Featured Footer: Steve Kling
Steve Kling skies with the Ski Broncs in Rockford, Illinois USA. He is well known for shouldering barefoot pyramids and skiing barefoot circles in the show.
1. Tell us about the first time you barefoot water skied. Who taught you?
I taught myself how to barefoot as a teenager, the first in my circle of friends. I stepped off long-line, wearing short trunks (it was the 80’s, ok?!) and a sponge rubber vest. Later I bought a long-sleeve American barefoot suit from Bart’s, and friends from the Ski Broncs taught me deep-water starts. This was all behind my dad’s 16’ Vampire with an 85 horse Evinrude …manually “trimmed” all the way up for top speed.
2. How many years have you been barefooting?
52 – 18 = Too many years! (34 years)
3. Who is your favorite instructor/mentor/coach?
I’ve been lucky enough to learn from Mike Seipel, Ron Scarpa, Keith St. Onge, Lane Bowers…and other amazing ‘footers (Steve Merritt, Zenon Bilas, Paul Henderson). It’s tough to pick a favorite from that group because they’re all fantastic. However, if I were to spend time training again, it’d be at WBC – that’s where the most knowledge is, in my opinion.
4. What are some memorable moments of barefooting?
I’ve probably forgotten more great memories than I deserve…
· Instead of a bachelor party, my Best Man paid for a week of training with Mike Seipel in Lantana. Everything about that week was amazing, and we learned a ton. We also remembered these keys for teaching others: LOOK at the horizon, FEEL the water’s edge, and DO everything slow. Fundamentals.
· First long-line back step-off. My view through that spray is etched in my memory.
· A no-fall National Tournament for our Ski Broncs barefooters when I “captained” those acts. I literally wept after that show.
· Seeing my best friend fighting for his life after back barefooting into the front of a hydrodyne during a show practice.
· Seeing Amber Rangel in the hospital after her accident.
5. Where and when was your first tournament? Tell us about that experience. (If applicable)
My only tournament experience is in show tournaments, and1992 Lambs Farm was my first. The intensity of our happy little sport became clear while preparing for that tournament. I think all I did was barefoot line and a flyer in barefoot starts.
6. What has been the most challenging skill to learn in barefooting?
The most challenging skill (that I eventually learned) was doing a flip-turn then back step-off …mostly the “with-ski” part of that. The most challenging skill (that I haven’t learned) is surface turns. A combination of injuries, show skiing, and life/time realities has kept me from serious training for years.
7. Tell us about your experience as a show skier/footer.
I joined the Ski Broncs as a young dad, for fun. Since, I’ve enjoyed having my family involved, making great friends, and impacting the lives of members and community alike. I enjoy watching the experience of membership changing people’s lives, and I love putting smiles on faces during a show. It’s only worthwhile when considering the impact on others.
8. Of all the shows you’ve done, share one that stands out in your mind.
Searching my memory for a stand-out show, I realize I’ve performed in more than 500 …and no one really stands out. There were many magic moments along the way, physical or relational, but the shows blur together.
9. Anything else you’d like to add or share?
My license plate: RETOOF 1 …get it?