ZVRS and Barefooting, Crammed in Two Days

I arrived at the World Barefoot Center on Sunday evening in time to have dinner with Swampy, Lauren Lindeman and a great group of younger skiers from all over the world, including A. J. Porreca, a 17-year-old barefooter from Willowbrook, Il who is featured on the cover of Water Skier magazine.  After a great dinner, I headed back to the Z Team home that I was staying at.

At the ZVRS headquarters, we filmed a VCO Plus video all day.  Because Ann Marie Mickelson and I are no actresses, we ended up with a lot of shots for the blooper file.  Hollywood will not be calling us soon.  Nonetheless, we had a blast and after the first half hour of filming, we kicked off our shoes.  Roger Vass put me on a cardboard platform so that Ann Marie wouldn’t tower over me.  I begged Roger to airbrush 30 pounds off of me but no amount of money could convince him.

Joined the Z Team for dinner:

Then I went for a walk on the beach at dusk and stayed out until it was pitch black.  Just a sliver of the moon and a bright star shone in the sky.  Turned off the hearing aids and walked in dead silence– every now and then it’s nice to tune out and just enjoy the visual stuff.  The house I was staying at was a few steps from the beach.

Yesterday morning, we finished up some filming and I had this awful urge to go barefooting.  I paged A. J. Albrecht, who also works for ZVRS as a Z Specialist and asked him if he was available for the afternoon.  I’m working the HLAA conference the next four days and Texas the weekend after, so I figured I could play hooky for the afternoon. The only catch– he was two hours away.  Did I really want to drive four hours in one afternoon?

Heck yeah.

And I’m glad I did.  A. J. and I had an amazing afternoon on the water.  I started off on the boom, back to the basics.  Get up, sit back down on the water, get up again.  Over and over.  Here’s A. J. showing me what to do:

I asked A. J. to teach me how to barefoot on one foot — something that eluded me as a teen.  Every time I would lift a foot, I’d end up face first in the water.  Kicking off a ski was tough for me.

My first attempt ended in a face plant.

Here we go again, I thought.

My second attempt ended in success– I shifted my weight and lifted my foot up!  Did a couple more of those and rode a little longer to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.  That felt good!  The last several weeks at the gym, I practiced  balancing on one foot and I guess that paid off.

I switched places with A. J. and drove while he showed me his stuff.  He jumped out of the boat on to the boom while I drove– take a look:

The next trick– a backwards deep water start and then he got up barefooting backwards, then flipped around from a back-to-front:

A. J. is a master on the chair ski/hydrofoil, I was in awe of all the flips he can do.   Take a look:

I worked on the deep water start on the five-foot extension off the boom and had no problem getting up each time.  I moved to the back of the boat on the long line and out of five attempts, I got up once for a short run and promptly landed face first again.  The long line continues to be a battling beast for me.  A. J. turned around to take a picture and of course, I crashed at that moment:

When we finished, a storm was brewing so I went back to the boom and practiced skiing in rough water back to the landing.  We pulled the boat out and covered it just as it began to pour.

I hit the road back to Tampa and sat in the airport until ten p.m.  Needless to say, I conked out on the plane.  I sure hope my snoring didn’t bother anyone.

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