Posts Tagged ‘swampy’

Keith St. Onge on The Water’s Edge

Monday, May 9th, 2011

An old barefooting video of Keith St. Onge, filmed for The Water’s Edge in 1995/1996. There’s a shot of Swampy Bouchard, back when he had hair! Other skiers: Dan “Spray” LeClerc, Sean Farrell, Blaney Blodgett, Peter Brown, Bill Brzoza, and Larry Mageaux.

Featured Footer: Ashleigh Stebbeings

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

When Ashleigh Stebbeings arrived at the World Barefoot Center in January, 2011, she was feeling a bit burned out with barefoot water skiing after ten long years of competition.  The eighteen-year-old first began barefooting when she was eight, and just a year later, she was skiing in the Nationals, representing the Australian Junior Team.

“The first time I put my feet on the water, it was a weird feeling,” Ashley recalled.  “I immediately fell in love with that.”  Within a month, Ashleigh was skiing behind the boat and quickly learned one-foot, tumble turns and handle-in-teeth tricks.    At nine years of age, she was the youngest skier to qualify for the minute badge—skiing backwards.  In 2003, Ashleigh was selected for the Junior team and skied in her first Worlds.  She has skied every World Barefoot Competition since then.   “My greatest achievement took place in 2009—I won slalom, trick and jump—in both the Junior and Open division.  I set a new World record in jump as well,” said Ashleigh.

At the Worlds in Germany, David Small and Swampy Bouchard, approached Ashleigh and invited her to train at the World Barefoot Center.   Ashleigh wasn’t sure what she wanted to do—or if she even had the heart to continue with barefooting.  Back home in Australia, Ashleigh had to drive 40 minutes to her training site, and she found it tiring to continually rearrange her schedule to fit in time on the water.   “I decided to come to the World Barefoot Center to see if I could find the passion again for barefooting,” said Ashleigh.  “I knew that if I couldn’t find it here, then I couldn’t find it anywhere.”


Getting Pumped for the Summer Barefoot Season

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

The World Barefoot Center gang is getting pumped for the summer barefoot season!  Take a look at the fun on the water, including a couple of faceplants and body slams by Keith St. Onge, Adin Denaker, Ashleigh Stebbeings, A.J. Porreca and Ben Groen:

GETTING PUMPED FOR THE SUMMER SEASON from WorldBarefootCenter on Vimeo.

Barefoot Water Skiing Crashes and Faceplants

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

“World Champions are not made overnight.  They have to endure a lot of falls and faceplants to reach success.”

–Coach Swampy Bouchard, World Barefoot Center

Here’s a collection of barefoot crash videos from the World Barefoot Center, featuring some spectacular crashes, falls, tumbles, faceplants and body slams.  You’re guaranteed to cringe:

Barefoot Crashes and Faceplants

Barefooting Crashes

Extreme Barefooting Crashes

Barefooting Crashes and Smashes

The Best Barefoot Crashes

Slips and Trips at WBC

Massive Falls at the WBC Invitational Tournament

Wicked Barefoot Falls

Life at the World Barefoot Center

Friday, April 1st, 2011

What is it like to hang at the World Barefoot Center and receive instruction from the two World Champions?   Here’s a glimpse of life on water with Keith St. Onge and David Small.   (Written by Karen Putz.)

Joann O’Connor and I arrive at the World Barefoot Center early in the morning and meet up with Judy Myers.  Bill Nelson and Gene Burrish arrive.   In the kitchen, the number-one-ranked female, Ashleigh Stebbeings is digging into a bowl of cereal.  World Barefoot Center coach, Swampy, is at the desk in the living room doing some paperwork.  Ben Groen, from New Zealand, is gassing up the boats and getting them ready for the day.

The five of us head out to the dock with Keith St. Onge and we do some stretching exercises to limber up for the day.   We figure out the order of who goes first– I volunteer to go last.  I’m not quite awake yet in the morning.   We toss the gear in the boat and climb in.  Judy Myers puts her head on my shoulder– she’s not quite awake yet either.  Joann looks like she’s full of energy and raring to go.  Gene and Bill look the same way.

It’s not hard to wake up when you see the first skier break out of the water and glide up.  There’s something about barefoot water skiing that fires up that energy inside.  Everyone has a personal trick to work on, and Keith patiently goes through every step.   He’s been teaching since he turned pro at the age of eighteen, but he doesn’t skimp on instruction– he genuinely wants everyone to do their best.  Occasionally, he pulls one of us back in the boat to demonstrate step-by-step what he wants us to improve on.   Every time someone reaches a personal goal or accomplishes a skill they’re working on, the boat explodes in applause.  Keith will toot the horn to cement the victory.  In my case (I am deaf) the participants have learned to wave their hands in the air and sign “awesome.”

Judy and Joann work on their  back toe holds.  Bill works on his back-to-front.  Gene does some front toe-holds.   I battle the elusive backward deep water start.  All througout the morning sets, Keith tweaks our stance on the water and advises us how to improve each trick.  Shoes go on.  Shoes come off.  The long line goes out.  The short line gets rolled up even shorter.  The Headzone helmet goes on, Keith dons the microphone and gives out step-by-step instructions. Slalom, tumble turns, back deeps, toe holds and turns get churned out in two sets each.   We finally head back to the World Barefoot Center for lunch.  We’ve earned it.

In an afternoon with David Small, there are four of us–Joann, Judy, myself and Jean Marie from France.  David’s dogs, Baloo and Charlie join us in the boat.  Jean Marie goes first–he uncovers the tarp from the jump and runs water over it.  Jean Marie has been a solid jumper for years, but today, he’s determined to conquer the inverted style.   David goes over some tips while Jean Marie cinches the helmet.  His first jumps are tentative, but he slowly builds up confidence and begins to invert– and land them.   Applause goes out each time he lands a jump.  I marvel at Small’z’s driving skills as he navigates the boat alongside the ramp, keeping his eye on Jean Marie at the same time.

Charlie and Baloo hop into my lap and proceed to nap.   I watch as Judy and Joann tear up the water with their footin’ skills.  It’s easy to forget that they’re 62 and 68 years old– they look like 21-year-olds on the water.   Joann skis with a fused ankle, but she doesn’t let it stop her from learning new stuff.   Indeed, these two gals push me along, convincing me each time that I can do what they do.  They remind me to be patient each time frustration builds up and they cheer every time I accomplish something new.   David tells me to count to five after I plant.  The elusive back deep water start finally becomes history as I stand up on the water and ride it out.   The throttle goes back at the end of my run and I sink in the water.  The gang in the boat is signing “awesome” as they idle toward me.  It has taken just seven days of instruction with Keith and David to make it happen.  Not bad for a 45-year-old, I say. 

Jean Marie flies through the air on his second set and we rotate on the water yet again before finally calling it a day.  David powers the boat back to the pier as we peel off the wetsuits.  We’ve been on the water through four sets, and we’re tired, but content.   Keith, however, isn’t ready to call it a day.  He is going to head out and do a few jump sets himself.   I stay in the boat while Ben, Ashleigh and Swampy join in.   Ben heads out to the jump.   This is the first time that Keith has jumped in five months, and the first time that I’ve seen him jump– so I’m fascinated as I watch him close up.   The two-time World Champion still gets his jumps tweaked by Swampy between each jump.   There’s always something to change, something to improve on. 

We finally call it a day and it’s time for dinner.  By the time my head crashes on the pillow a few hours later, I’m sore in a few places, but feeling great.  There’s nothing like skimming on the water on bare feet.  At the World Barefoot Center, they make magic happen on water.  I can’t wait to experience it again.

Mind Over Matter in the Boat

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

It’s March 29th and here at the World Barefoot Center we had a very inspirational day out on the water.  We were running two full boats, which were full of complete beginners as well as some of the top skiers in the world.

In the morning, we had a young skier, Kailey Koehler (14 years old), who had been battling her toe up on the long line as well as her turns on the shoe skis.  She went out and tried her toe up without some of her usual equipment that usually helps her and couldn’t accomplish it successfully.

Kailey climbed in the boat and had a chat with David Small about what was going wrong and how most of it was simply due to lack of confidence and commitment.  She changed her attitude, went straight back out, and nailed the very next toe up behind the boat with ease.

On her following sets, she worked on surface turns, where she has a problem with crushing and falling away on a lot of her turns.  Again, she changed her attitude before she went out there, and after doing some visualization and dry land training, she completed her turns with conviction and skied the best she ever had.  Good job Kailey!!!

By: David Small

About WBC

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

The World Barefoot Center is owned by World Champion Barefoot Water Skiers, Keith St. Onge and David Small.

Keith and David grew up on opposite sides of the world. Keith learned to barefoot from Mike Siepel at the age of ten on Lake Umbagog in New Hampshire. He was coached and trained by his cousin, Gary “Swampy” Bouchard and began competing at the age of eleven. David grew up in Great Britain, and began barefoot water skiing when he was twelve.

The two men became intense rivals in 2002, when they battled for the World Championship. David claimed the Overall titles in 2002 and 2004. Keith swiped the Overall in 2006 and 2008. The rivals became business buddies and friends in 2009 with the formation of the World Barefoot Center.

Today, the World Barefoot Center is the premier ski school for barefoot water ski instruction from beginners to professionals of all ages. There are over 30 sponsored skiers on the WBC team who are dedicated to competition and expansion of the sport.

WBC staff includes: Swampy Bouchard, Judy Myers, A. J. Porreca, Ben LaFrance and Ben Groen.

Women’s Barefoot Week 2011

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Women’s Barefoot Week at the World Barefoot Center will take place on October 29th to Nov, 6th 2011.   Space is limited, so be sure to sign up for your spot by calling the World Barefoot Center at 863-877-0039 and ask for the Women’s Barefoot Week Coordinator, Judy Myers.  The week is open to women ages 20 to 100– and all ability levels.  There is a fifteen percent discount on ski rates (no weekend rates charged) and all pro shop purchases.   Skiers can stay at the ski school house, the rental house down the road (complete with a hot tub!) or at local hotels.

“Women’s Barefoot Week is a special week set aside just for the gals,” said Judy.  “Women are the minority in this sport, so it’s nice to have a week to kick back and ski with other women and enjoy some fun on the water together.”

This year, Women’s Barefoot Week will feature a “Ski in Your Costume” challenge on Halloween. 

Keith St. Onge, David Small and Swampy dove into the spirit of Women’s Barefoot week in 2010 by donning pink shirts and skirts for the day.  “We got in touch with our feminine side that week,” joked Keith.  It will be interesting to see what Judy cooks up for the guys at the 2011 Women’s Barefoot Week.  Rumor has it that it just might be dresses this time– and the guys will have to barefoot in ’em!

Women’s Barefoot Week 2010 is featured in the March 2011 issue of Waterski magazine and Tales from the Foot:  A Look Back at  the WBC Women’s Week.   Karen Putz did a write up on the Chicago Tribune Chicago Now blog: Women’s Week at the World Barefoot Center.

Special thanks to the sponsors of Women’s Barefoot Week at the World Barefoot Center:

Coconut Bliss Ice Cream


Vibram Five Finger Barefoot Sport Shoes