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World champion teaches youth [UPDATED]

Published 11:00am Friday, July 29, 2011 Updated 5:14pm Friday, July 29, 2011

Three time world champion barefoot water skier David Small made a stop in Fergus Falls this week to teach a junior development clinic on the Otter Tail River.

Fergus Falls is one of Small’s stops in a summer of teaching lessons all over the world from May through Sept.

For the rest of the year, he lives near Orlando, Fla. where he operates a ski school.

Small holds world records in barefoot jumping and tricks. He placed first in the barefoot world championships in 2002, 2004 and 2010.

Growing up in England, Small started skiing when he was very young.

“I used to be a trick skier, and then when I was 12 I saw someone barefooting,” he said. “So I started by sitting on a kneeboard and figured it out from there.”

Small’s teaching techniques make the learning process far easier than the trial and error method he had to learn from.

Small talks to the skier through a speaker in the student’s helmet. He uses a step-by-step process that builds up confidence and technique before throwing anyone behind a boat.

“Learning how to barefoot doesn’t have to be difficult if you learn the right way,” he said. “If you have the right instruction, anyone can do it.”

Unlike some instructors, Small prefers to drive the boat while he teaches.

“I always drive when I give lessons,” he said. “It gives me a lot more control, and I feel more connected to the skier.”

Small wants to introduce as many young people to barefoot water skiing as possible.

“Getting kids involved is what it’s all about,” he said. “The more people that get involved, the more the sport will grow and progress.”

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