U.S. Athletes, Teams Earn Medals At Barefoot Worlds
by Scott N. Atkinson
The U.S. Junior Barefoot Water Ski Team won the overall team gold medal and the U.S. Elite Barefoot Water Ski Team earned the overall team bronze medal at the 2023 Barefoot Water Ski World Championships, Feb. 15-19, at Max Kirwan Lakes in Mulwala, New South Wales, Australia.
For the eighth consecutive time, the biennial Elite (Open) Barefoot Water Ski World Championships was held simultaneously with the biennial Junior Barefoot Water Ski World Championships. In addition, for the first time, U23 athletes competed for individual titles only. The five-day event featured more than 100 athletes from eight countries. The Elite Barefoot Worlds took place for the 22nd time, while the Junior Barefoot Worlds was held for the 14th time. The tournament was originally scheduled for April 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Athletes competed for medals in slalom, tricks, jumping and overall, in addition to the coveted team titles. The wake slalom event consisted of athletes crossing the boat wake as many times as possible in two 15-second passes. Tricks competitors performed as many tricks as possible in two 15-second passes. Jumpers, who were each allowed three attempts, went for distance while leaping off an 18-inch ramp.
The U.S. Elite Barefoot Water Ski Team tallied 6,952.63 points in earning the bronze medal. Australia won the gold (8,730.01 points) and New Zealand earned the silver (7,778.79 points) in the eight-team field. Members of the U.S. Elite Barefoot Water Ski Team were: Carter Boerman (Salem, Wis.), Mike Caruso (Delray Beach, Fla.), Faith Dix (Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.), Noah Kinnaman (Lake St. Louis, Mo.), Broderick Meskers (Chetek, Wis.) and Brett Swanbom (Groveland, Fla.).
Dix earned the bronze medal in women’s slalom (12.70 points).
The U.S. Junior Barefoot Water Ski Team tallied 5,806.14 points in winning the gold medal. Australia earned the silver (5,495.97 points) and New Zealand earned the bronze (3,421.7 points) in the four-team field. Members of the U.S. Junior Barefoot Water Ski Team were: Carter Boerman (Salem, Wis.), Amara Bruns (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Noah Kinnaman (Lake St. Louis, Mo.) and Brett Swanbom (Groveland, Fla.).
Bruns won gold medals in girls’ tricks (1,850 points) and overall (2,884.96 points), and earned silver medals in slalom (8.60 points) and jumping (30 feet); Kinnaman won the gold medal in boys’ tricks (10,850 points); Swanbom won gold medals in boys’ jumping (72 feet) and overall (2,798.65 points), and earned the silver in slalom (16.80 points) and the bronze in tricks (5,550 points); and Boerman earned the silver medal in boys’ jumping (69 feet) and the bronze in slalom (15.20 points). U.S. independent athlete Orval Cyr (Chisago City, Minn.) earned bronze medals in boys’ jumping (64 feet) and overall (2,261.58 points).
Athletes also competed for the first time for individual medals in a U23 division. Dix won gold medals in women’s slalom (13.80 points), jumping (35 feet) and overall (2,889.68 points), and earned the bronze in tricks (1,940 points); Brice Storman (St. Petersburg, Fla.) won the gold medal in men’s slalom (18.40 points); Meskers won the gold medal in men’s overall (2,881.90 points) and earned bronze medals in slalom (17.40 points), tricks (5,150 points) and jumping (73 feet).
In addition to competing as an athlete, Meskers also served as the coach of the Junior team. Dale Stevens (West Palm Beach, Fla.) was the coach of the Elite team. Andrew Martin (Larkspur, Calif.) was the team manager and Deanna Dean (Apollo Beach, Fla.) was the fund-raising manager.
Other gold medalists from the Elite Worlds were: Australia’s Keenan Derry (men’s slalom, jumping and overall); New Zealand’s Ben Groen (men’s tricks); Australia’s Ashleigh Stebbeings (women’s slalom, tricks and overall); and New Zealand’s Georgia Mathis (women’s jumping). Other gold medalists from the Junior Worlds were: Australia’s Macy Peebles (girls’ slalom and jumping) and Australia’s Fletcher Ball (boys’ slalom). Other gold medalist from the U23 Worlds were: Australia’s Elaina McClung (women’s tricks); New Zealand’s William Leigh (men’s tricks); and Australia’s Connor Rogers (men’s jumping).
Among the other performance highlights, Stebbeings set three pending women’s slalom world records (17.40 points/17.80 points/17.60 points); Derry set a pending men's world slalom record (20.8 points); New Zealand’s Bevan Kelly set a pending senior men’s (45-55) world record in jump of 74 feet; and Kinnaman, 15, joined the likes of perennial world champions Keith St. Onge (USA) and David Small (Great Britain) by breaking the 10,000-point mark in junior boys’ tricks.