This year’s water-skiing season has not yet come to an end for all of the Webfooters.
Eight members of the team are in China, where they are taking part in an annual competition.
They are Sam Benjamin, Stefanie Benjamin, Matt Hansen, Melissa Hansen, Kurt Berndt, Craig Moeller, Paris Trumbower and Jeaneen Trumbower.
Melissa Hansen has been water skiing with the Webfooters for 15 years and, along with Sam Benjamin, was one of this year’s show directors.
“It’s neat. My sister and my husband are going and her husband is going,” she said days before they left on the trip.
The group left on Sept. 22 and returns on Oct. 8.
In all, 20 water skiers from Wisconsin are in China, representing the United States.
Members of the Webfooters have been joined by Nicole Taugner, Rich Taugner, Danielle Bardele, Shawn Neuberger, Debbie Farra, Matt Farra, Scott Susek, Matt Tegland, Lindsay Mayer, Jon Hovda, Craig Planton and Chad Weisensel.
Some ski with Tommy Bartlett’s, while others ski with Badgerland, Waterboard Warriors, Muskego Waterbugs or Beaverland Muskies.
Nicole Taugner, who has been skiing for 28 years, put the team together. She and her husband, Rich, are the leaders.
Her experience as a water skier includes Tommy Bartlett’s, Badgerland, Aqua Skiers and the Webfooters.
Several days before members of the team departed, they met at the Taugner’s home in Plover to pack for the trip.
It was there that Nicole explained how it came to be.
She said the Chinese Water Ski Association invites a team from the United States to come and do a competition with them.
“There are three different sites that we will have competitions at,” Nicole said.
This is her seventh trip there for the competition.
The relationship she has developed with organizers of the competition resulted in Nicole receiving an email last June, asking her if she would bring a team.
“Those who are going have to be multi-talented,” Nicole said. “I knew which would be good to travel with and have all the talents we need to make a ski show.”
Sponsors covered the costs of their airfare, hotels, food and sightseeing.
Members of the team had to pay for their warm-ups, gifts and any incidentals.
“It comes up to a couple hundred per person for a couple weeks in China,” she said.
Those participating range in age from 12 to 45.
Paris Trumbower is the youngest one on the trip.
She is in China with her mother, Jeaneen.
“I was totally shocked when Nicole called,” said Jeaneen, of New London.
All three of her children ski on the Webfooters team.
“I’ve never been overseas,” she said. “I think I’m getting to go along because of what she (Paris) has done with the team. I’m just excited. It’ll be fun to experience it through her eyes.”
Nicole was also excited about the trip, saying it is fun to take teams there that might not otherwise have the chance to go.
“It’s a new experience every time,” she said. “They are very welcoming. I don’t feel as if we’re going to a foreign country. We have a common love of water skiing.”