SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Sioux Falls family is set to head “down under” for the biggest barefoot water skiing competition on the planet.
Catfish Bay will be well-represented at this month’s World Barefoot Championships in Australia.
“This is actually an Olympic-sanctioned event, so it’s an IOC-sanctioned event so this is technically the Olympics of water skiing,” Catfish Bay founder Jim Bruns said.
Jim Bruns owns Catfish Bay. He has two kids competing in the Junior World Championships, including 14-year-old Amara Bruns.
“Amara has grit,” Jim said.
“It’s pretty cool that I was chosen to be on the team and that I was chosen as the only female,” Amara said.
Amara was one of six junior athletes named to Team USA last August, and is currently ranked number one in the world in her age group.
“Barefoot water skiing is a tough sport to learn and it’s a tough sport to get into because going into it you know you’re going to have a bunch of tough falls, crash after crash but you know the hard work is going to pay off in the end,” Amara said.
With Catfish Bay covered in snow and ice, Amara spent part of November, December, and January training in Florida for the competition.
“There’s three events, there’s slalom, jump, and tricks,” Amara said.
Amara’s 17-year-old brother, James Bruns, is also competing in Australia.
“Only the best of the best really get picked to be on the team but you can still get a qualifying score to qualify for worlds and I got that qualifying score in tricks and slalom,” James said.
James hopes to hold his own against the world’s best. He’s also eager to travel abroad.
“Maybe I’ll see a koala or kangaroo, that would be fun,” James said.
His sister has her eye on a souvenir in the form of a medal.
“I’m hoping to bring back some hardware,” Amara said.
As for dad, a former professional water skier, he says the students have become the teacher.
“They are definitely better than I am when it comes to barefoot water skiing and they are definitely my teacher when it comes to this sport, so that’s pretty cool,” Jim said.
The World Barefoot Championships are February 12th through the 19th at Lake Mulwala, which is three hours north of Melbourne, Australia.
Amara will travel with Team USA on Monday, while James heads south later in the week.