We at footin.com are gearing up to head to Crandon, WI next weekend, from Friday, August 24th to Sunday, August 26th, to attend and cover Footstock, dubbed by former Water Ski Magazine as “America’s Craziest Barefoot Tournament” AND the “Ultimate Barefoot Competition.” We couldn’t be more pumped.
For those of you who may not know much about this legendary endurance figure-eight tournament, Footstock got its start back in the 1970’s with 30 local skiers, but it quickly developed a cult following. By the mid 80’s, it had to move to a larger lake, and by the early 90’s, over 150 skiers from all over the world signed up to compete amidst hundreds of enthusiastic spectators. The tournament has garnered national coverage, and lures athletes from as far away as Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and more.
So, what’s the hype? Well, it states in the official rules that there is NO distinction between professional and amateur skiers. That means a completely unknown athlete could enter and win the tournament, as was the case in 2009 when Ron Blouw from Grand Rapids, MI defeated 19x national, 14x world barefoot water-skiing champion, Keith St. Onge, in the open division. Endurance barefoot waterskiing is a challenge in and of itself. At speeds of up to 42 m.p.h., the water can literally bruise or burn holes in your feet. Add the characteristically wavy water common on the lakes of beautiful Crandon, WI, and the tight turns inherent in a figure-eight tournament, and you’ve got yourself a competition that proves immensely challenging even to the most talented, fierce, and experienced footer . . . and we’re not even getting to the part where they shoot at the competing skiers with paintballs.
That’s right. Paintballs. Footstock didn’t get the title of “America’s craziest barefoot tournament” for nothing. Skiers as paintball targets aside, no other event encompasses the giddiness, the thrill of the adrenaline rush, or the infectious sense of humor inherent in the barefoot community quite like Footstock does. From the outrageous costume contest among competing barefooters on the water, to the infamous leach-eating contest (we MAY skip that one), to handing out pink t-shirts to all the guys at the tournament who have had their asses handed to them on the water . . . by a girl— there’s plenty of entertainment. Heck, they even titled one of the divisions in the tournament the “Bromance” division. This is quality spectator viewing at its finest.
If you’re not busy next weekend, come out and join us to watch this epic tournament. Leach eating optional.