Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Locals helping Koehlers go to world championship

by Steve Targo

November 13, 2008

Geneva — Ariana and Kailey Koehler practice barefoot waterskiing, or “barefooting,” on Lake Como every summer.

Their hard work has earned them a chance to be in the World Barefoot Championships this January in Otaki, New Zealand.

But the Koehlers need money to get there, and that’s why a group of local people are helping them out this Saturday.

There will be a fund-raiser featuring food, games, a raffle and a silent auction at Mars Restaurant from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

“We’re going to have a little bit of everything,” said Don Woelky, of Mars.

The event will feature everything from a dice game to beer brats and sausages, as well as the chance to meet Ariana, 13, and Kailey, 12.

Woelky said he has watched the girls progress to the professional level of barefooting. He grew up on Lake Como and skied in the Twin Lakes Aquanuts with the Koehlers’ father, Bob.

“Watching the girls mature over the years, it’s just been amazing,” Woelky said. “It’s fun to watch them go to that level.”

Near the end of the summer, the Koehler girls discussed their excitement about the chance to compete in New Zealand.

“It will be a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Kailey said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever get the chance to go to New Zealand again.”

Ariana is looking forward to taking the trip with her family, which includes Bob and the girls’ mother, Kami.

“It’s going to be really fun that we’re all going together,” Ariana said. “I’ve never been outside the country before.”

Bob said he and Kami help the girls practice during the summer on Lake Como. The girls have been waterskiing since they were 3, and doing it barefoot since they were 5.

Waterskiing in general is a big part of the Koehler family. Years ago, Bob skied competitively. In addition to being on the Aquanuts, he skied at Cypress Gardens and Sea World in Florida. Bob and Kami also barefoot.

Although it’s no surprise to Bob that his girls are into it, he didn’t expect them to become two of the top 20 barefooters in the world.

Both Bob and Kami are very proud of them.

“We never really forced them to do anything,” Bob said. “They just kind of grew to love it.”

The Koehlers are part-time Lake Como area residents. Primarily, they live in Wauconda, Ill.

Last year alone, Ariana and Kailey raked in the awards during five barefooting competitions.

Ariana received first-place for tricks and second-place for slalom in Chick Fest; first-place in slalom, tricks and overall in Cooler By The Lake and the Illinois-Wisconsin Open; and second-place in slalom, tricks and overall in the Midwest Regionals and Nationals.

Kailey received second-place for tricks and slalom in Chick Fest; first-place in tricks and third-place in slalom at Cooler By The Lake; second-place slalom and fourth-place tricks at the Illinois-Wisconsin Open; second-place slalom and tricks at the Midwest Regionals; and third-place tricks, fourth-place slalom at Nationals.

For more about the Koehlers, visit the Web site teamkoehler.org.