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Thunder Bay water skier makes waves online with viral stunt videos

A Thunder Bay water skier has reached thousands of people with his now viral videos of barefooted water skiing stunts.

Thunder Bay man gains international attention after posting videos of barefoot water skiing stunts

The barefoot water skiing technique is something Letwin has been practicing since the age of eight, when he began learning from family and friends before travelling to World Barefoot Center, a water skiing school in Winter Haven Florida. (Submitted by Landen Letwin )

Landen Letwin, who is professional water skier from Thunder Bay, Ont., usually spends his summers at competitions or in performance water ski shows around the world. 

This summer has turned out differently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the cancellation of those events hasn't stopped the 25-year-old athlete from getting on the water, and getting creative online. 

"I spent a couple of months in Shebandowan ... I've just been trying to think of fun and different things, different content to put out there and I was fortunate that all these media platforms started contacting me and wanted to use the video," said Letwin in an interview with CBC.

The video Letwin references shows him in a regular water skiing position, but with bare feet. He then begins to perform push-ups on the water, all while being pulled by a boat that is traveling at a speed of 70 km/h. 

"There's a ton of resistance with the water so you have to make sure that your hands stay next to your side, because the force of the water wants to shoot them above your head," Letwin said while going through the motions of the stunt.

It wasn't long before the video of Letwin began to go viral, garnering national attention from the likes of popular online platforms, and TV programs like Good Morning America.

Hundreds of thousands of views later, Letwin has continued to show off his skills on the Shebandowan Lakes near Thunder Bay, and has been riding the wave of social media fame since.

"For the sport of water skiing, to get that exposure ... so people that don't usually see it or are not too familiar with it, they see the videos and then they start researching into it and I think that's definitely one of the coolest parts," he said.

Letwin added that the spectators on the lake has also made practicing and trying out stunts even more fun this summer. 

"You get some pretty funny looks, so boats will turn around and start following you or you'll see people pull out binoculars on the dock and and watch from afar. It's definitely pretty cool when people start driving up next to you and pontoon boats start standing up and cheering ... it definitely makes a lot of fun." 

Coming back stronger next season

Letwin, who is a member of Team Canada's water ski team, said COVID-19 has impacted his team and the season, but has also been "a positive" in some ways for athletes like himself.

"A lot of the water skiers have taken this as a positive and started working on their own skills ... so people have been working on individual things that they can eventually bring to the teams next summer. I think next summer a lot of skiers are going to come back stronger and are going to have a lot more in their toolbox to share," he said.

A Thunder Bay water skier has been receiving international attention after a video of the athlete went viral on social media. Landen Letwin is a professional water skier, and has competed and performed with international teams, including Team Canada. 8:35