Barefoot Waterskiing

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT CELINE VRANCX & CHOOSING TO BAREFOOT WATERSKI

My name is Celine Vrancx. I am a sixteen-year-old girl from Belgium. I started skiing when I was 6 years old. At first I only water skied, but soon I started barefooting. This was mainly due to my dad. I skied my barefoot and three-event nationals. Sometimes I also went abroad for my competitions and internships to improve my skills. But at some point I had to make a decision: barefoot waterskiing or three-event skiing. Obviously I chose barefoot waterskiing.

In 2014, I went for the first time to the World Barefoot Center. I was super shy to talk English. Luckily Google Translate already existed back then. It was awesome! I made many new friends and improved a lot. This was the start of many internships at the World Barefoot Center.

Barefoot waterskiing isn’t a popular sport in Belgium, mainly due to the cold temperatures and the few water surfaces. But my parents gave me all the opportunities to become a better skier; my parents and I go once a year to Florida and we have our own boat on a beautiful lake close to home.

I started skiing the Belgian nationals in 2015 and my first Europeans were in 2017. Last year, I skied the World Championships in Canada for the first time. I felt like the luckiest girl, I met many new people for all over the world. It was an unforgettable experience!

I owe all of these achievements to my parents who always support me and the World Barefoot Center. The coaches really push me through my own limits. I have to work hard for it, but it makes me stronger. I’m proud to be part of this team and to represent the ski school worldwide. Some of them even became my best friends!!

By Celine Vrancx

How I started my barefoot waterskiing career

When I was 10 years old my dad taught me how to waterski, kneeboard and wakeboard. He had taught me everything he knew how to do on the water except how to barefoot waterski. I wasn’t really interested in learning how to barefoot until the day I saw my dad do it. After seeing my dad do it, I wanted to give barefooting a go for myself but my mom was worried about me and did not want me to try it.

A week later my mom went away for a girls trip so my dad and I realized this would be the perfect time for me to give barefoot waterskiing a go. My dad put me on a kneeboard and told me to sit on it with my feet out in front of me and when I gave him the thumbs up he would go fast enough for me to stand on top of the water. The first try as soon as my feet touched the water, I fell. I got back up and tried a second time. This time I road it out for about 5 seconds before falling. I was now determined to get it! I got back on the kneeboard and tried for a third time, I was on my feet and skiing! I barefooted all the way around the lake, it was the coolest feeling ever.

When my mom got home from her trip I told her what I did and she was both freaking out and surprised. The next lake day we had my mom ride in the boat and she took a video of me barefooting and posted it on Facebook. A professional wakeboarder sent my mom a message that there is a barefoot waterski school in Winter Haven called the World Barefoot Center. Next thing I know my mom and I took a trip to have a look around at the WBC Ski School.

(Next Blog: Find out what happened when I visited WBC)

By Jackson Gerard

How barefoot waterskiing has changed my life

Since I was little, my dad has taken me out waterskiing with him and his buddies. After a few years, in the process of growing into the person I am today, I decided I wanted to try water skiing myself. The first time I let my feet glide on the water I was hooked. Barefoot water skiing was new to me and I loved it. I developed more motivation to challenge myself to get better.

I started to participate in Barefoot Waterskiing competitions. At my first Competition, I climbed into the water and got really nervous. As I signaled the boat to go, I stood up! I was beyond happy, riding gracefully in the wake as I was passing the cheering audience. I felt on top of the world, nobody could take this moment and feeling from me. Since this tournament, I haven’t stopped competing, and I have traveled to many more places.

The sport of barefooting has allowed me the fortunate opportunity to see and experience many different places and people. I would have never gone to the places I went or developed relationships with the wonderful people I have met if it weren't for getting involved in barefooting. I have been to competitions, clinics, and just to visit friends all around the US and overseas. It has made me more aware of my surroundings and humbles me when I understand how much more there is outside of my life at home. The more places I go and discover, the more hungry I get to go see and learn more about the world that surrounds me.

It takes hard work and dedication. Some days you feel like you’re the best you can be, and there are some days that feel like you’re stuck in a hole that you cannot dig yourself out of, and there is no possible way you can get better. Like many similar situations in life, you have to walk the valleys to climb the mountains. My journey through waterskiing has taught me that even when you think your at rock bottom, there is always a way to get yourself back to the top, no matter how useless you feel. Understanding that the best moments in life don't come easy and have really brought me back down to earth.

By Alex Youngblood

My First Time to the World Barefoot Center

Thinking of life before barefooting and before coming the World Barefoot Center is something very strange to think about. Everyone in the barefoot community is, at heart, a family member. At the 2012 US Barefoot Nationals, in Waco Texas, my dad put in two bids in a silent auction for a day of skiing at the World Barefoot Center. Him winning those for my sister, Sydney, and myself was a great blessing. We planned a trip down to WBC for the following spring break, with my Aunt Tina.

The following spring break, we made our way down to FL. I was 12 at the time and could only do about 3 tricks; sit-down stand-up, knee ski, and maybe one foots. When we arrived at the school we met everyone, Ben, Dave, Keith, and Swampy and they were all very nice. My Aunt Tina told them what we wanted to work on. My sister wanted to do better one foots and I was really bad at tumble turns so I wanted to get those down good. We went in the boat with Ben and I was only nervous about being sure I could still stand up after the long winter. I thankfully could. I remember that first set with Ben, I worked on sit-down stand-ups and one foots.

The next few days I worked on toe holds on one shoe and backwards. It was a lot of fun because Alex Youngblood was also at the ski school the same time as we were. We played card games and skied together during my first trip.

The first time at the World Barefoot Center is something I will never forget. I was able to meet so many great people from all over the World & made life long friends. My next visit to the World Barefoot Center was for a month in the summer of 2014.

By Lexi McCauley

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