Crandon, Wisconsin – It just may be the craziest competition on water. Footstock brings hundreds of skiers from around the country to a tiny lake in Crandon, Wisconsin, to compete in what is considered one of the most brutally painful tournaments in water skiing.
The popular endurance barefooting championship pits barefooter against barefooter at the same time behind the same boat to see who can barefoot the farthest at 42 mph. Last year’s feat-searing Open Final went a record 5-1/4 laps over the famed mile and half Peshtigo Lake Figure Eight course. And this year is shaping up to be more of the same.
Returning to Crandon will be defending Footstock champ, Marc Donahue, World Overall Barefoot Champion Keith St. Onge, 4-time champ and last year’s runner up, Pete Fleck, along with former champion Chris Van Zeeland. Perennial Top 10 Endurance specialists, Luke Bruckner, Josh Bruns, Jon DeBelak, Bob Mahnke, Dan Ehlers and Jeremy Petrie round out the steller Open field.
The two-day national championship features over 140 barefooters from 12 states. With five divisions of barefooters competing for over $6,000 in prize money, including; Open, Womens, Juniors and Seniors. With the growing number of seniors, a new Master’s division was added to Footstock to accommodate the growth in skiers over the age of 50.
“If we have good water, we’re going to have even more records drop this year,” predicts Tournament Organizer, James Weber. “It’s the most prestigious championship in Endurance barefooting. And there are a lot of guys that want it bad.”
The famed mile and a half “Peshtigo Eight” is considered the toughest Figure Eight course in the world. Tight corners, punishing boat waves and big winds can wreak havoc on the competition that is best suited for calm water.
One of the most controversial rule changes to this year’s event will be allowing skiers to use duct tape to protect the bottom of their feet. The rule change, which has been happening at smaller endurance tournaments, is in response to the growing number of competitors suffering severe burning of their feet due to the increasingly long runs. Last year’s runner-up Pete Fleck actually burned holes in his feet as a result of barefooting over 30 figure eights over the two day competition.
“We know that purists of the sport won’t like the allowance for using duct tape, but it is being added in the best interest of protecting skier’s health,“ notes, Tournament Co-Founder, Gary Mueller. “20 years ago we never envisioned competitors doing even two eights. Foot safety was never a concern. Now, it’s time to step in and make the kind of changes that will protect the top barefooters’ livelihoods.”
For people interested in watching Footstock, it is open to the public. Free practice for competitors, starts Friday at 3:00 and runs until 5 pm. Pre-registration and packet pickup for skiers run from 3 to 6 pm at the site.
Registration end at 8:30 am Saturday, August 20. The competition starts at 9:30 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m. On Sunday, August 21, skiing starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m. For more about the National Figure Eight Barefoot Championships, visit footstock2011.com or call 608-732-5306.