Photo Credit: Outdoorsports.com
The name Keith St. Onge may not ring any bells for you. But, to those in the water skiing community, and those select few daredevils in the barefoot water skiing world, Keith’s name is one they’ve heard many times. Keith is the only legendary skier to win all three components of the barefoot competition at the world championship level. His love for barefoot waterskiing started at an age when most kids are still becoming competent using their legs, on or off the water. As far back as his family and friends can remember, Keith has had an undeniable love for the water. His passion for the waterskiing life has never diminished and Keith now owns a prominent water ski school where he helps train others to become champions in this very extreme sport.
Barefoot waterskiing first emerged as an independent sport in the late 1940s. It quickly became more and more prominent and soon this, once fringe sport, became more popularized at the world level. In order to take part in this sport, riders hold onto handle bars that are attached to a boat far in front of them. The bars are connected via a lightweight cable that allows the rider to move freely behind the boat, from side to side. As compared with traditional water skiing, barefoot skiers must travel at significantly faster speeds. Because a barefoot waterskier is effectively walking on water, a careful equation but be followed to assure that the skier has enough speed to float atop the surface rather than sink below it. This is part of what makes this sport considerably more dangerous than traditional water skiing. In many parts of the world, skiers are required to wear padded wetsuits as well as sturdy helmets to help offset the clear danger of riding in this pashion.
Once a skier is finally up and cruising along the surface, they have several opportunities to complete death defying feats. This trick portion of the barefoot competition allows for several opportunities for riders to pass across the wake of the boat in front of them and catapult into the air for meter-long jumps. The only barefoot water skier to ever have won all three portions of the world championship is Keith St. Onge. In face, many of the tricks now commonly associated with the sport were first completed by Keith himself. Not only has Keith always been a trailblazer in this arena, but now he is sharing his passion with younger riders that his very own performance has helped to breed passion in.