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30th anniversary of Footstock a successSubmitted: 08/28/2016

CRANDON - It's been called a NASCAR race on water with a crash on every lap. It's a party on the shore and a competition on the water.

It's Footstock.

"This is the national championship of endurance barefooting. People come from 10 states and five countries to be here," said Footstock tournament director Gary Mueller.

The event is held at Peshtigo Lake in Crandon.

Over 150 competitors participate as thousands more cheer them on for two days each year, but the competition on the lake is only part of what makes Footstock so great for participants.

"The camaraderie, the people, the friendships," said 2016 Footstock open division champion Jon DeBelak.
"Even though we're competitors we all help each other out, we give each other pointers, you know?"

That atmosphere attracts some of the best barefooters in the world, making the tournament a wide open competition.

"Past Footstock champions, four or five of them here skiing in it that anyone could win this," said DeBelaK. "That's the other beautiful thing about this tournament--it's not a given whose going to win it."

And to win a competition like this, you also have to show some toughness.

"Once you do one eight you've got the waves coming from the boat, you've got the wind at the other end of the lake, and earlier on in the day you've got like three boats going around at one time," said 2016 World Barefoot waterski champion David Small. "It's brutal, your legs, your back, your forearms, your grip just starts going. It's hard."

2016 Footstock women's champion Ashley Shewmaker says another challenge is how different endurance racing is from traditional barefoot water skiing.

"I'm used to three-event barefoot water skiing where you get the one go and then that's it. And it's also 15 seconds a time. This is figure eight so this is over and over and over again, so this is different than anything we ever do in three-event barefooting," Shewmaker said.

And after finishing second at Footstock, Small says next he wants to come back next year and add a new title to his collection.

"These guys, endurance, they're unreal. It's hard to beat these guys. So maybe next year at the ski school we'll do some training for it and see if we can beat them," said Small.


Story By: Mark Spillane

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