistent at this event and has such an understanding of what he’s doing that it’s just not fair for the rest of the competitors–they often don’t stand a chance against him.

Slalom:

KSO is King of slalom, the best in the sport. This is Small’z weak event and even though he has made some improvements, he is not in the position to challenge the King. KSO is so strong and consistent for both back and front wake slalom that any score below 20 is a major disappointment for him.

Tricks:

Tricks is the most difficult event and requires the most time and work, and this is where tournaments are normally won or loss between these two great competitors. They both do all the same tricks and have the same trick runs. KSO’s best score is 13,300 and Small’z best is 13,150. They are the only two that have ever tricked over 12,000 points in the history of the sport and they can both do it today with no problem at all. AJ Porreca has tricked 12,000 points on the money twice, but not over.

Let’s break down the tricks:

Multiple turns:
Smallz has better habits and his turns are cleaner with better technique than KSO, He does a great job of trailing his head and shoulders and staying square. KSO is a little more efficient then Smallz and can usually get a little more in time even though he has a few bad habits that sometimes gets him into trouble.KSO is working hard to clean up some of his bad habits and Smallz is working on trying to become a little more efficient.

Toe Turns:
Here it is KSO who is more compact and solid, while Small’z depends more on his natural talent. Small’z does a lot of upweighting and is loose during his toe turns; and because of that, he also loses precious time. KSO has to learn how to square up in the back position and Small’z is working hard on trying to turn a little more compact– with less body movement.

Line Turns:
Here, they are both rock solid and the best in the business.

So who is the better skier? I am not one to shy away from these questions and I will give you an honest answer. After watching these two great warriors train and compete with each other for the last few years, I will break it down like this: betting on one of these guys over the other is like walking into the casino and laying your chips on either red or black. If you had 100 head to head tournaments between these two, they would both be right around 50 wins each.

Keith St. Onge and David Small are two of the best ever barefoot water skiers– and I will continue to appreciate their greatness. And for my health, I will call it a draw!!

By Swampy Bouchard

RV’ing Our Way to the Barefoot Nationals

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
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The Jones family took to the road from the Midwest to Waco, Texas to experience our first Barefoot Nationals!  After a summer filled with training and dedication to the sport, my dream of skiing at nationals was finally within my reach.  It was not without a great amount of preparation to make this happen.

The five of us plus our dog, “Malibu”, headed out on a sweltering August day on our first RV trip– heading to the even hotter Texas.  We were hyped to spend a week engrossed in our favorite pastime: “barefooting”.    And we were not disappointed!  We traveled 14 hours to and from our destination.  We slept overnight in Wal-Mart parking lots (thanks to a tip from Keith St. Onge).

We ate together, played together, and experienced the scenery together.  The people were nice, the Barefoot Ski Ranch was fabulous, and the entire family had the experience of a lifetime.  The outcome was beyond my expectations both on and off the water!  For this year, the distance is greater, the expectations are higher, and I am excited for the CHALLENGE!

Let the fun begin!

Corey Jones

Videos of the World Barefoot Champions

Monday, January 21st, 2013

David Small

Four-time Open World Champion, David Small is Co-owner of the World Barefoot Center, and one of the greatest barefoot waterskiers on this planet. He is originally from England, now living in Winter Haven, Florida. Dave holds more Overall World Titles than any other skier in the history of the sport, and also had held the Jump and Tricks World Record.

Keith St. Onge

Keith St. Onge, or “KSO”, is one of the most influencial barefoot waterskiers in our sports history and is a legend in the footing community. As part owner of the World Barefoot Center and 2x World Champion with over 20 years experience, Keith has a grasp on the sport few have experienced, and it shows on the water! Keith is the author of Gliding Soles, Lessons from a Life on Water.

St.Onge Law Firm

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

“As an athlete and business man I have come to rely on professional advisors who will give me the hard truths that allow me to make informed decisions to succeed in competition and the marketplace.  When it comes to legal and business counsel, Kevin St.Onge and
his staff at The St.Onge Law Firm live up to their slogan, they are professional problem solvers and an integral part of my winning team.”

http://www.saintongelaw.com/Home_Page.html

Keith St.Onge
Co-owner, World Barefoot Center
2 time World Champion
13 time National Champion

Regina Jaquess & Keith St.Onge Awarded Athletes of the Month for September

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

USA Water Ski has selected Keith St. Onge (Winter Haven, Fla.) and Regina Jaquess (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.) as its Male Athlete of the Month and Female Athlete of the Month, respectively, for September. The U.S. Elite Water Ski Team was selected USA Water Ski’s Team of the Month. St. Onge, Jaquess and the U.S. Elite Water Ski Team are now eligible for the United States Olympic Committee’s Athlete of the Month and Team of the Month honors.

St. Onge won gold medals in Open Men’s slalom (20.2 points) and tricks (11,350 points), and the silver medal in overall (2,846.39 points) at the 18th Barefoot Water Ski World Championships, Aug. 27-Sept. 2, at the Barefoot Ski Ranch in Waco, Texas. He also contributed a team-high 2,728.02 points to the U.S. Elite Barefoot Water Ski Team’s 7,735.47-point total, leading the team to the silver medal at the biennial event.

Sept. Athlete of the Month Keith St.Onge

Jaquess won gold medals in Elite women’s slalom, jumping and overall, and the bronze medal in tricks at the 2012 Malibu Pan American Water Ski Championships, Sept. 12-15, at the Pickos World Ski Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. Her performances – including a Pan American tournament record 4-1/2 buoys at 39-1/2 feet off in slalom – helped lead the U.S. Elite Water Ski Team to the overall team gold medal at the biennial event. Jaquess also won women’s slalom titles at the 2012 Diablo Shores Pro-Am on Sept. 23 in Brentwood, Calif., and at the inaugural Soaked Orlando water sports festival on Sept. 8 in Orlando, Fla.

September Athlete of the Month, Regina Jaquess