By Alex Youngblood
The 2020 Barefoot Season is off and running! The Southern Region of the American Barefoot Club hosted the 2019 MLK Barefoot Tournament this past weekend at Lake Grew in Polk City, Florida. This competition gave footers another chance to qualify for big competitions up ahead this year.
The tournament moved quickly thanks to the leadership of Chief Judge Ashleigh Stebbeings who actually took over driver duties in the early morning. Safety Director and Lakeland Water Ski Club Legend H. Fry hopped on the pick up jet ski and we were off and running. The ten competitors enjoyed very calm water all morning.
World Barefoot Center Sponsored Skier Cole Stellmacher put up a trick score of 1540 and an 8.8 in Slalom qualifying him for the 2020 Junior Barefoot World Championships in Sydney Australia!
And on the women’s side, Kelly Blank scored a 10.2 in slalom, boosting her into the Open Women’s division, which she will be competing against the best of the best at the Australian Nationals at the end of January!
Ashleigh Stebbeings took a break from driving to set the water on fire in the slalom event, setting a pending world record of 18.2 (current record of 17.2 held by Ashleigh Stebbeings).
Also, ABC President Betsy Gilman skied for the first time after taking time off due to a shoulder injury and her arm stayed in the socket! So she had that going for her… which is nice.
After skiing, everyone sat down and had a big pizza lunch and did some socializing at Lake Grew.
The 2020 MLK Qualifier tournament was an awesome tournament with many goals achieved. 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, Ashleigh Stebbeings, Kelly Blank, Bruce Walter and the Bumblebee Sanger, H. Fry and all of our officials for making the event run efficient and smooth.
Eric Coryer of Team Gray donated $100 towards the lake rental fee, The World Barefoot Center donated gas, Winter Haven Water Sports donated the Jet Ski, the ABC President donated lunch, and H. Fry donated his time and even bought some t-shirts!
Thank you to the skiers that made it the best it could be, and CONGRATS!!
There is at least one barefoot tournament a month in 2020… check out the tournament schedule and make plans to attend or ski at one barefoot tournament this year!