Florida’s Fleck wins record 7h Open Title.
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Rough Water Pummels Barefooters at Figure Eight National Championships. Florida’s Fleck wins record 7h Open Title.
Crandon, Wisconsin – For the second year in a row, mother nature wreaked havoc on Footstock, the nation’s largest endurance barefoot competition in Crandon, Wisconsin.
Over 120 skiers from as far south as Florida and as far north as Canada, made the annual pilgrimage to the Northwoods of Wisconsin to ski in this year’s 25th anniversary event. But what they encountered was not the glass calm water that endurance barefooters typically prefer. Instead, they saw 15-25 mph southwest winds pummel the famed “Chetek Corner,” the huge looping ½ mile turn on the backside of Peshtigo Lake, making the chance of anyone completing a figure eight almost impossible.
In the end though, neither runner-up Chad Mietz nor mother nature could derail endurance barefoot phenomenon Peter Fleck of Orlando Florida, as he cruised unbeaten all weekend to win both the National Seniors and Open Barefoot Titles. The conditions were so rough, that only three figure eights were completed all weekend, two at the end of Saturday and only one on Sunday-the last run of the day. The run that decided the Open Championship.
The rough water also had a major impact on some of the perennial favorites as most struggled to even get to the backside of the tough mile and a half course. Past champion Ron Blouw was knocked out before reaching the Top 20 and favorite Marc Donahue of Indiana could do no better than 6th. But the weather did reveal the strength of some up and coming skiers that could soon challenge Fleck for the Open title. Besides the “iron man” Mietz who took second in both the Seniors and Open division for the second year in a row, hometown skier, Jacob Weber made his presence known in the Open Division by steamrolling the field to take third, his best finish ever. Former hometown skier, Greg Fatla took an impressive 5th and the surprise of the championship might have been the showing of Minnesota barefooter Kyle Kazle. After not even cracking the Top 40. Kazle dominated in the rough water and consistently pulled off some of the longest runs of the tournament before taking home 4th place in the Open.
But in the end, even with Barefoot Central’s $1,000 bounty on his head, (offered to any skiers who could beat him), Fleck was unstoppable and was the only man to not suffer a fall all weekend.
“It was brutal out there Sunday,” noted Tournament Director, Jacob Weber. “As soon as you made the first turn it was just constant waves. On Sunday, the tournament definitely changed from endurance to survival out there. ”
The weekend also was a coming out party of sorts for eventual Women’s Champ, Haley Gibbon who not only roared through her division, but knocked off some men in the Open as well. As did 2nd place women’s barefooter Victoria Wiesner, who also showed her toughness in some long runs on the rough water course.
In the Master’s Division, Canadian barefooter, Wayne King of Manitoba defended his title by beating Michigan’s Dave Hopkins twice in a row in the finals.
In the Junior Division, Isaac Aukee and Brody Meskers showed why the future is bright for them as well, as they battled it out for first and second, respectively. Meskers also had his best finish in the Open, placing an impressive 7th.
The Best of the Worst crown went to Joel Kehl.
In all, over 265 runs were pulled in two days and $7,500 in prize money was awarded.