21 February, 2024

World champion to headline barefoot event

Some of the best barefoot skiers in the world will be in action in Dimboola Friday and Saturday for the Peter Taylor Memorial.

By Zoey Andrews

Luke Van Den Heuvel was crowned World Champion in 2022.
Luke Van Den Heuvel was crowned World Champion in 2022.

They will compete in jump, slalom and trick events.

Jumps will be held on both Friday and Saturday evening, while on Saturday night there will also be an auction, DJ and fireworks.

Three of the biggest names to compete in the event will be Hayden Knaggs from England, William Leigh from New Zealand and Australia's own Luke Van Den Heuvel.

Van Den Heuvel was dominant at the International Waterski and Wakeboard Foundation's World Masters Championship in 2022 - claiming all three categories in jump, slalom and tricks, as well as being crowned the champion overall.

The event was held in San Marcos in Texas.

Van Den Heuvel said he has been competing in barefoot skiing for about 16 to 17 years.

"We were down at our local ski club in Mackay, and we saw an advertisement in the paper," Van Den Heuvel explained.

"Someone had put the Central Region Barefoot Club (now defunct), asking people to come and try barefoot skiing competitively."

He did and met the Stebbeings family, learning and practicing the art of barefoot with Ashleigh, now an eight times World Champion.

Event organisers are expecting more than 3000 fans to be bankside Friday and Saturday.

Dimboola Ski Club's Darren Bone said entries for the event, which is in its fourth year, have been capped at 40, with juniors and seniors competing.

He said there had been a lot of interest in the event, with it commonly regarded amongst barefoot skiers as the best and biggest barefoot skiing event anywhere in the world.

Bone said the water at the Dimboola Recreation Reserve was always pristine and like a mirror.

Van Den Heuvel doesn't disagree with Bone's thoughts.

"There is nothing quite like it," he explained.

"We don't usually get so many people watching, jumps at night are always cool, but the atmosphere the crowd at Dimboola generates is pretty special."

Van Den Heuvel attended the last event and said he had an "absolute ball" finishing in second.

"I was definitely keen to return, having known Pete Taylor pretty well, and his son Michael," Van Den Heuvel said.

"Pete was always the life of any party, and a good sport, so it was a no brainer to go to Dimboola."

Van Den Heuvel said fans attending the event were in for an exciting time.

"The jump events are probably the most spectacular out of all the events because it is in front of you," he said.

"It's right there, and there are a couple of boats running at once so once one person jumps the other one is shooting to the start to get ready.

"Jumping under lights is definitely a bit more risky, safe to do, but it looks spectacular, everyone is coming in, coming out onto the ramp 'superman' style, inverted, which gives you more distance.

"There is conventional jumping and inverted; the drawcard is inverted, and we are all trying to go big to get that prize at the end of the night."

The event will be held from 7am to 10pm Friday and 7am to 1am Sunday and all proceeds go to Wimmera Against Cancer in Kids and Rural Outreach Program.

The Dimboola Recreation Reserve Road, between the Wimmera River end of Les Howland Reserve and the Dimboola Basketball Stadium will be closed Friday to Sunday.


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