You wouldn't have seen this trick 10 years ago. And if we had found somebody fool enough to try it, one of the footers would have gone home with his head in a gear bag. That's because the inverted jumping technique has only been used by the elite jumpers for the past six years.
Yet even today, with jumpers like Ron Scarpa consistently flying horizontally 10 feet above the water for 80 feet or more, there isn't much time to spare for the footer below, Andy Sable, to make his cut under Scarpa. Try about less than two seconds. So why attempt it?
“Because one of the most challenging things for any skier is to accomplish something, and to be the first one to do it is a real rush,” says Scarpa, who's had his share of barefoot firsts.
“I guess it goes back to show skiing, where a lot of barefoot tricks and acts get their start. During the planning and preparations with Andy [the 1996 Men I national jump champion], we gave a lot of thought to how we could pull it off. Instead of a straight approach, I'd cut out wide then drift back toward the boat, which would give Andy a little more room to make his cut underneath.”
Sable made the most of the space, and after a few hard-charging tries was cutting under Scarpa and raising a hand in the air in celebration of a never-before-seen act of barefoot bravery.