TERI LARSON JONES wasn’t an athlete until she reached her mid-30s. Today, her sport of choice is barefoot waterskiing, widely considered to be waterskiing’s ultimate challenge. She started competing for fun in 2003, but it wasn’t until she skied in the 2009 Senior World Championships held in Otaki, New Zealand, that she became serious about competing (she came home from that event with a bronze medal in tricks and a silver medal in jump). Now, at the age of 42, she continues to achieve a new personal best every season in all three of her events — slalom, trick, and jump — and plans to push herself as hard as she can, regardless of her age.
Teri describes barefooting as an incredibly challenging sport that taps into a part of herself she didn’t know existed. She feels a physical and mental victory every time she pushes herself to a new level, accomplishing feats of performance on the water that seem beyond comprehension. As a Wisconsin resident, most of Teri’s barefoot training is accomplished off the water — the Wisconsin weather simply doesn’t allow for water sports during the majority of the year. Much of her training involves kettlebell and natural fitness training at the Monkey Bar Gym, where she also practices Eischens Yoga for strength, balance, and alignment. For off-season cardio training she takes full advantage of the snow with downhill and cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. When she’s not training, Teri (who recently earned her PhD!) teaches a general chemistry course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that examines global and health-related issues through the lens of chemistry. She truly enjoys helping all of her students achieve their personal academic goals, but particularly enjoys helping young women succeed in science.
Despite these accomplishments, Teri has faced many challenges, her most difficult being a spinal disc injury from a fall in the water in May 2010. She went from being a highly active and competitive athlete to barely getting out of bed each day. The pain and fatigue was so incapacitating she truly believed she would never ski again. But after cervical spine surgery, she was back in the water by March 2011, later going on to win gold in all three events and the overall title in her division at the 2011 U.S. Nationals. Even with this enormous setback, she was more determined than ever to get back in the water. Overcoming this injury, and coming back stronger than ever, has given Teri a confidence that has affected all aspects of her life.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS & CREDENTIALS:
- 2008 World Barefoot Championships (Otaki, New Zealand) with a silver medal in jump, bronze medal in tricks
- 2011 U.S. National Barefoot National Championships with a gold medal in slalom, trick, jump and overall
- Assistant judge and scorer for the USA Waterski division for barefoot waterskiing
- Overcame severe collapsed cervical disc injury
- Earned PhD, December 2010
- Set Women’s III national records in tricks and jump
- Set Senior Women’s Division (age 35+) world record in jump
- Achieve top 3 overall at the 2012 World Championships
- Achieve top 20 overall in the Open Division World Rankings