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Monday, May 2, 2016

Walk on Water: Alta church youth group perfects barefooting on lake

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mitchell Martin, one of the youth from Summit Church who has been involved in the Walk on Water barefoot ski club attempts one foot. /Photo submitted
There is only one man that has ever truly walked on water but a local church youth group has been participating in their version of the feat with their bare feet.

Summit Evangelical Free Church Pastor Dan Boeck has been a water skiier since he was a young man but it was about eight years ago that he learned how to barefoot ski, and he's been a devoted enthusiast ever since.

"It's something I enjoy doing so I might as well invite others to do it, too," he said.

It has been the youth of the church that have been the most excited about the sport.

Last summer, Pastor Dan took several youth to Waterloo to take part in a clinic with one of the top barefoot skiiers to learn such things as correct form. He then got those students out on Storm Lake last summer a few times to practice and try to perfect the new found sport.

It was early this year that the WOW (Walk on Water) group was formed. Each Wednesday and Friday those interested have signed up to participate. Pastor Dan shared that there has been so much interest that he has had to break the kids up into two groups on some outings to make sure he could carry them all in his boat. Over the course of the summer, there have been about 30 youth who have taken part.

The group has made it a practice to be out on Storm Lake by 6:30 a.m. They encounter only a few other boaters at that time - operated mainly by fishermen - so there aren't many passers-by that ohhh and awww over the ski-less skiiers.

"We've been blessed with calm waters at that time," Pastor Dan said. Choppy water makes barefoot skiing difficult. "We got out early to avoid too many other boaters."

The youth group begins each ski session with a prayer - something that helps their performance, laugh the youth, as they get out on the water.

"Getting out of bed that early is the hardest part," said Roman Chrischilles. "It's a lot of fun and an adrenaline rush but I never look forward to the wipe outs and the soreness. I don't want to get out of bed the next day when that happens!"

What makes this sport so appealing?

"It's challenging and something that not everyone has done before," Roman continued.

Shelby Anderson said she has grown up skiing but had never tried barefoot skiing until this summer.

"This has been a cool opportunity to learning something new," she said.

In case of wipe outs, the youth learn tucking and rolling helps the fall - that is if they can remember to do so in that quick moment.

Shelby's sister Megan has also skiied a great deal but has not yet attempted the barefoot skiing.

"I'm thinking about it but am nervous; I've seen her (Shelby) wipe out!"

In addition to the barefoot skiing, the youth try other ski methods such as one ski, two skis and even two skiiers.

There is great support for each other, Pastor Dan said, but laughs saying the girls are more supportive of each other; the boys give each other more cheers during "face plants" than they do when they get up on their feet!

Pastor Dan explained a boom is attached to the side of his boat and the beginners hold on to an attached short line, which allows instruction to take place. The skiiers then graduate to to skiing behind the boat on a long rope.

Some of the youth are learning tricks such as how to ski on one foot and how to do "planned" tumbles.

"Being involved in the group is a good positive way to hang out with people," said Roman. "There will be fun memories."

The group has completed the season but with such enthusiasm, they will be out there again next summer.

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