Milly Grech competes in the nationals at Liverpool, where she finished third.
Milly Grech competes in the nationals at Liverpool, where she finished third. Contributed

Texas beckons Milly

MACKAY teenager Milly Grech's first overseas trip won't be your average American holiday.

The 16-year-old Mirani High School student will contest the World Barefoot Championships in Waco, Texas, in August.

It will be her first appearance in the Australian team. She will join champion skier Ashleigh-Kate Stebbeings as Mackay's representatives.

Stebbeings, who is now based in Florida at the World Barefoot Centre, won the open women's title at the recent Australian barefoot championships in Liverpool, near Sydney. Nikolas Bray, 11, of Emerald, won the overall sub-junior boys' category at the championships after winning the slalom and tricks.

Grech finished third overall in the junior women after placing third in the slalom and jump categories and fourth in tricks.

The results qualified her for the Australian team and she's looking forward to her first trip abroad.

"I'll compete in the three events over there," she said.

The Australian team has a training camp in June and then travels to the United States a couple of weeks before competition.

"We train in California, getting used to the boats and the water," Grech said.

She said the facilities in Texas included lakes that were purpose-built for waterskiing and barefoot skiing.

While the sport is still gaining ground in Australia, Grech said it was popular in the United States.

"In America it's a lot bigger. They have a lot of ski schools over there," she said.

Grech took up barefoot water skiing four years ago and has blossomed in the sport under the guidance of Stebbeings.


What's what?

  • Trick: Each skier is permitted two passes through the course, one up and one back. During this time, skiers attempt to complete as many tricks as possible.
  • Wake Slalom: The skier is allowed two 15-second passes through the course. In this time the skier attempts as many crosses of the wake as he/she can complete.
  • Jump: This is probably the most spectacular event from a spectator point of view, because it is accomplished directly in front of the crowd. The competitor can choose a speed no greater than 72kmh for their pass over the jump.

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