THE WORLD IS COMING TO FOOTSTOCK AUGUST 27-28.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/BREAKING NEWS
CONTACT: Gary Mueller, 414-899-6118 (cell)

(World’s top-ranked barefooters from Australia, New Zealand, England, US and Canada to compete for National Figure Eight Barefoot Championship.)

Crandon, Wisconsin – With the World Barefoot Championships held in Alma Center, Wisconsin this summer, Footstock, the WBC National Figure Barefoot Championships will be the unlikely beneficiary of an international field this year. As many of the world’s top-ranked 3-event barefooters are staying the extra week to compete in Crandon. The only question is, how will they hold up competing in the country’s most challenging endurance barefoot championship, a tournament that pits barefooters head to head to see who can go the farthest while battling wind and waves over the country’s most punishing Figure Eight course.

Already the field includes 5-time Men’s Overall World Champ, David Small of England, Ben Groen, the #3 ranked barefooter in the world from New Zealand. Australia’s Ashleigh Stebbeings, the #1-ranked Woman barefooter in the world. And 13-time World Champion Gold Medalist, Keith St. Onge of Winter Haven, Florida. Along with a host of other Australian team skiers.

But the bigger storyline just may be who isn’t competing. As 9-time National Figure Eight Open Champ, Pete Fleck (Orlando, FL) announced that he will not defend his title for a record 5th time in a row due to an injured back. This opens the door to a wide open international field, including former Footstock champ and perennial Top 3 finisher, St. Onge, and England’s Small. Of course, last year’s runner-up, Iron Man Chad Mietz, might have the best odds of winning, after beating Fleck not once, but twice in head to head battles last year to win the Seniors division championship.

“The event which starts August 27, on Peshtigo Lake in Crandon, Wisconsin, boasts over $6,000 in prize money. An estimated 140 skiers from 10 states and 5 countries are expected to compete in the two day championships. The last person standing on Sunday is crowned the Open National Champ. National titles will also be decided in Juniors, Womens, Seniors and Masters divisions.

“With Pete Fleck out, the field is wide open this year,” explains Tournament Organizer, Gary Mueller. “There are at least 6-8 guys that have a good chance of winning it. We will absolutely have a new Open champ in 2016 and his name will not be Pete Fleck.”

Other barefooters to watch include perennial favorites, Marc Donahue (Indiana), 3-time Master’s Champ Wayne King (Canada), up and coming young endurance barefooters Kyle Kazel (Minnesota) and Brody Meskers (Wisconsin) and Kyle Rau (Michigan).

This year, the championship also has some new sponsors. World Barefoot Center (WBC) is the 2016 Title Sponsor of Footstock. Mole Lake Casino and Hotel is another new major sponsor. Other new sponsors include Mustard Girl, Watercraft Sales and Northwood’s Insurance who join long-time sponsors, Forest County Potawatomi, Arlens Cellcom, Schaefer’s IGA, Trig’s Smokehouse, I-Gogs, Brew Pub Pizza, Pack Em Inn Bar, Creative Screenprint, Knott Lane, Troy Bocek Auto Body, Group Therapy, Musson Brothers and Blue Bunny Ice Cream

Open practice on Peshtigo Lake begins on Friday from 2:30-5.

Competition starts on Saturday at 9:25 and goes til 5:00. Sunday skiing begins at 8:30 and runs until about 3:00. Registration forms are available online at Footstock2016.com.
On-site registration closes Saturday, August 27th, at 8:45 am.
Admission to the event is $2 a day or $3 for the whole weekend.
# # #

2016 Schedule of Events at Peshtigo Lake, Crandon

Friday, August 26
2:30-5:00 p.m. Open Practice
3:00-6:00 p.m. Registration and Bib Pick-up Opens on site
7:00 p.m.- Official Footstock Party Bar (Group Therapy)

Saturday, August 27
7:00 a.m. Late Registration/Packet Pick-up Opens
8:45 a.m. Registration Closes (All skiers must check-in at registration whether they are pre-registered or not by 8:45)
9:00 a.m. Skier’s Meeting
9:10 First Pairings Announced/First Coin Flip
9:18 a.m. National Anthem
9:25 Senior, Junior, Women, Masters and Open Division Competition Begins
2:00 p.m. Costume Division Preliminary Judging
5:00 p.m. Senior Division Championship Rounds
8:00 p.m. Official Footstock Party Bar (Pack Em In)

Sunday, August 28
7:45 a.m. Skiers due on site
8:00 a.m. Skier’s Update Meeting
8:30 a.m. Junior, Women and Open Rounds continue
2:30 p.m. Junior and Women, Masters Championship Rounds
3:00 p.m. Open Semi-Final Rounds/Championship
4:00 p.m. Awards Ceremony


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WORLD BAREFOOT CENTER IS NAMED TITLE SPONSOR OF THE 2016 FOOTSTOCK NATIONAL FIGURE 8 CHAMPIONSHIPS

Crandon, Wisconsin – It was announced Monday that the World Barefoot Center (WBC) has been named the official Title sponsor of Footstock, the world’s largest and most prestigious figure eight endurance barefoot championship.

The WBC was founded by 16-time US National Overall Barefoot Champ and 13-time World Barefoot Gold Medalist, Keith St. Onge of Winter haven, Florida along with the U.K.’s David Small, 4-time men’s Overall World Champ and current Open Men’s World Jump and Trick Record Holder.

The WBC is the country’s premiere barefoot training center.

Footstock co-founder Gary Mueller believes the partnership with the WBC will help ensure that the two-day National Championship in Crandon, Wisconsin will continue to grow.

“Keith and David, and their team at WBC are such great ambassadors for the sport of barefooting,” explains Mueller. “With their help, we believe we can continue to grow Footstock and ensure the next generation of barefooters will continue to see Figure Eight endurance barefooting as a great chance to compete against the world’s best barefooters on an equal stage.”

The National Figure Eight Endurance Barefoot Championships are slated to be held August 26-27, on Peshtigo Lake in Crandon, Wisconsin. Over $7,000 in prize money, the world’s largest cash barefoot purse is on the line. Over 130 skiers from 10 states and 5 countries are expected to compete in the two day championships. The event pits barefooters head to head to see who can go the farthest while battling wind and waves over a punishing mile and a half Figure Eight course. The last person standing on Sunday is crowned the Open National Champ. National titles will also be decided in Juniors, Womens, Seniors and Masters divisions.

Registration forms are available online at Footstock2016.com.

Florida’s Fleck wins Record 9th National Figure Eight Barefoot Open Title in one of roughest Footstocks ever.

Crandon, Wisconsin – Rough water may have dominated the storyline of the 29th National Figure Eight Barefoot Championships in Crandon, Wisconsin, but it was nine-time champ Peter Fleck’s losses on Saturday in the Senior Championship and on Sunday in the semi-final round to Chad Mietz that had people buzzing. Because for the first time in five years, it appeared that the 52-year old Fleck was finally showing some chinks in the armor.

But after turning in the only two-figure eights all weekend (the lowest total since 1992, Fleck showed why he is the most dominant Figure Eight barefooter in the history of the sport. Knocking off Madison, Wisconsin’s Chad Mietz to win his fifth straight Open Championship.

The championship for Fleck followed a weekend of surprises, starting with Mietz’s consecutive victories over Fleck in the Senior National Championship on Saturday night. The emergence of first time Footstocker, Kyle Rau of Michigan, who took third overall also caught the field by surprise. Junior champion 16-year old Brody Meskers continued to show he will be a force to be reckoned with the next few years, by not only winning the Junior National Championship but also taking fourth, knocking off his coach and mentor, three-event National Champion, Keith St. Onge.

On the women’s side, former National 3-event champion, Elaine Fatla made her triumphant return to Footstock, after a three year hiatus, and not only won the women’s National Championship over a gutsy performance by Minnesota’s Amanda Cotter, but Fatla took 14th in the Open division as well. While Wisconsin’s Hailey Gibbon, who narrowly missed the Top 16 in Open, took third.

The Master’s Championship had it’s shared of drama as well, as Jon DeBelak, skiing only 6 weeks after shattering his heel hitting a log, barefooted all weekend on one foot and forced a second championship run before succumbing to Mike Netzer.

The two-day National Championship, which featured 130 professional and amateur footers from Florida to Canada.

Crandon’s own Jakob Weber had an incredible weekend, placing seventh in the Open Division under brutal conditions on Peshtigo Lake.

The tournament’s newest competitive division also proved to be one of the weekend’s most entertaining. The Costume Division, sponsored by BarefootCentral and Eagle Sports had $900 on the line to the 3 top finishers. “Lumberjack” man, Greg Fatla beat “Superman” Scott Wedge to to take the “costume” championship.

In all, over 276 runs were pulled in two days and a record $9000 in prize money was awarded, making it the largest cash prize barefoot championship in the country.

 

2015 National Figure Eight Barefoot Championships Official Results

2015 Winners

1st Pete Fleck (Florida)

2nd Chad Mietz (Wisconsin)

3rd Kyle Rou (Michigan)

4th Brody Meskers (Wisconsin)

5th Kyle Kazel (Minnesota)

6th Keith St Onge (Florida)

7th Jacob Weber (Minnesota)

8th Brad Pylman (Michigan)

9th  Bob Mahnke (Wisconsin)

10th Dave Hopkins (Michigan)

11th Jon DeBelak (Wisconsin)

12thh Marc Donahue (Indiana)

13thh Joe Heilman (Minnesota)

14th Elaine Fatla (Wisconsin)

15th Isaac Auckee (Wisconsin)

16th Luke Bruckner (Wisconsin)

 

Womens

1st Elaine Fatla (Wisconsin)

2nd Amanda Cotter (Wisconsin)

3nd Haley Gibbon (Wisconsin)

4th Victoria Wienser (Wisconsin)

 

Seniors

1st Chad Mietz (Wisconsin)

2nd Pete Fleck (Florida)

3rd Brad Pylman (Michigan)

4th Bob Mahnke (Wisconsin)

 

Masters

1st Mike Netzer (Wisconsin)

2nd John DeBelak (Wisconsin)

3rd Wayne King (Canda)

4th Bob Mahnke (Wisconsin)

 

 

Juniors

1st Brody Meskers (Wisconsin)

2nd Ethan Schulda (Wisconsin)

3rd Maxwell Wohlleber (Wisconsin)

4th Payton Blau (Michigan)

 

 

Best of the Worst and Worst

Mike Netzer

 

Costume Contest

1st Greg Fatla

2nd Scott Wedge

3rd Joe Heilman/Amanda Cotter

news-2015

Florida’s Fleck wins record 8h National Figure Eight Open Title in dramatic fashion.

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CONTACT: Gary Mueller, 414-899-6118 (cell)

Florida’s Fleck wins record 8h National Figure Eight Open Title in dramatic fashion.

Crandon, Wisconsin – It had been over 5 years and 1200 runs at the National Figure Eight Barefoot Championships since the last Pete Fleck fell before his opponent did on a run. August 3 in the finals of the double elimination tournament, it happened again to the same man who beat him last in the longest run in the event’s history, Marc Donahue. The stunned crowd couldn’t believe what they had seen. The run didn’t even go a full figure eight. The reason? The protective tape Fleck was wearing, tore off, sending him sideways in a set of giant cross rollers in the final hundred yards of the first eight. To some barefoot purists it was the ultimate irony. The controversial Duck tape that allowed him and other skiers to protect their feet so they could barefoot farther without burning, ultimately did him in. Word quickly spread across social media. Fleck’s 3-year stranglehold on the Open Championship might end. The fall would force a run-off.

But after quickly re-taping, Fleck proved once again why he is the most dominant endurance footer in the world, beating Donahue easily to win his record eight National Figure Eight Open Title.

The championship followed a weekend of drama and near misses that saw a half dozen strong contenders, including last year’s runner-up Chad Mietz and former Footstock Open Champ Donahue making strong runs at the title. The two of them completing more than double the number of figure eights any other competitor had to complete, besides Fleck.

But the most interesting subplot, was whether either of the world’s two highest ranked professional barefooters, Keith St. Onge or David Small could pose a threat to the seemingly unbeatable Fleck.

The crowd got its first answer early Sunday when the long-awaited head to head matchup between Fleck and the reigning World Overall Champ, Small (who was competing for the first time at Footstock), ended in a rare disqualification because of Small’s butt riding on the final stretch of their first eight. Small disputed the call by the boat. But the mistake was clear to the crowd of over 500 on shore. Small would have to work his way through the loser’s bracket if he wanted a chance at the title.

But neither of them got a second chance at Fleck.  As both were knocked out in the round of 6 by Donahue. Their exits left just Donahue and last year’s runner-up Chad Mietz to wrench Fleck’s stranglehold on the Open title. After two eights, Mietz succumbed to fatigue and the Indiana Iron Man-Donahue, setting up an all-too familiar final and a rematch of the Senior Championship the day before.

Despite the cheering of the obviously Donahue backed crowd and the tournament’s Fleck Vodoo-themed promotional poster, Fleck was again the last man standing.

“Marc made it really tough on me,” explained an exhausted, but jubilant Fleck in the boat after winning. “Winning number 8 with my family here was really special.”

The 2-day tournament, which featured 121 professional and amateur footers from Florida to Canada, started with a full figure eight on the very first run setting the tone for a weekend of uncharacteristically calm water. Although the longest run of the tournament was just 2-3/4 eights, far short of the record 5-1/4 eights by Donahue and Fleck in 2010, figure eights were the norm all weekend in every division from Juniors to Masters.

The Senior Division Championship was also won by Fleck on Saturday, for the fourth consecutive time. A dramatic shift in weather conditions Sunday afternoon though, brought whitecaps to the mile and a half course and scuttled any chance for long runs in the Women’s, Junior’s or Masters Division Championships. In the end, Wayne King of Canada continued his dominance of the Master’s Division beating Michigan’s Dave Hopkins in a run-off. And Wisconin’s Amandas Cotter upset last year’s champ, Haley Gibbon in the women’s final. In a rematch of last year’s Junior final, Brody Meskers beat young Isaac Aukee twice to win his first title.

The tournament’s newest competitive division also proved to be one of the weekend’s most entertaining. The Costume Division, sponsored by BarefootCentral and Eagle Sports had $900 on the line to the 3 top finishers. Skiers received points for their costume creativity, originality and difficulty to ski in and bonus points for their finish in their overall bracket. “Leisure Suit” man, Brayden Becker let in costume creativity along with Joe Heilman for his depiction of “Mini-Fleck.” But Tim Camodeca in his Penguin Suit prevailed after receiving 5 bonus points for winning the skiing part of the competition. In all, 9 skiers competed in the inaugural division which is sure to explode next year.

In all, over 274 runs were pulled in two days and $8,500 in prize money was awarded, making it the largest cash prize barefoot championship in the country.

 

2014 National Figure Eight Barefoot Championships Official Results

Open
1st      Pete Fleck (Florida)
2nd      Marc Donahue (Indiana)
3rd      Chad Mietz (Wisconsin)
4th      David Small (England)
5th      Keith St Onge (Florida)
6th      Kyle Kazel (Minnesota)
7th      Brody Meskers (Wisconsin)
8th      Luke Bruckner (Wisconsin)
9th      Colt Wennlund (Wisconsin)
10th      Kevin MacGregor (Minnesota)
11th      Jacob Weber (Minnesota)
12th      Nick Ruchti (Minnesota)
13th      Greg Fatla (Wisconsin)
14th      Ron Blouw (Michigan)
15th      Alex Mahnke (Wisconsin)
16th      Martin Lorenz (Minnesota)

Womens
1st      Amanda Cotter (Wisconsin)
2nd      Haley Gibbon (Wisconsin)
3rd      Kristina Ruchti (Minnesota)
4th      Amanda Nelson (Wisconsin)

Seniors
1st      Pete Fleck (Florida)
2nd      Marc Donahue (Indiana)
3rd      Chad Mietz (Wisconsin)
4th      Bob Mahnke (Wisconsin)

Masters
1st      Wayne King (Canda)
2nd      Dave Hopkins (Michigan)
3rd      Mike Netzer (Wisconsin)

Juniors
1st      Brody Meskers (Wisconsin)
2nd      Isaac Aukee (Michigan)
3rd      Spencer Schallock (Wisconsin)
4th      Henry Kerschbaum (Wisconsin)

Best of the Worst and Worst
Jarrett Breber

Costume Contest
1st      Tim Camodeca (Penguin)
2nd      Braydon Becker (Leisure Suit)
3rd      Joe Heilman (Mini Fleck)

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Florida’s Fleck wins record 7h Open Title.

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CONTACT: Gary Mueller, 414-899-6118 (cell)

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.

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Florida’s Fleck wins record 6th National Figure Eight Championship

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Florida’s Fleck wins record 6th National Figure Eight Championship

Rough water abounds. 11-year old is youngest Top 16 finisher ever.

Crandon, Wisconsin – Pete Fleck knew he had a target on his back, in his quest for a record sixth Footstock Open National Championship, when his first run on Saturday morning to start the tournament went for two and a half miles against an unseeded skier.

And it didn’t get any easier from there for the U.S. World Barefoot Team skier from Orlando Florida, as he, along with 125 other barefooters from 10 states and Canada took to the waters of Peshtigo Lake in Crandon for Footstock, the country’s largest endurance barefoot championship. The two-day event pits barefooters head to head at the same time over a figure eight course to see who can barefoot the farthest. Most of whom had trained all year to beat one man. Pete Fleck.

Despite being forced to ski multiple eights early in the competition, no one was successful on Saturday at taking out the defending champ, as rough water turned the usually calm Peshtigo into a barefooters’ nightmare. Although past Footstock champs like Marc Donohue, and Ron Blouw, along with veteran skiers Eric DeVries, Luke Bruckner, James and Jacob Weber, Chad Mietz and Greg Fatla handled the rough conditions with few problems, many skiers struggled to make even half an eight on the mile and a half course.

So after 7 hours and over 175 runs, the first day ended much the same way it started, with Pete Fleck completing two figure eights to defeat 2010 champ, Marc Donohue of Indiana for the National Senior Division Championship. A rematch of their dramatic 2011 championship

The conditions Sunday, however, started out the total opposite. After delaying the start by over an hour due to fog, Peshtigo was a sheet of glass calm water and Pete Fleck again was challenged on the very first run of the day by Nick Ruchti. The junior division start put a big scare into the champ, taking him for two full figure eights. But the calm conditions were short-lived. By noon, steady winds started to whip out of the north creating havoc all over the course, turning the famed Peshtigo Figure Eight, into a mess.

“The waves definitely cut down on the number of eights skiers made,” described Tournament Director, Jacob Weber. “There were basically no places on the course where you could relax. The whole straight away you just got pummeled.”

And although Fleck and local favorite Greg Fatla (fresh off his National Men’s barefoot slalom championship in Texas) continued to plow through the field as the only two undefeated skiers, the story of the day was the performance of two up and coming junior skiers. 11-year old Ethan Schulda who finished 9th and 15-year old Nick Ruchti who cranked out eight after eight all day in difficult conditions against the world’s best endurance footers.

“Nick Ruchti is going to win the Open Championship by his 18th birthday,” predicted long-time Footstock Announcer, Dave Mueller. “He has been skiing here since he was 9. He is already a veteran and he doesn’t weigh 100 lbs with his clothes on.”

The other story was the amazing performance of frequent Top 20 finisher Chad Mietz of Michigan. He took out seeded skier after seeded skier all Sunday, turning out multiple eights over and over until working his way into the Open Championship run against Pete Fleck. But, after being forced to ski over and over to get to the championship, including the longest run of the day, a semi-final run against Marc Donahue that went 2-1/2 eights in absolutely brutal conditions, in the end Mietz didn’t have enough gas in the tank to catch the well-rested Fleck, who took home his record sixth Open National Figure Eight Barefoot Championship in Crandon.
Fleck also took home $2,400 for his Open and Senior championships.

The hometown skiers again made an impressive showing amongst the national field, with Greg Fatla finishing third, Jacob Weber finishing 13th and James Weber finishing 16th.

Three other division championships were also decided on Sunday. In the Master’s Division (over 55), Canadian barefooter, Wayne King of Manitoba came out of nowhere to upset defending Master’s Champ Bob “the Mule” Mahnke by beating him twice. After a brutally rough eight that almost took King down several times, Mahnke caught a toe in the cross rollers coming back. Then in the final run-off, Mahnke did something he has never done in a major competition. He missed his step-off, giving King the title of National Masters Champion. Dave Hopkins of Michigan took third and Dan Cardinal of Wisconsin was fourth.

In the Junior Division, Pierce Pluemmer, Isaac Aukee and Nick Ruchti battled it out, with Pierce Pluemmer winning his third and last Junior title. In the championship Pluemmer and Aukee both battled through extremely rough water, until Aukee caught the crossrollers coming back through the middle of the course and fell ahead of Pluemmer.

On the women’s side, Liana Sikora was dominant all weekend, beating newcomer and local favorite Victoria Wienser to take the Women’s National crown. Third went to Haley Gibbon and fourth went to Joanne OConnor, the oldest female skier to ever compete at Footstock, at 63 years young.

Best of the Worst went to Richard Legois who beat out Jay Schaefer for the less than coveted title. Nick Ruchti won the costume contest.

In all, over $7,000 in prize money was given away.

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Records Expected to Fall at 2012 Footstock

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CONTACT: Gary Mueller, 414-899-6118 (cell)

Records Expected to Fall at 2012 Footstock.
5-Time Champ Pete Fleck Looks to defend title.

Crandon, Wisconsin – There’s one axiom that always holds true at Footstock, the National Championship of Figure Eight Endurance Barefooting. Expect the unexpected.

A year after recording the longest single figure eight run in Footstock history (5-1/4 eights) and winning his first national championship, defending champ, Mark Donahue last year couldn’t even crack the Top 20. The 2011 championship run, which usually goes at least four laps, could barely muster 2 and 1/2. And just when you thought Pete Fleck was too old to win his record fifth Footstock Open Title, not only did he win one division, but he swept two (Seniors and Open).

So what will the storyline for 2012 be? According to Tournament Official, Gary Mueller, it might just be the weather. But it’s not rough water he’s talking about.

“The weather in the Midwest has been so unseasonably warm, that the ice went off almost a month and a half early,” explains Mueller. “That means a ton of extra training for the “northern” skiers who typically finish in the Top 10. That’s going to give a lot more guys the chance to beat the southern skiers like Fleck and Keith St. Onge who can ski year round.”

The two-day national championship, held on tiny Peshtigo Lake in Crandon, August 18 and 19th is expected to draw a huge field from all over the country. Last year, with the addition of the new Masters division (50 and over), the tournament field swelled to 164.

The popular Footstock pits pro and amateur barefooters from across the country head to head over twisting and often choppy, mile and half figure eight course. The premise is simple. The skier who barefoots the longest wins. The competition is intense, the falls brutal, and the last man standing on Sunday is crowned the National Figure Eight Endurance Champion.

5-time National Champion Pete Fleck of Orlando Florida has already announced he will return to defend his Open title. The former X-Games barefoot champ, will almost certainly face a stiffer test in 2012. And if conditions are calm, skiers could challenge the almost unfathomable 2010 record of 5-1/4 laps.

And in addition to crowning an Open Champion, Footstock will also crown national champions in Juniors, Womens, Seniors and Masters Divisions. Entry forms can be downloaded at footstock2015.com.

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Florida’s Fleck wins record 5th National Endurance Title.

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CONTACT: Gary Mueller, 414-899-6118 (cell)

Florida’s Fleck wins record 5th National Endurance Title.

Rough water abounds as biggest field in years delivers a slew of upsets. First ever Master National Endurance champion crowned.

Crandon, Wisconsin – A year after losing in the longest run in Footstock history and taking second, Pete Fleck showed the barefoot world why he is still the king of figure eights. After dominating the Footstock field for two days, Fleck beat a gutty Jon DeBelak for his record fifth National Open Championship in what turned out to be the longest run of the day-2 and ¾ eights.

And although seeing Fleck in the finals was a familiar site, this year’s tournament was the polar opposite of last year, as wind and waves pummeled the famed Peshtigo eight. Fewer than a dozen figure eights were recorded over two days, with most of them coming in the last 5 runs of the day on Sunday.

“It was brutal out there,” explained Tournament Director and 16th place finisher Jacob Weber of Crandon. “The waves were just relentless from the time you stepped off to the final turn coming into the site. The stretch from Chetek corner to the step-off area took out most everyone.”

Despite the less than stellar conditions, nothing could spoil the party for the former X-gamess Barfeoot Champ, Fleck who was the only man to never lose a run over the two day competition. Fleck also won the Senior National Championship over DeBelak.

Although Fleck’s domination and the rough water was the biggest story line of the championship, the other big story was the comeback of former Senior National Champ Jon DeBelak. Just a year after coming back from a horrific water ski injury that would have ended most skier’s careers, DeBelak showed why any discussion of the country’s best figure eighters has to include his name.

Having to work his way through the consolation bracket Sunday, DeBelak blew through the tournament’s top seeds, cranking off some of the grittiest figure eights anyone has ever seen, considering the conditions.

DeBelak also had to get past Crandon’s own Greg Fatla who’s 3rd place was the highest finish by a Crandon skier in the Open since Bucky Dailey won the National Title over a decade ago. And he had to best World Overall Barefoot Champ, Keith St. Onge of Orlando who took fourth.

The rough water wreaked havoc with the tournament’s top seeds, turning Sunday into a wide open field that favored the rough water specialists, many of whom are from Wisconsin. Veterans Mike Netzer, Steve Kazle, Luke Bruckner, Dan Ehlers, Joe Heilman and Bob Mahnke all made huge runs deep into Sunday afternoon. Two other Crandon skiers also had big finishes as James and Jacob Weber placed 10th and 16th respectively, showing the nation’s top endurance barefooters they will have to contend with these two in the Open division for a long time to come.

On the Junior’s side, Pierce Pluemer and Jake Wiedemeyer battled it out for the championship, with Pluemer taking the victory after a gutsy performance in the rough conditions. Issac Aukee and Derek Buchman rounded out the top four.

The Women’s National Championship came down to s step-off contest at the end. After Florida’s Lauren Lindeman missed her step-off it opened the door for Kristina Ruchti to face Footstock newcomer Alyssa Brooks. Having to beat her twice, Ruchti held on to make both her step-offs and take the women’s crown.

One of the most awaited championships of the weekend was that of the newly created Master’s Division for skiers 50 and older. 16 AARP members or soon to be members took the water to claim the first ever Masters National Championship and they didn’t disappoint. In the end, it was Footstock veteran Bob Mahnke taking out both Paul Elsen and Dave Hopkins to take the title.

Dave Seymour took home the Best of the Worst and Nich Ruchti won the costume contest skiing in a full clown costume.

Although the waves kept the runs a lot shorter, pounding the turns and the step-off area, it was a blessing to tournament organizers who last year pulled a record number of figure eights and barely finished before dark. The shorter runs helped organizers pull the tournament in record time, despite having a field that was 15% bigger than 2010.

“We had a huge jump this year in attendance with 164 registered skiers,” noted Registration Director, Angie Schaefer. “ We had a lot of new skiers in Juniors and Opens and the new Master Division was a huge addition as well. This was one of the biggest championship fields we have ever had. Thank goodness for the rough water.”

Rough water not only sped up the tournament but it wreaked havoc on some of the top seeded skiers. The biggest upsets coming when Open Champ, Marc Donahue of Indiana and JJ Link of Florida were both knocked out of the tournament early on. Leaving them out of the top 40.

“It wasn’t as much an endurance contest this year, as a survival contest,” laughed Tournament organizer Gary Mueller. “There are a lot of guys with sore necks this morning, who may be wondering why they put themselves through such punishment.”

Except of course for Open and Senior Champ, Fleck. He woke up with a great big smile on his face Monday morning, knowing he is now the winningest barefooter in Footstock history.

# # #
2011National Figure Eight Barefoot Championships (Crandon)

Official Results

Open
1st       Pete Fleck (Florida)
2nd      Jon DeBelak (Wisconsin)
3rd       Greg Fatla (Wisconsin)
4th       Keith St. Onge (Florida)
5th       Luke Bruckner (Wisconsin)
6th       Steve Kazle (Wisconsin)
7th       Dan Ehlers (Wisconsin)
8th      Mike Netzer (Wisconsin)
9th      Bob Mahnke (Wisconsin)
10th    James Weber (Wisconsin)
11th    Ron Blouw (Michigan)
12th    Joe Heilman (Minnesota)
13th    Dom Gobbo (Illinois)
14th    Jeff Asbach (Wisconsin)
15th    Tim Camodeca (Illinois)
16th    Jacob Weber (Wisconsin)

Seniors
1st       Pete Fleck (Florida)
2nd`   Jon DeBelak (Wisconsin)
3rd     Marc Donahue (Indiana)
4th     Dan Ehlers (Wisconsin)
5th     JJ Link (Florida)
6th     Ron Blouw (Michigan)

Women
1st      Kristina Ruchti (Minnesota)
2nd     Alyssa Brooks (Wisconsin)
3rd     Lauren Lindeman (Florida)
4th     Dawn Van Alstine )Wisconsin)

Juniors
1st       Pierce Pluemer (Wisconsin)
2nd     Jake Wiedemeier (Wisconsin)
3rd     Issac Aukee (Michigan)
4th     Derek Buchman (Wisconsin)

Masters
1st       Bob Mahnke (Wisconsin)
2nd     Paul Elsen (Illinois)
3rd     Dave Hopkins (Michigan)

Fleck Win

To duct tape or not to duct tape?

Duct tape was allowed for use by competitors at Footstock’s Nationa Figure Eight Barefoot Championship from 1990-2004. In fact, it’s usage was made famous by “Duct Tape” Jack Schuller during the mid 90’s on Clear Lake. Over the years, dozens of skiers have used it in cases of cuts and severe bruising, all without notice. In 2006, Footstock banned the use of duct tape by its competitors due to pressure from the skiers. But now with the increasing number of record runs, and to help skiers avoid the risk of permanent damage to their feet, Footstock is once again allowing the use of duct tape. Now, Footstock Co-founder, Gary Mueller debates the issue with his brother, popular, long-time announcer, Dave Mueller on the issue of whether duct tape should or shouldn’t be allowed at Footstock.
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For Duct Tape (by Gary Mueller )

Dave you whiny, washed-up hack of a barefooter. You’re the same kind of Neandrethal that would like to see hockey goalies go back to not using masks and football players go back to using leather helmets and no pads. Be honest,you’re probably one of the idiots that wanted to see disabled golfer Casey Martin walk the Masters, rather than ride it, because somehow that would give him an advantage over Tiger Woods.

Dave, are you honestly trying to tell me you think that a barefooter wearing a small layer of duct tape is somehow going to give them a competitive advantage? Have you lost your mind? We’re not talking about baseball players corking bats or wide receivers wearing stickem’ on their hands. We’re talking about a tiny piece of tape to protect a person’s feet from permanent damage. No different from a quarterback who dons a flack jacket or a basketball player who wears a protective face mask to guard a broken nose.

If anything, duct tape can be more of a disadvantage. Because it often bundles up in the middle of a run, creating drag and a major distraction to the skier.

You probably don’t care, but the vision of Footstock was to build a national championship event that was safe, competitive and fun.

Why do you think we banned Clincher-style gloves? Not because they gave skiers a competitive edge, but to keep competitors safe. To protect the weekend warriors like me who need every advantage and might do so without knowing the potential for injury. Which is the same reason, we allow a minimal use of duct tape.

Of course, if you had it your way, weekend barefooters like me, would either just damage their feet in competition to the point of permanent damage or not enter at all. Skiers like 4-time champion Pete Fleck, who literally burned holes in his feet because of his runs at Footstock, would have to give up the sport altogether. Other 3-event barefooters, like World Champ Keith St Onge, might choose not to come to Footstock at all if their only option to be competitive was to risk severe damage to their feet.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed Dave, but the sport of barefooting is small enough already. Is it that terribly wrong to allow a handful of people the smallest protection of their feet so that they can compete? I understand some people’s desire to keep barefooting pure, but Footstock has always tried to appeal to the masses rather than simply the hardcore fringe of the sport, like three-event footing does.

Because believe it or not Dave, our goal is to move more people into the sport of barefooting. Not out of it.

You know, there will always be competitors that can’t accept the real reason why they lose. They have to blame the seedings, the coin flip, the judges or the boat speed. As both a former Tournament Director and Chief Judge, I have heard them all. But the fact is, duct tape offers a Figure Eight barefooter about as much of a competitive advantage as the brand of wetsuit they wear. (By the way, if you want to argue that one too, Chris Barnhart won two Footstock championships and two seconds wearing nothing but cut-offs and a vest.)

Against Duct Tape (by Dave Mueller)

Gary you booty-wearing, cry baby of a barefooter. What part of the word “barefoot” don’t you understand? I don’t know how you define it, but I looked it up in Webster’s, and it clearly states that a bare foot means “with the feet bare,” or “feet with the absence of any covering or protective surface.”

Hmm. No mention of duct tape.

Isn’t the whole idea of a barefoot endurance competition in large part how much pain you can endure? Maybe you should allow people the chance to call timeout during their run as well, when they see waves that are too scary or their arms start to get tired. Maybe for the people that struggle with the turns, we should give the option of barefooting from a boom.

Last time I checked Footstock was a National Championship. Not an entry-level tournament for beginning barefooters. I agree, that one of the strengths of the tournament is it’s inclusiveness. But do you really want to risk changing the very nature of the sport by eliminating the “bare” part of barefooting?

I realize that the addition of many top 3-event barefooters to the field makes Footstock more exciting and helps draw more skiers and fans. I also understand that many of these career barefooters may wish to protect their feet against damage. But you’ll never see Keith St Onge with duct tape on his feet. Or Marc Donahue or Chris Van Zeeland. I don’t care how many eights they do. Or how sore their feet get.

I don’t have a problem with rules that protect the skier’s. I totally agree with the tournament safety rules banning clinchers. I also agree with the rule that disqualifies competitors from drinking and skiing, and putting their arms through the handle to rest. All potentially dangerous behaviors. But sore feet? C’mon Gary. What do you own stock in Duct Tape?

You also used words like “small layer” and “minimal use” in relation to the amount of duct tape people used to protect their feet last year. Were you at last year’s tournament or were you too busy icing your feet down to see the excessive amount of tape used on some competitor’s feet? C’mon Gary.

I have a better idea. Why don’t you create another division for cry babies like yourself. You can call it the , “Open Duct Tape” division. Maybe run it in Saturday night after all the real barefooters have skied. The only criteria for entry would be if you have baby-soft feet and a low threshold for pain.
Heck Gary, who knows, you might even do well for a change. Unless, of course, Pete Fleck and Marc Donahue enter. Then you’re screwed.

On second thought, I change my mind. I think duct tape should be allowed at this year’s Footstock. But only to cover the mouths of the whiners who can’t handle barefooting the way it was intended – on only their “bare” feet.

Footstock Sets Date for 2011 National Championship

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/BREAKING NEWS
CONTACT: Gary Mueller, 414-899-6118 (cell)

Footstock Sets Date for 2011 National Championship. Tournament to Allow Duct Tape.
Adds New Division for Seniors.

Crandon, Wisconsin – Significant changes are underway at Footstock, the National Championship of Endurance Barefooting. The tournament, to be held August 20 and 21 on Peshtigo Lake in Crandon, has decided to allow duct tape. Concerned with the potential for significant foot damage to the event’s top skiers due to the increasing number of long runs, event officials decided to again to allow duct tape to be used.

“For safety reasons, Footstock will allow the use of duct tape in 2011,” announced Tournament Founder Gary Mueller. “After last year’s record setting number of eight’s, we decided that it was in the best interest of the competitors to allow them to protect their feet against possible permanent damage.”

According to Mueller, foot damage has become an increasing problem on the endurance barefooting scene. Perennial top 10 Figure Eight barefooter Chad Mietz and 4-time Footstock Champ Pete Fleck, both burned holes in their feet in 2010. Mueller also cited the increasing average length of runs as a factor.

“The first four years of Footstock (on Lake Lucerne and Clear Lake), no one ever made a single eight,” explains Mueller. “We never imagined the runs being as long as they are today.”

Mueller also acknowledged that to some barefoot purists, the addition of duct tape will be controversial. But just as the event banned the use of Clincher Gloves after the severe injury of two competitors in the 90’s, Footstock will again to what’s best to ensue the safety of its skiers.

Event organizers also announce the addition of a new division. The Master’s Division is open to men or women over the age of 50.

“With the explosion of the Senior Division the past 5 years, it just made sense to give the older skiers a division of their own,” announced Tournament Official, Jakob Weber. “Not only will this create room in the Senior Division to accommodate the influx of new skiers, but it will allow the older skiers the chance to be more competitive.

Early entry fees are due by August 1. Tournament officials encourage skiers to go online to the new website, footstock2015.com for more information and to download an entry fee.

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