Crandon, Wisconsin holds largest barefoot water ski competition in the world

“The thrill of it is the fact that you’re gliding across the top of water with nothing but your bare feet,” said Jon Debelak, the reigning champion in the Footstock Open Division.

Hundreds gathered in Crandon for this year’s Footstock Water Ski Competition. Competitors showed off their water ski talents by riding the wakes with nothing but their bare feet.

“I mean it’s almost like a massage on your feet but I don’t really think about it anymore. The adrenaline really takes over,” said Noah Kinnaman, a competitor at Footstock.

Each run features two competitors facing off behind a boat that makes a figure-eight shape. The name of the game is staying up longer than the person next to you.

Footstock is the largest figure-eight, barefoot water ski competition in the world with 152 entries this year.

“It’s a privilege to be here and I’m just thrilled that I can still do this at my age,” said Paul Elsen, a competitor at Footstock.

The competition brings competitors of all ages from across the country to compete. Participants say that the comradery at these events are some of the best aspects of the sport.

“It just brings us closer together like meeting new people from different states and stuff,” said Sophie Miljevich, the two time women’s champion at Footstock. “It’s just really cool.”

This gives participants the opportunity to not just build friendships but learn from some of the best around the country.

“All of the best of the best will coach you even though they’re going against you,” said Marc Donahue, the Senior Footstock Champion. “As you get better and better, they’ll still continue to coach you. What other sport do they do that? Nobody. Never. Not when you’re their competition.”

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