Canceled barefoot water skiing world event difficult for local qualifier

Cole Stellmacher had qualified for world championship in Australia

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Cole Stellmacher is used to being on the water competing as a barefoot skier. Being off of it now is just as difficult.

Stellmacher, a sophomore at Ponte Vedra High School, qualified for the 2020 World Barefoot Championships that were supposed to take place in Sydney, Australia, although they were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, Cole is playing the waiting game before he can represent Team USA.

“I just keep my head high because either way I know I’m still going to be competing and I just hope it stays in Australia,” Cole said.

Cole got into water skiing when he was 12 years old while living in Wisconsin, but it was when he started training in Florida that he began taking it seriously.

“Probably the hardest thing is just starting the sport,” he said. “Just like starting out with the sport because it is a weird balance thing and the falls are like, terrible.”

After years of practice, Cole was finally able to qualify to compete in this year’s world championships and represent Team USA. This week, he found out that games had shifted from postponed to canceled.

“Like 10 competitions to qualify for them I have been training for a year and a half just training for it and I finally got it, so it is postponed and everything.”

Cole says with everything going on it has been tough for him to keep up with his training, but he has been doing exercises at home to stay in shape until he can get back out on the water.

Right now, the championships have yet to announce an alternative to the canceled event. On the event’s website, it said that “Options to host an alternate modified event may be considered once the impacts & repercussions of COVID19 become evident.”

Cole said whenever the reschedule the competition for he will be there and be ready to compete.

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