Posts Tagged ‘learning to barefoot’

Life at the World Barefoot Center

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Whether you’re brand new to barefoot water skiing or you’re an expert, we have a spot for you on the boat at the World Barefoot Center!

Here’s a peek inside a typical day at the WBC:

Workouts are optional.

Watching Barefoot Water Skiing for the First Time with my Dad

Monday, June 16th, 2014

My first introduction to Barefoot water skiing was in the late 1960’s when my dad was teaching himself how to barefoot. He was wearing a life jacket and a swim suit. There was no protection for him like we have today. He had a low profile, 18-foot jet boat. He used a slalom ski that he had taken the bindings off of, so that he could step off of the ski easier. I can remember him taking some wicked falls trying to teach himself. This was back when there were very few barefooters and no one around to give pointers to him.

He was very determined to learn, after a good year of stepping out of a ski he was able to do it about 50% of the time. Of course, I know what his main problem was; it was that he skied in too high of a position, which caused him to catch a toe or two, LOL.  I could have told him that back then– if I knew what I know now.

My dad has been battling with cancer for the past 5 years. Now, as the doctors give him no hope or help, we scramble to find a doctor that will treat him and not just let him die with no help.

Jerry “Flipper” Kanawyer

Lexi McCauley: My First Deepwater Start

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

One morning about three years ago, my family and I woke up to ski. Everyone shouted out the rotation. Being the youngest, I got third in the rotation. We all hurried to get the boat ready because we always try to be the first ones on the water. My brother, Zac, was up to ski first. After his set was my sister Sydney, she had an awesome ski. It was my turn so I quickly jumped in and switched the handles. I didn’t know how to deep water start. I had to start using a wakeboard without shoes.

After a couple of short passes, my dad said it was time to give him the wakeboard. The goal my dad told me was to do a deep water start and make it my personal best distance. My mom always gets us a candy bar if we do something new. All I was thinking was deep water start (1 candy bar) and a personal best distance (2 candy bars). I put my toes on the rope, head back, pushed my hips up, stayed stiff and blew air out my noise. My dad started with a nice slow start and told me to get in my three point stance just like the wakeboard. After lightly planting my feet, I was riding my three point stance and skiing down the lake. I was too scared to look forward. My eyes were on my dad. He told me to look forward and suddenly I saw a flock of geese in my ski path. Later he said, he didn’t want to do anything drastic and the geese always fly away. I looked right back at my dad with wide eyes. All the geese swam away except for one. That goose was right in my ski path. I didn’t see it until I came out the front. I held onto the handle not letting go because I was afraid the goose would have hurt me since I hit it.

After the boat slowed down, I looked back and saw the goose swim up to shore. I jumped onto the platform and told my family that I hit a goose and I am done! They laughed at me. My dad told me to complete one more pass. Of course, I did! It was a successful, 2 candy bars day! My Aunt Tina went after me and she didn’t hit a goose. She had a better run than I did, but I had a better story. I couldn’t stop thinking about that goose. I look at geese differently now and my nickname has been Goose since that day.

Lexi McCauley

Joey Tombers: The Importance of Learning Proper Barefooting Techniques

Friday, October 25th, 2013

I am on a show ski team and the conditions for barefooting are not desirable to say the least. When I first joined and was learning how to barefoot I didn’t know I was supposed to be doing it in glass water and I never knew about all of the little things I needed to learn. This first came clear to me when I went to the World Barefoot Center and learned these techniques and tons of other information about the sport. Now when I see new people on my show team try to barefoot I do my best to give them proper conditions and teach them about the techniques.

This really came clear about a year ago, when my friend on my ski team became seriously hurt while barefooting. This was very much avoidable and caused by the lack of knowledge about the sport. Ever since this happened, safety and knowledge have been a bigger part in skiing for me, and I believe they should be stressed more thoroughly if at all possible to beginning skiers.


The best water condition for barefoot water skiing:







The worst water condition for barefoot water skiing:

By: Joey Tombers

Johnathan Martines: How I Started Barefoot Water Skiing

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Whenever I tell someone who has no idea about the sport that I barefoot waterski, the second most common question they ask me is “How did you get started in such a unique sport?” (The first question is regarding whether or not it hurts your feet.) Well, the way I got started in the sport isn’t a magnificent story of seeing it in a ski show and wanting to try it immediately. I was essentially born into the sport.

In the early 1960’s when my grandfather, John Martines Sr., was in high school and college, he would spend his summers water skiing on Crystal Lake in Pennsylvania. As a trick, he would step off a ski and barefoot around the lake. This was all he could do. There were no surface turns or toeholds for him.

When my father was 12, he learned how to barefoot from my grandfather. During his high school and college years, my father competed at a regional and national level. When I was born, going to tournaments took the backseat to raising a family. Even though my father stopped competing for a bit, he still continued to barefoot and waterski.

When I was 7, it was only natural that I started barefooting. My father encouraged me from a young age to start barefooting. I was crazy about the sport for a bit, but I kind of lost interest for a while. I preferred wakeboarding and skate took a trip to boarding over barefooting.

When I was 11 years old, my family took a summer vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. The weekend after the vacation, we drove to Vienna, Maryland, where the Eastern Regionals were being held. I skied that tournament and absolutely loved it! I ended up skiing my first nationals also that year.

Even though I continued to compete, I still didn’t take the sport very seriously. I wasn’t willing to pay the price and make the sacrifices necessary to get good. When I was 14, a change happened in me, I started taking the sport seriously and really loving it. Going skiing was all I could ever think of and I wanted desperately to get good. Now, I’m 16 and that bug hasn’t left me. Words can’t describe how much I love training and competing. There’s no better feeling than accomplishing a goal you have worked so hard towards achieving!

By: Johnathan Martines

Duane Godfrey: Learning the Right Way

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

So, wondering what to write about, I came across a sentence in Carol Jackson’s blog on injury:

When you suffer a traumatic experience with a sports related accident, the episode is imprinted on a primitive part of the brain concerned with self preservation and survival.

Just change “brain” to face and brain and I can tell you about my first, and last for many years, barefoot waterskiing front to back!

My ski experience way back when, was to slalom ski until my lungs and forearms were bursting. Have a few more beers and challenge any driver to dump me off of a tractor tube towed by a super stretch/whippy Kmart waterski rope. Anyway, when completely bagged with bathing suit in tatters, I might top off a day of boat safety with a step off start at 55mph and then just stand there…maybe cross the wake a few times. Throw the handle and flip in. I needed a new challenge. And then… one day on TV and with great astonishment, I saw people barefoot skiing in special suits (likely to prevent bathing suit loss) doing actual turns! Was that possible? I guess so. Well – that’s for me!

So I told my buddies I was going to turn to the back and my instructions were “give me everything and trim that engine as high as it will go without bouncing – I’ll need more speed for this.” Up we go, and yes the engine is rising, the wake is imperceptible, off comes the ski and all is well. Now you see, I would naturally know that in order to barefoot ski you need at least 55 but faster was even better. How did I know this? I am young(er) and knew more about everything than I think I know now. So, I am wise, cool and relaxed…all I need to do is imagine a trick ski turn on a vertical axis and execute. When I get to the back, deal with it. Ok – quick rehearsal…slight down-weight about 2 inches and lead turn with head and shoulders – the body will follow… spot the horizon, keep a near vertical axis and be prepared to ski backwards. I’m cool, here goes…down-weight 2 inches, lead the turn with head and…..

Have you ever careened around a corner and raced up the stairs only to discover that the stairs go down? You might know whilst frozen in midair, that you have time for a complete or half thought like “Uh oh” or “brace for impact”! When you try a trick ski style barefoot turn at 55, no such thought materializes as the sideway impact occurs faster than your synapses fire – or at least if you are blessed
like me and perpetually a few frames behind actuality. As I floated in a lifejacket, that by miracle was still attached, I looked around for a boat obscured by eyebrow and flying chromium bats that were plentiful and splendid indeed; meanwhile asked myself, whatever happened to my daring endeavor?

I think I was looking maybe a bit sideways and have no recollection of the many sideways head/heels cartwheels executed down the lake with rigid body in perfect trick ski stance….for you see, I was still executing the turn though in a different time dimension–wondering where the horizon went. I’m not sure of what grade of concussion I experienced but I knew the performance wasn’t even close. Oh well, the day was young–so I went tubing etc., and decided to put that project, and skiing on bare feet, away for a while.

Dani Tipping wrote an article on a trick that eluded her: Taking some time away allowed a reset of her brain so she could accomplish the trick later in a different mindset. I needed a brief time-out …about 12 years. So, fast forward to 1998 when I first saw a boom and learned a backward start from my awesome friends, Roy and Christine Chidgy. I let out a loud yelp and next time, thought I would rip off a celebratory back to front. Hence commenced the epic saga of how many times you can paste yourself sideways.
That is a whole other story as I instantly engrained the matter of which I shall repeat, what Carol Jackson
said :

When you suffer a traumatic experience with a sports related accident, the episode is imprinted on a primitive part of the brain concerned with self preservation and survival.

No matter what my good intentions were, I could not execute without my subconscious kicking in and aborting the mission. Well, I finally got it in spite of myself then headed to a bonafide ski school for a week learning the basics and nailed the f-b on the 3rd attempt following a solid lead-in. What a feeling! Later, got the rev f-b 1st try but am still fighting with the rev b-f. Why you ask? Because I learned the basic b-f incorrectly. On the f-b, I learned the trick after a considerable time-out and executed the trick under professional guidance with a clean slate.

I came to understand the following by learning from professionals–strive to learn a maneuver the correct way from the outset, and then, only when you are prepared to accomplish that trick, do so following a solid pre-preparation of engrained basics. Seeing a young man like Chandler Cargile execute his first turn, through doing exactly what he is TAUGHT, is great motivation for me and solidifies the right and wrong ways to learn this wonderful sport. Do this–learn from the pros, and Bob’s your Uncle!

By: Duane Godfrey

Where does “Bob’s Your Uncle” come from?

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

Carol Jackson: My First Impressions of Barefoot Water Skiing

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

I was on vacation at a hotel on Lake Jackson in Sebring with my family and friends. We had a fish and ski boat at the time which we slalomed and tricked behind. Another family pulled up to the beach with a brand new Nautique. “Wow, what a ski boat!” we thought.

The next morning, we saw a few guys load up in the Nautique and off they went bare footing on the boom. My husband, Tom was intrigued– he always wanted to learn. We began talking to the footers upon their return to the beach. They were more than willing to teach  Tom to barefoot. I went along for the ride.

The two brothers one who owned the boat went first.He acted like he was going off to war! He grunted and groaned and stretched, finally getting in the water, with his brother egging him on. He took a few runs and got back in the boat looking exhausted. The other brother jumped in and showed off some tumble turns and one foots. Ooh, I thought, he must be good.

My husband took a turn . He was able to get up after tumbling around a few times. He was pumped! Then they suggested I take a turn. How hard could it be? I agreed to try. They gave me their daughter’s suit . “Swing yourself around and set your feet in gently,” they said. During my first attempts, I rode on my back with my feet facing the sky. I knew I had to tweak my technique because the “dead cockroach” position was not working for me.

On the next try, I thought, “This it I am just going to stand up!” I slammed my feet into the water. At this point, I became “Rocket Girl.” I was airborne, my scrunchie took flight from my pony tail and soared thru the air.

I was in the air long enough to think, this landing is not going to be good.  Crash, flip,flip, flip, upside down , under the water, just hoping to surface in one piece! I took a breath and made sure all my limbs were attached and moving. The boat came back to me . They looked relieved when I said I was okay, especially Tom.

That was enough of that, those guys were trying to kill me. They had to be going 40 MPH. I was glad to go back to my bass boat and strap on a slalom ski. I did not attempt to barefoot again until two years later.

Carol Jackson

Footin’ With Waterhawks Show Team Day 4

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Waterhawks day 4

Kat Peterson started us off for the day.  Kat worked on her deepwater starts with her main goal to make them behind the boat. From the 5ft line to the 10ft, next step is the long line!  We hope to see you at Women’s Barefoot Week down in Florida!

Controlling the Ride- Kat Peterson

Three Point Stance- Kat Peterson

Woo Hoooo Nice Job Kat!

Sam Hartmann had his mind set on learning this backdeep.  A couple years ago he had given it a few goes and now he has the barefooting bug!

Alex Starting to come up!

Alex Ready for a Backdeep!

Brother of Sam, Alex Hartmann also came out footing for the day.  Sam’s goal was to learn a deepwater start.  In just one day Sam went from the boom to shortline! Way to go brother!

Barefooting on the Boom - SamShortline!-Sam

Nick Sammerhays worked hard and it paid off!  Nick went from never ever trying barefooting before and he got up on his feet the first day!  An a total bonus Nick got up on the shoe skis on the shortline! Way to go!

BareFEET!- Nick Sammerhays

Jordan Kintzle learned everything FAST!  Jordan surprised us with quickly learning to get up on the shoe skis backwards and then later the same afternoon getting up on his feet! Keep it going Jordan!

Shoe Skiing Backwards- Jordan

Backwards Barefooting!- Jordan

By Keith St. Onge and Lauren Lindeman

Waterhawks Whip it up!

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Waterhawk Show Ski Team!

We arrived a day before the clinic began at the Waterhawks ski site near Waterloo, IA.  After we set up the Anytime Fitness National Barefoot Tour Bus up lake side we decided to do some skiing.  John Bunge brought his boat to give us a few pulls on Eagle Lake.  The conditions of this private lake are fantastic.  Later on in the afternoon John informed us that NBC Channel 7 News would be coming out to do a piece on the tour! Checkout the video footage. Click here for video.

Keith St. Onge NBC News

Barefooting gets on TV!

The Waterhawks were happy to have us and since they were missing some skiers, we volunteered and jumped right into show practice.  The next night was the big show for the 4th of July weekend! Wowie the weather forecast was calling for 96 degrees with the heat index of 105 degrees!  With that in mind the clinic started early in the morning to beat the heat. Check out this boat crew!

The only female in the boat Kate Worthington.  Kate had been having some problems in the ski show doing her beach start.  After a few tips and things to think about Kate cleaned up her start and stance.  Now Kate will be confident in her beach start!  Cheer her on the next show!

Austin Walstad from MN came down to ski for the whole day.  Austin’s goal is to be able to take his senior pictures in a couple years, doing a back toe hold.  Keeping that goal in mind Austin worked the basics of he back one foots on he feet and he accomplished both back toe holds on shoe skis!

Back Toe Hold-Austin

A local Tim Schell had barefooted a tiny bit before the clinic.  It was a rough road but once Tim got the hang of it he was barefooting on the five foot handle no problem.  Tim even learned a few tumble turns!

Smooth Deepwater Start! -Tim

Way to go Tim!

Tim’s father Vince Schell joined us for the afternoon session.  Vince had skied on the boom a few times in the past but had not gone any further in his barefooting.  Today Vince learned how to do a front deepwater start and tumble turns!

A Controlled Glide- Vince

Three Point Position-Vince

Yay Vince!

Garrett Bunge was on a roll today!  Before today he had only done one deepwater start behind the boat and he completed 10+ without a hitch! Sweet dude! To top it off Garrett went in the pre show and did his deepwater and skied through the show course!

No Skis Needed!- Garrett

Rocking it out!-Garrett

Skyler Woods is in the barefoot line for the Waterhawks.  Now there will be no need for a ski to step off of, Skyler can do deepwater starts! Skyler added a few tricks to his runs, a toe hold on shoe skis and busted out a few tumble turns. Ya!

Deepwater Start- Skyler

A Lil' Wave From Skyler!

All it all it was a great day, everyone learned something new and more importantly had FUN!

The Amazing HeadZone Helmet- Waterproof Communication

Cooling Off

Thank you Skiers!

By: Keith St. Onge and Lauren Lindeman