Last Chance Worlds Qualifier Tournament heats up a January Weekend at Lake Grew

By Faith Dix

Another couple of glassy mornings at Lake Grew with perfectly clear skies all day both days. The Last Chance Worlds Qualifier Tournament on January 7th & 8th truly was the last chance for any skier hoping to ski in the 2023 World Barefoot Tournament this February.

The qualifying period ends four weeks prior to the upcoming IWWF Barefoot World Championships. The World Championships are to commence on February 12th in Mulwala, NSW, Australia.

Full results: https://www.iwwfed-ea.org/barefoot/23/23USA011/23USA011.html

The Last Chance World’s Qualifiers left many skiers with a spot at the world’s as well as many personal best scores. Among the group needing to post a qualifying score were James & Amara Bruns, Alexis Dix, and Michael “Berry” Yoder. 

More information about the world’s tournament can be found here: https://vbc-website-backend.squarespace.com/barefoot-worlds

The Bruns siblings traveled from Sioux Falls, SD to get some training in for the world’s at the World Barefoot Center as well as ski some qualifying scores at the tournament. James had previously posted a trick qualifying score of 1610 but was looking to compete in two events, not just one. James posted a slalom score of 7.0, which secured his spot to compete.

Amara is on the US Junior World’s team and needed to land a jump in order to jump at the world’s. She killed it and landed 5 of her 6 jumps with her biggest jump hitting 9.3 meters. Amara is now ranked 1st in the world for junior girls in every event and overall.

See for yourself here: https://www.iwwfed-ea.org/barefoot/rl2023/iwwf/index.php?page=RL&categ=U17_Women&event=Overall

Another set of siblings taking on Lake Grew this January were Faith and Alexis Dix. Alexis traveled down from Wisconsin in hopes of posting scores to compete alongside her big sister at the worlds. Early morning of day 2, Alexis qualified in tricks with 560 points and in slalom with 3.24 points. These were personal bests for Alexis and a relief.

Her sister Faith also posted personal best scores in tricks and slalom. Hitting her second back-to-front in a tournament, with the first only being the day before, Faith posted a trick score of 2700. Pushing the pace a little more with her slalom, she hit 13.8 crosses exceeding her previous PB of 12.6. Faith is now ranked first in the world for the under-23 division.

Another skier hungry for a jump landing was Michael “Berry” Yoder, whose brother and cousin came down from Ohio to watch the action. Berry landed multiple jumps, with the largest hitting 10.5 meters. Berry will be competing in the under-23 division at the worlds in all 3 events. Berry has come down to Florida to train at the World Barefoot Center many times in the past year, including the two weeks prior to the tournament. He is putting in the time and effort needed for the sport, and has paid off.

Cody Heikkila hit a PB in tricks by completing his first toe holds in a tournament and to top it off it was his birthday! Cody tricked 630 points and got happy birthday sang to him by the hall of famer John Cornish.

Noah Kinnaman hit a new slalom pb of 15.5. John Garrity surprised himself with a slalom pb of 7.13. John was “just trying to ski to both ends and have fun.” Jess Caserta slalomed a new pb in just his first run, ending the passes with a score of 8.13. Betsy Gilman will be making the trip to Australia to compete as an independent in the open division in tricks and slalom. 

Two international competitors made an appearance as well. Mark “Parso” Parsons of Australia and Duane Godfrey of Canada. Parso competed in the Senior World’s this past September in Texas and showed his Australian pride this weekend with his team jumpsuit and wetsuit.

So many people put their time and energy into making this tournament run smoothly. John Garrity and Sam Dubs, with the countless hours working on the live stream. If only everyone could see the behind the scenes to this system, they would grow to truly appreciate the work they have put in. Deanna Dean helped in the boat and in the scorers tower. Betsy Gilman with all the behind the scenes work of the tournament while also skiing, scoring, driving and judging.

Ben Groen for driving and helping set and reset the course and jump program while navigating skiing. Ashleigh Stebbeings-Groen for her help with scoring, judging, and driving while also focusing on skiing. Duane Godfrey for driving and judging. Tim Collette for driving. James Bruns and Faith Dix for videoing and taking pictures. Dale Stevens for judging and helping with the jump program. Trey Edwards for keeping the boat and jetski gassed as well as judging, filming, and helping with the site setup and tear down.

Brody Meskers for driving the jetski, judging, helping with the course, and announcing for the live stream. Brett Swanbom for helping with the live stream, course, and driving the jetski. Noah Kinnaman for helping with resetting the course and filming in the boat. Jess Caserta and John Cornish with tear down help. Cody Heikkila and Amara Bruns on the starting dock. Massive thanks to Brice Storman for loaning the Southern Region his jetski as a pick up boat and Ache Fry for being Safety Director on Saturday!

Everyone at the tournament was very generous with helping where needed. Everyone played a part in making this tournament happen as it is all done for love of the sport. We wish everyone good luck in Australia! Go Team USA!

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