Blair Wins 2023 Lake Norman New Year's Day Barefoot Tournament
by USA Water Ski & Wake Sports
Jeff Blair has competed in the event since 1992, and has won this event more than anyone else.
Temperatures in the 60s, sunny skies and calm water brought a large crowd of spectators and excellent performances to the 45th annual Lake Norman New Year’s Day Barefoot Skiing Tournament in Sherrill’s Ford, N.C.
Participants travelled from as far away as Indiana, Florida and New Jersey to compete, but it was local resident Jeff Blair of Mooresville, N.C., who once again came out on top. Blair has competed in the event since 1992, and has won this event more than anyone else. After a five-year hiatus due to annual holiday family travel, he surprised everyone by once again appearing for the tournament. Though he hadn’t trained for the event, he executed his typical run of a flying backward deep-water start, backward one foots, back-to-front and multiple tumbleturns. His endurance gave out early resulting in a shorter time, but still a winning 549-point run.
Two young athletes also had impressive performances. Van Jantzen, 14, of Tega Cay, S.C., won the Men’s Division with a backward dock start, multiple backward one foots and a long run of 181 seconds, all backward. Logan Harrington, 9, of Davidson, N.C., was the only contestant in the Junior Division, but had the second longest run of the entire tournament at 212 seconds! An additional 100 points from his flying dock start and tricks gave him a total 312 points for the fourth highest score of the tournament!
Water Ski Hall of Famers Rachel Normand judged the event, while John Gillette provided commentary on the action.