Records Fall at Footstock as DeBelak Dominates Field to Win Third Straight Open National Championship
Crandon, Wisconsin – When Footstock started on Clear Lake in 1991 as the National Championship of endurance barefoot skiing, the longest run of the tournament that year was just short of a single figure eight. 31 years later, the field averaged a figure eight on every run, as near perfect water conditions resulted in half a dozen Footstock endurance records to fall.
New endurance records were set in Masters, Seniors, Juniors and Women’s Divisions, but it was the Iron man, Jon DeBelak (Wisconsin) who stole the show, repeating for the third straight year as National Open and Senior Champ, outlasting training partner and perennial runner-up Marc Donahue (Indiana) in both divisions.
But the story of the weekend was the staggering number of massively long runs. Over 20 runs exceeded four figure eights and 10 of those exceeded five figure eights over the two-day endurance contest in Crandon. The longest run of the weekend went to 3rd place Open finisher Paul Stokes and runner-up Marc Donahue who pulled off a whopping 7-1/2 figure eights, before Stokes threw the handle. While up and coming footers, Van Coda, Owen Schattshneider, Mike Yoder and Travis Lepak consistently produced monster runs shocking many in the Open field by knocking out several of the tournament’s perennial favorites.
Tournament officials said the massive build-up of weeds and lack of wind, resulted in almost perfect barefoot conditions for the second year in a row.
“Footstock is known for rough, windy water conditions,” explains New Zeeland’s Ben Groen. “But this year, with near glass calm water, we got to see what these barefooters are truly capable of. Especially in the women’s and junior divisions.”
Over 100 barefooters competed in the grueling, two-day championship which pits the world’s best endurance barefoot skier head to head over a mile and half, figure eight course. In all, 250 runs were pulled and over $,6000 in prize money was handed out to the winners.
The women’s championship again saw 2-time champ Sophie Miljevic of Rhinelander take on her sister Ella. But in an unexpected twist, Ella ended up beating Sophie not once, but twice, to take home the women’s national championship.
The most entertaining division of the weekend, might have been with the Juniors. A three-way battle between Missouri’s Noah Kinnaman, and Wisconsin’s Owen Schattsheimer and Van Coda may well have been a foreshadowing of a rivalry that could last for decades. The three barefooters battled it out all weekend ripping off four or more figure eights on more than half a dozen runs. Ultimately, Van Coda came away with the Championship outlasting Noah Kinnaman of Missouri after a grueling 4-1/2 eights.
The most surprising result of the weekend may have been in the Masters division where Mike Netzer missed his step-off two runs in a row, losing to Canada’s Wayne King. Netzer, who is a Footstock legend, struggled to get his foot out of his ski on consecutive runs, resulting in falls-something that’s never happened to him in 20 years of competition. Netzer finished second, while Mike Rotar and Paul Elsen finished third and fourth respectively.