With his casual attitude and disarming smile, Zenon Bilas tells us more about his journey to becoming a multi-award-winning American barefoot skiing champion. With his jam-packed schedule, Zenon still manages to provide professional training in trick, slalom, wakeboard and barefoot skiing. He is also highly knowledgeable in setting a boat up correctly for the optimum wakeboarding and waterskiing experience. After more than 30 years of instruction throughout the world, Zenon emerges as one of the ultimate leaders in the history of the sport, but, as all good sportsmen do, he is only too glad to pass on the information he has to those who are willing to listen. We asked Zenon more about his life, his dreams and his consummate career.
When did barefoot skiing first come onto the scene?
Barefooting was born in early March, 1947 in Winter Haven, Florida. Water ski pioneer Chuck Sligh Sr believed barefooting was possible, since skiers were successfully riding small shoe skis. Sligh asked 17-yearold A.G. Hancock to try it by stepping off from a ski. After several attempts, Hancock made it, becoming the first person to barefoot water ski. The news spread quickly across town to the Cypress Gardens water ski show, where Dick Pope Jr also managed to accomplish barefoot skiing. Pope became the first to barefoot consistently, and on March 6, 1947 he was the first to be photographed barefooting. Interestingly, after Hancock’s initial successful run, he never attempted it again.