Posts Tagged ‘ron scarpa’

Barefooting with the Legends

Monday, August 25th, 2014

On October 25th, an amazing event called “Legends.” This unique USA Waterski Foundation fundraiser allows the everyday skier to rub shoulders with the greatest water skiers of all time – the skiers who have shaped the sport into what it is today.

“Legends” is in its fourth year, but due to its incredible success with raising money for the USA Waterski Foundation, it has expanded this year to include barefooting and LD jumping for the first time.

The barefoot legends who are attending the event so far are Ron Scarpa, Mike Seipel, Peter Fleck, and John Gillette (who literally wrote the book on barefooting!). I have invited several other legends as well, so I will update you with the legend attendees as the event draws closer.

Here is how the barefoot event will run: On Saturday, October 25th barefooters who purchase a skier package will meet at WBC at 7:00am for registration, and will be on the water at 8:00am. Ron Scarpa and Mike Seipel are the instructors for the day, and each skier will spend half the day with both of them. In other words, if you ski with Mike in the morning, you will ski with Ron in the afternoon, and vice versa. Your morning and afternoon sets will be broken up with a lunch that will be provided at the WBC. The lunch kicks off what we are calling the “WBC Beach Party” because it is here that the other legends and people who purchase a non-skier package will congregate for the afternoon. The lunch/beach party will be a fun reunion for the legends and a great opportunity for skiers to meet and hang out with some legendary barefooters! At the end of the day, the barefooters will come together with the slalom skiers and LD jumpers for an awards banquet and dinner at the Fantasy of Flight.

For the record, “Legends” is an entire weekend filled with fun activities you can attend. On Friday night and Sunday afternoon there are activities taking place at the USA Waterski Headquarters….but for simplicity I will not explain them here.

Contact Teri Larson at the World Barefoot Center at (863) 877-0039 or check out the USA Waterski Foundation website to register or for more details.

Anyone who is participating in the “Legends” event has a few options to choose from. You can choose a skier package, non-skier package, Saturday banquet only, or you can donate auction items. The skier package includes access to allwater and land events being held from October 24th to 26th, a goodie bag, a tour of the Hall of Fame, and of course…a day of skiing with Mike and Ron.

WE HAVE 10 SPOTS FOR SKIERS…so get on it quickly if you want to ski! A non-skier package can be just as much fun as the skier package. Non-skier packages include a tour of the Hall of Fame, entry into the WBC beach party on Saturday, and admission to the Saturday night banquet. Tickets for the Saturday night banquet are also available. The USA Waterski foundation is also looking for silent auction items that people can bid on at the Saturday night banquet.

The USA Waterski foundation a subsidiary of USA Waterski that is responsible for funding the Waterski Hall of Fame and all of the waterski scholarships that are awarded to athletes every year. All proceeds for this event are
donated to the USA Waterski foundation. Therefore, “Legends” is a great event for a great cause. You won’t want to miss it! Register online ASAP to secure your spot!

Click here to register your spot in the boat!

Teri Larson

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.

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

Keith St.Onge “TIES” Ron Scarpa’s National Overall Titles

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Read about Keith St.Onge in the local news.  Just click on The Ledger link below.

www.THELEDGER.com

Breaking Ron Scarpa’s record of National Overall titles has been a dream of mine since he retired in 2005.  I had beaten Ron Scarpa at six Nationals before his retirement and I never thought the record could be broken until I received my seventh National Overall Title.  I would have to win seven more titles and I had a few tough competitors like Lane Bowers and AJ Porreca.  Lane Bowers was showing sings of retiring and his strong event was jumping, which was my weakest event and that put me in a bad position for the Overall.  I was able to hold off Lane in the 2006 Nationals but it wasn’t an easy one…”he kept me honest!”  is the least I can say.

Keith St.Onge & Lane Bowers

L-R, Keith St.Onge & Lane "Dawg" Bowers competing against each other many years prior.

AJ Porreca was a young man climbing the ladder quickly in the sport with the help of my coach Swampy and I.  He was showing signs of being the next US super star!  He was skiing so good and I was being pressured not to make one little mistake!  Otherwise, he would slide in for the Overall Title.  Granted, he still had a lot to learn but again, I was being kept honest.

AJ Porreca the 2012 Open Pro Trick Champion, left - Keith St.Onge

2010 was a breakout year for AJ and he became the forth person in history to score over 11,000 points.  He stood up incredible trick runs at the 2010 Nationals again putting pressure on me.  He came runner up to me in the tricks event.

In 2011 he again put a great score on the board.  In 2012 he skied great in choppy water conditions.  He skied about 7,500 points from what we gathered before my run.  I knew what I needed to beat him and fell about 3/4 of the way through my first pass.  Coming back I was bouncing all over and thought how in the heck am I going to beat him?  I needed at least two back to back 360’s and two 720 back to backs.  I got through my 360’s miraculously and now it was time to pray for the next two tricks.  I started my first 720 and instantly caught sideways.  I knew AJ had beaten me in tricks for the first time in his career.  I was happy for him and taking second place to him was an honor.  When he received his first place medal he got a standing ovation!

All I could concentrate on was landing a jump to secure my 13th Overall Title, which would tie Ron Scarpa.  I was able to land my first jump to secure the title but winning these titles has not been an easy task.

As my body gets older and my mind becomes wise I can’t wait to surpass the legends record of 13 Overall National Titles.  Everyone keeps asking me how many more Nationals will I be skiing in the future but all I can think about is winning one at a time for now.  One more will break the record and that’s what I’ll focus on.

By: Keith St.Onge

Featured Footer: Dave Miller

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Back in 1996, Dave Miller was a die-hard slalom skier. His journey into barefooting began when a friend showed up with a barefoot wetsuit. Neither of them had ever seen one before. It took Dave a good three months of beating himself up on the water before he was able to successfully glide on his feet behind a slalom boat.

Shortly after that, Dave took a job with GEICO as a corporate pilot and his route took him on regular trips to Florida. “That’s when I was introduced to Ron Scarpa,” said Dave. “I came to his ski school and advanced so quickly in one day–I knew it was my calling.” Dave spent his formative years skiing with Ron on a regular basis. When he was starting out, Dave knew his limitations and was careful to progress with tricks to avoid injuries. “I knew if I injured myself, I couldn’t do my regular job,” he explained. “I tried to stay with tricks where I wouldn’t injure myself.”

But for Dave, advancing to higher level tricks proved to be easy for him. He found that he had a natural talent for surface turns, on one foot and two. In fact, the most challenging experience for him was learning the back deep behind the boat. When he began competing in tournaments, he did a front to back to enable him to do backward tricks and back wakes. As he advanced with skills, he added jumping to the mix. It was not something he was comfortable with but he had to include it to compete at the higher level. “I was scared I would get hurt,” Dave recalled. “And if I get hurt and can’t fly an airplane, then I can’t do my job. I didn’t want that. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t be a pilot.”

Six years after he first put his feet on the water, Dave competed in the Senior Barefoot Worlds in 2003 where he slalomed 14.2 and tricked 2950. This was by far his favorite tournament, and an exciting time for him to ski in the worlds. The following spring, Dave racked up his first major injury. He was in the middle of completing a reverse front-to-front 360 when his leg twisted and hyper-extended. He felt a pop and a sensation similar to a rubberband snapping. He knew right then and there something was wrong. “I detached my hamstring,” said Dave. “The hamstring basically exploded where it attaches to the bone.”

Dave continued to compete in a tournament in June 2004 at the urging of friends, but he found himself holding back on the water. He wasn’t able to ski at the level he was used to. Suddenly, his interest in competition fell flat. He had hit a wall. “I realized I was done,” said Dave. “I wanted to quit at that time. I realized I was not immortal.” Dave took the injury as a sign and put competition on hold. He continued to barefoot for fun and take lessons at Scarpa’s. Every year, he volunteered at tournaments working as a Senior Driver. When 2006 rolled around, life became busy and Dave turned away from the tournament scene completely.

At the Eastern Regionals in 2010, Dave felt the old, familiar itch to compete. He missed his friends from the barefoot community. He missed competing. But he didn’t share it publicly. Only his wife knew of his plans. Very quietly, he continued to work on his skills at Scarpa’s and dreamed of a comeback before facing his 50th birthday. He had plans to ski in the Eastern Regionals and the Nationals, but on Memorial Day 2011, he hurt his shoulder in the middle of a one-foot turn. Just like that, his dreams for a comeback were put on hold while he recovered from shoulder surgery.

In December, 2011, Dave got back on the water, this time at the World Barefoot Center. “I’ve known Keith and David for many years and I knew the way they taught barefooting,” said Dave. “With Ron Scarpa Water Sports going out of business, the World Barefoot Center was the best place in the world to go to improve my skills, to learn what I wanted to learn and to be pushed the way I wanted to be pushed.” Dave wanted to learn how to compete at the same level as the top skiers do.

Dave had to learn to kick his skiing up another notch on the water. There were some days he faced hurdles, and other days he soared. He recently had two frustrating days in a row as he went back to the fundamentals on his basic back to front. “All of my basic foundations have to be very strong but that’s my weakest right now,” Dave explained. “I’m working to do it the way they want it. I understand their system and I’ve seen it work with the team– they’ve all improved by following the program. I have to get this turn correct so I can move forward with my plan.”  He recently completed his first reverse back-to-front on one foot.

Dave is aiming big and wants to qualify to ski in the Worlds yet again.  He’d like to surpass his personal best, 3850 in tricks and 15.6 in slalom.  But there will be no more jumping in his future– he says he’s done with that.  “I love barefooting and being out on the boat. I love the feel my feet gliding on the water,” said Dave.  “I love being able to do something so unique and special that not everybody can do.   And the friendships, the people I’ve met, are the nicest in the world.”

Written by: Karen Putz

Winter Haven lock opens which gives the WBC 24 lakes to choose from…

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

The World Barefoot Center runs the biggest and best Barefoot Waterski school in the water ski capital of the world…… Winter Haven, Florida. The ski school primarily runs on Lake Conine, Rochelle, Smart and Haines but with Lane Bowers staying on the south lakes of Winter Haven and Paul MacDonald of Ron Scarpa Watersports going out of business this has opened up more lakes for us to use. The city of Winter Haven has 45 fresh water lakes with 24 of them connected together by canals for very easy access between the chain of lakes. As the WBC is located on the chain of lakes there is no trailer needed and we now have access to the full 24 lakes with the help of the new lock system that has been built.

Rocking up to the lock

Driving in to the lock

The lock filling up

Leaving the lock

This lock system has being in the plans for a while but now that it is completed we can simply drive the boats up to it, press a button and drive in, press another and one side closes, the lock fills up and we are through to the main chain. If the mood takes us we can even take a little trip through the lakes down to Lego Land and watch their ski show from the tire wall out on lake Eloise. Having all of these lakes at our disposal, together with the top 4 ranked skiers in the World working at the school, the best Barefoot boats, BI towers, fly highs and booms and a boat full of shoe skis and US gear handles and lines we are a force to be reckoned with.

Going through to some new lakes

Written by David Small

Small’z

HeadZone Helmets, Communication in the Water Ski World.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

BEND YOUR KNEES!  ARMS STRAIGHT!  EYES UP!  That’s me, Keith St.Onge yelling at my students from the boat four years ago.   I had to yell at the top of my lungs to get my students attention and quite frankly I was fed up with it.  Most times the skier could not hear me and if they did, I was more of a distraction then an instructor.  It felt like I was scolding these barefoot skiers and possibly scaring them at the same time.  I then developed my own sign language to communicate but half the time they would only catch a portion of my symbol.  Simply too many distractions!  “How can my dream job be such a nightmare?” I would say.
Jackie St.Onge

I met Mark Ellis, president of HeadZone four years ago and he has changed my life for the better…forever!  I used the HeadZone communication device when they first hit the market and instantly fell in love with the product.  I can now use this system to easily communicate with my clients while they are performing the maneuvers they want to learn.  I simply talk into the microphone, which sends my instruction through the helmet.  The student does not have to look at me or try to figure out my sign language.  I like to explain this situation as a “Reaction.”  The student reacts to my instruction instead of having to think about what do to.  Many of my clients tell me “It seems like you’re in my head.” Haha, I laugh and say, “That’s because I am!”

With HeadZone I can cut the learning curve in half and accomplish in one run, what use to take three to eight runs.  Not only that but my students do not take unnecessary falls.  I’m able to critique their position before something bad happens and beginners learn instantly because of my ability to response quickly.

You might be asking what type of water resistance this helmet may have?  HeadZone is fully waterproof and can withstand all impacts on the water.  Many times it helps break a fall with less impact being diverted from the head.  The helmet molds tightly to the skull and does not catch or bucket the water.

We are proud to be affiliated with HeadZone and take pride in using this product at the World Barfoot Center!  Come down to sunny, Winter Haven, Florida and allow us to guide you from all levels of barefoot skiing.  The future has arrived and we are embracing it…you should too!

By: Keith St.Onge, 2x World Champion, 11x National Champion

GEAR REVIEW – HEADZONE HELMET from WorldBarefootCenter on Vimeo.