BAREFOOT WATER SKIING

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Wairarapa’s Sarah Linton was a star performer at last month’s World Barefoot Water Ski Championships in Canada.

Linton was part of a 14-strong team from New Zealand that went to the event, which is broken down into slalom, tricks and jump categories.

She finished sixth in the slalom and seventh in both tricks and jump, leading to a seventh-place finish overall in the open women’s division.

Those results meant she made the semifinals for all three categories, which was something she had wanted to achieve before the event began.

“My goals going in were to make the semifinals for all three, which I did,” Linton said.

“I was close to a personal best in all three events as well, which was really pleasing.”

Linton learned to ski barefoot when she was six years old and has been competing since she was 14.

It is a sport that runs in her family, and they will often be seen training on the Ruamahanga River.

Sarah Linton in action.

She said the group that went to the world championships spent 10 days training in Florida before the event, and that had been a massive help.

“The whole team was in Florida and we managed to hire three boats, and we also hired a jump.

“We all stayed right on the lake which was really cool, and meant we could train early in the morning or late at night if we wanted to.”

Linton has plenty of experience competing on the world stage, having attended seven world championships to date.

She had never been to Canada, however, and that was a highlight of this year’s event.

“I’d never been there so I was really looking forward to going to Canada.

“The competition was held on a private lake and we had a few days of training there before the competition started.”

Linton was introduced to water skiing by her father, Ross, who was the New Zealand team manager for the world championships and has been with the team for the past few years.

She was skiing as an independent competitor so was not part of the team her dad was managing, but that group also performed exceptionally well.

The team finished third in the open category, third in the junior category and fourth in the senior category.

Places were determined by adding up the two best scores [for junior and senior] and three best scores [for open] from each event, for each country.

The world championships may have only just finished, but Linton is already thinking about returning for more at the next edition in two years’ time.

“I’ve got a wakeboard competition coming up next month, and barefooting starts again in January.

“The next worlds are in 2020 in Sydney so I’ll be training for that, and it’s nice and close to New Zealand which is good.”

It has been an incredibly successful year for Linton, and in March she also became the first female to win the ‘most photogenic jump’ award – since it was introduced in 1998 – at the New Zealand nationals on Lake Karapiro.