Posts Tagged ‘what to expect at the world barefoot center’

What to Expect When Visiting the World Barefoot Center

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

What can you expect when visiting the World Barefoot Center Ski School?

There is a good chance you will be greeted by smiling faces and a few licks from our furry, friendly dogs of course.  Boats, trailers, and cars will fill the driveway, no worries go ahead and park in the grass, everybody is doing it.

Wetsuits, padded shorts, heater shirts, and swimsuits will lined up hanging on the side of the carport.  Under the dripping we ski equipment are gas cans, lots of them.  Take a sharp right and you will see our Bunk house/laundry room.  Some students stay for a few nights and other months/years.  Continuing on into the screened in porch through the sliding glass door you have now arrived into the ski school house!

Go ahead and add your flip-flops to the massive pile.  If a boat crew isn’t out on the water, there is a good chance a group is in the living room watching video from that morning/evening/ day before critiquing the technique and talking about ways to perfect it.

If Swampy is around he will not be afraid to chime in and give his two cents.  Haha.  Swampy has been around this sport a long time; advice from him is nothing you want to ignore.

Moving along you can admire the humongous WBC logo that is painted on the wall.  A painting of Keith St. Onge and David Small barefooting fill up the rest of the wall.  Lining the ceiling is a band of flags from all over the world.  Skiers like to see their home county flag hanging at the ski school.  The best part of the house in my personal opinion is the signature wall.  Wowie it is getting full!  Over the last 3 years we have had every skier at WBC sign the wall.  We have young, old, first timers, professionals, and everything in-between.

Magazine covers, medals, photos and other memorabilia are spread out throughout the house, giving it a true ski school vibe. It is quite a sight to see.

Heading outside once again just a short walk across the lawn you will find the Pro Shop.  More medals and trophies glisten in the room.  The aroma of neoprene fills the air.  Circle racks filled with brand new barefoot suits, a variety of colors, styles, sizes.  T-shirts flourish in the display cubes, stickers, books, jewelry, ropes handles hats and anything else a barefooter wants is in the Pro Shop.

Step out into the sunlight and take a walk down the dock to see the beautiful Lake Conine.  The boat will be at the dock waiting to be used or buzzing down the shoreline with skiers learning new things.

Come and see for yourself! Take a ski or just visit us and say hello all are welcome at the World Barefoot Center.

Lauren St. Onge

Five Days at the World Barefoot Center

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

It’s fall in East Tennessee, the leaves are turning, football and hunting are the biggest things happening–and that’s when the talk starts.

The drysuits come out of the closets, the mornings are foggy and the water is getting colder. FLORIDA. Somebody always brings it up. Who is in for a spring trip to Winter Haven and the World Barefoot Center? We settle on dates and make plane, car, room and school reservations.

As our season winds down, the leaves are off the trees, snow begins to fall and it seems as if that trip is the only thing that gets you through the winter. The anticipation of the sun and warm water, with nothing else to do for a week but ski–those thoughts will keep you up on a long winter night. Planning what you will work on, the tricks and new skills you will come away with. You fly into Orlando, but the rental car full of your best friends in the world never even slows down when you pass the Big Mouse House on Interstate Four. We are going to train at the World Center for barefoot skiing in Winter Haven Florida–we got no time for Mickey Mouse or Donald and Goofy.

This is serious training and we are completely focused. The first day, everyone usually skis well, we are fresh and eager to learn. Keith St. Onge is always glad to see us. The first half of the day, he catches up on all that has happened to us in the year since we were here last. We work on technique and new skills. After lunch we try our newly learned skills as if to impress KSO with our ability and to prove we were listening to the World Champion the first part of the day. We are sure he is impressed with our abilities, if not, at least our determination.

The second day, it’s a little harder to get out of bed. Muscles are a little sore, old injuries start to resurface, but after a warm up run, it’s back to learning new stuff. After lunch the second day, there is a little less enthusiasm getting back in the boat, there are some mild confrontations over who’s next and no more volunteers. End of the second day, dinner comes and we eat like we have never eaten before.

The morning of the third day is what separates barefooters from the rest of the world of water sports. Neck is so sore you have to roll out of bed, the water in the shower is not hot enough to ease the pain and soreness out of your muscles but it stings your sunburned skin. But still, there is no place in the world you would rather be. The third day is a day of breakthroughs or break downs. Feet are sore, and your body just doesn’t respond like you think it should and it’s still the best kind of sore you have ever been.

Day four you showcase a little more of your newly found skills the pride in you begins to build and it seems as if you have been doing this your whole life. You ignore the pain, because as David Small always says, it is only weakness leaving your body. The arguments over who has to ski next get a little longer and a little more heated, yet still these are the best days of your life.

By the fifth day you and your body are in a complete revolution against each other. Your spirit and mind are saying this is your last day of skiing go out there and go big or go home, lay it all on the line. Your body, on the other hand, says even Superman has his limits– I quit. This is probably the funnest day for Keith St. Onge– he always seems to enjoy watching us take a whole pass just to tumble up because our abs no longer work, we have given it our all.

Hugs and handshakes at the end of the last day, the Ibuprofen bottle rattles throughout the night. The plane ride home ends with the touchdown of landing gear in Knoxville, waking you up from sleeping with your mouth open for the last hour. Just for fun in baggage claim, I say “Tomorrow is Saturday, boat dock at 7:30?”. With a huge grin on my face, they are too sore to find the humor in it, but it makes me laugh.

Wade Masters