By Alex Youngblood
More American barefooters are headed to Australia after competing in the 2019 Mike Salber Worlds Qualifier this past weekend at Lake Grew in Polk City, Florida. Athletes from all parts of the country and the world came to compete on the glass calm waters of Central Florida.
The tournament honored the memory of U.S. Barefoot Team member and World Champion Mike Salber. Mike passed on June 2, 2018 racing boats with his son Zane. Mike was an amazing footer, firefighter, father and friend. The Southern Region hopes to make the tournament an annual event.
A brief memorial service was held Saturday morning to honor Mike. His family was presented with a 2009 World Championship warm-up jacket by Willie Farrell and a framed photo of Mike from the Southern Region.
This event was created to give competing athletes another shot to qualify for the World Barefoot Waterski Championships in Sydney, Australia in April 2020. As well as to celebrate the life of fellow footer Mike Salber… and of course, to get in touch with the footing family again. All Footers and Fans were given bracelets inscribed with Mike’s motto: Live at Full Throttle!
It was a beautiful weekend at Lake Grew. The sun was shining all day, the water and air stayed nice and warm, and the wind was non-existent. Five skiers qualified for the World Championships including junior skier Martin Cyr who qualified in the Jump event score of 11.8 meters. Ellis Osborn did the same with a jump score of 12.3 meters. Carter Boerman, another amazing junior skier qualified in the slalom event with a score of 8.8, and in the tricks event with a score of 1600 points!
Amara Bruns at qualified in the slalom event with a score of 3.38… she also qualified in tricks! “Aussie” native Kelly Fill-in-the-Blank put up a great score of 1740 points, qualifying for the World Championships in the tricks event. GIRL POWER!!
Joey Cecutti, Tony Craugh, and John McClelland all enjoyed their first Barefoot Waterski Tournament ever! Jorge Presas arrived from Argentina to compete in his new USA wetsuit and give the Southern Region some love!
The 2019 Mike Salber World Qualifier tournament was an overall success. This competition would not have been possible without all the special people that worked very hard to make it happen.
Big thanks to Betsy Gilman, Ben Groen, Robbie Groen, Ashleigh Stebbeings, Deanna Dean, Char Portman, Mark Shank, Jimmy Tauras, Bruce Walter, Duane Godfrey, Alex Matheny and all of our officials for making the event run efficiently and smoothly.
Massive thanks to Winter Haven Water Sports for donating the pick-up Jet Ski and to the World Barefoot Center for setting up, running and cleaning up the Tournament!