Hastings teen just won her fourth national barefoot waterskiing title
A junior at Hastings High School has a pretty unique passion. Taylor True loves to compete as a barefoot waterskier.
She started skiing when she was just 6 years old and within a few days, she had shed the skis and was out on just her feet.
"I do it because I love it," she said. "This is what I've done my whole life -- ever since I was 6. It's really fun and you get to meet people from all over the world. It's just a really good experience."
Recently, True competed at the National Barefoot Championships in Oakley, Calif., and she won the overall national title.
She competed in and won two of the three categories in the meet, earning her the overall title. She won the slalom competition, which consists of going back and forth across the wake as many times as possible in just 15 seconds. After doing one pass facing forward, True is then required to make a pass facing backward as well.
In the second competition, tricks, she does as many tricks as possible in 15 seconds. Each trick has its own point value based on difficulty.
This wasn't the first time she won a national title. In her career, she has won a total of four national titles.
True now has her sights set on the world championships. She competed at the world championships in Waco, Texas, last year.
"It went pretty well," she said. "I didn't ski as well as I had hoped to, but I did well and it was a confidence booster for sure."
This year, she hopes to earn a spot on the United States' junior world team. The next world meet will be held in March 2014 in Australia.
"It's 10 times more intense than nationals," she said. "It's such a cool experience. You get to talk to people from New Zealand, Germany, France, all over."
True has done what she can to recruit her friends to try waterskiing and barefoot waterskiing.
"They all think it's super cool," she said. "I have some friends who do it, too. I've tried to get more friends out to learn. They just think it's awesome."
In answering the question of why -- Why ski without skis? -- True had a succinct response.
"It's more extreme," she said. "It's really cool."
Between now and March, True will be hitting area lakes to practice up. In addition, she'll be busy on frozen water, too -- True is a member of the Hastings girls hockey team.
A family sport
The sport isn't new to the True family of Hastings. Taylor's father Tim grew up in Fergus Falls and competed in the sport. When he met his future wife Melissa, she'd come to the tournaments and eventually, she started helping out. She is now the president of the American Barefoot Club.
They like the social aspect of the sport.
"For me, it's the people every year," Tim True said. "You get to know everybody. We're just one big family. It's definitely a family-oriented sport."
Tim True said the competitions usually include children from 10 years old all the way up to one skier who is 84.
"We're all just one big family," he said. "There's nothing we enjoy more than being out in the boat with the kids."
Taylor True said she recognizes there's not a way to turn the sport into her living -- she just does it because it is something fun that she can continue doing.
"I hope to do it until I'm old -- really old," she said. "Unfortunately, it's not an Olympic sport. There's not a whole lot to train for, other than the fact that I love to do it."