The Last Word

BILL LANKHOF --Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

First, it is best to know that John Adamson and friends are not certifiably crazy. They just look like it.

They believe it is perfectly normal being dragged through frigid water behind a boat travelling faster than some people drive, in temperatures that are more suited to snowsuits than bathing suits. One man's torture, apparently, is another man's sport.

"We're moving from 42 to 50 miles per hour. It's much faster than wakeboarding. It is extreme. It's fast. But that's the thrill of it," says Adamson, of St. Thomas, one of about 50 enthusiasts expected to walk on water at next Saturday's 17-mile Grand River Barefoot Waterski Endurance race.

"People may think that we might be just a little crazy. But the cold and choppy water this time of year just adds to the challenge."

The race includes teams of three to five skiers. "We ski barefoot as long as we can -- the best go for about eight minutes -- until you fall; the next skier gets in the water and you keep going for 17 miles from Cayuga to Dunnville," Adamson says.

The first boat to get to the Byng Conservation Area, wins. It's all over in about 25-30 minutes. But it's a wild 25 minutes with boats and skiers falling, boats turning, skiers jumping into the water, getting yanked out, and engines revving.

Think NASCAR with water.

"A guy might ski five minutes the first time, the second time you might only do four and the next only two minutes. It's like running a marathon, there's only so much you can get out of your legs. Your calves burn and your feet really heat up," Adamson says. "When you're done, you feel like you've just done the Boston Marathon -- you might finish last but you still feel good just because you've finished."

Adamson is an accountant: So much for that theory about accountants being duller than the parliamentary channel. His team includes a factory worker and a chiropractor, who, he says, "comes in handy when you're doing this." No kidding. The only thing missing is the psychiatrist.

Barefoot waterskiing's been around since the late '40s but this is only the fifth year the Grand River race has been held. "Most of us are involved in competitions the rest of the year. In the U.S. they have a travelling circuit now. Barefooters from all over come which really makes for a great time. Our world is relatively small, but wide spread."

Anyone interested in learning to barefoot says Adamson should start by calling the Ontario Waterski Association which holds clinics. The website is www.OWSA.com. His group can be contacted at www.canadabarefoot.com. Or, you could head to the Grand River bridge at Cayuga or Byng Conservation Area next Saturday and grab a piece of riverbank. Start time is 8 a.m. Hot chocolate optional but recommended.

LOOKING FLUSH

SI.com, in a survey of fans, rated major league stadiums on which provided the best bang for the buck. Angel Stadium, Coors Field and PNC Park in Pittsburgh ranked 1-2-3. Washington was ranked last.

Toronto's Rogers Centre placed 22nd out of 30. Fans love it when the roof is open but when closed it was compared to a cave. But, hey, the fan survey said it's got really good bathrooms. Which somehow seems appropriate for a team that went into the toilet in July and never came out.

BITS 'N' BITES

Serge Savard has lost his driver's license for a year and was fined nearly $1,100 for crashing into two parked cars while driving impaired. NHL president Gary Bettman immediately announced it was just one more indication how the league is clamping down on roughing ... Terrell Owens had a plate screwed into his broken right ring finger. Says Toronto comedian Frenchie McFarlane, "meantime, former teammate Donovan McNabb has got to be thinking that while doctors are at it, maybe they could screw his head on right, too" ... In his debut with ABC's college football Doug Flutie said of his famous "Hail Mary" pass to Gerard Phelan that gave Boston College an amazing 47-45 victory over Miami: "I hate seeing it because one of these times he's going to drop it."

WORDSMITHS INC.

Ian Hamilton, Regina Leader-Post, on Mike Tyson saying boxing has left a bad taste in his mouth: "Yeah -- it's called Evander Holyfield."

Rapper Ron Artest, who ignited the worst brawl in NBA history, was the opening act for a Ludacris-Young Joc show last night. Says Seattle Times' Dwight Perry: "Front-row fans are urged to simply applaud his performance rather than shower him with champagne."


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