NASHUA — After years of barefoot water skiing, Matt Shatek broke the world record this month on the Cedar River for longest distance skied on two hands.
“I couldn’t believe I went that far,” he said. “I set my mind to it and focused on it since January; I knew this day was coming.”
The previous record-holder, an Illinois man, set the bar at almost half a mile; Shatek doubled the distance, skiing more than a mile.
“He knew he could beat the record,” said Jason Shatek, Matt’s brother. “Nobody knew he could make it a whole mile.”
Boats patrolled a section of the river in Nashua as Matt Shatek secured the ski handle with his feet, hands skimming the water’s surface as the boat sped down the river.
The videos and paperwork documenting his success have been submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records, and Shatek is waiting to receive the record in print, which he expects in about 12 weeks.
Eight boats sat on the water the morning of Aug. 3, monitoring river conditions and looking out for other boats. A crew of volunteers was there to video record and time the ski. Matt Shatek credits his success to family and friends for their support. In total, around 20 friends and family members showed up to help him beat the record. The crew placed buoys at 100-meter increments in the water, blowing a horn each time Matt Shatek passed one, allowing him to track how far he’d traveled.
“Adrenaline helped carry him that extra distance at the end,” Jason Shatek said.
His training regimen consisted of rising at 4 a.m. each morning to work out, as well as monitoring the amount and type of foods he consumed.
“That made a world of difference,” Matt said. “… I couldn’t have done it without making those lifestyle changes.”
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Matt Shatek, 37, lives in the Twin Cities but grew up in New Hampton and would ski with his family on the Cedar River near Nashua.
Jason Shatek lives on the river where the brothers spend almost every weekend skiing with their “Sunday morning service” group of friends who go out together on the water.
“(I) spent a lot of time down there in Nashua, so it was a perfect place for this attempt,” Matt Shatek said.
Hailing from a family of water skiers, Matt Shatek grew up on the river. His family tried their hand at pyramid skiing and different tricks after seeing the Mississippi Blackhawks show ski team, but it wasn’t until high school that Matt Shatek picked up barefoot water skiing and found a new passion.
“Our favorite became bare footing; that’s what took over,” Matt Shatek said.
To learn more about the sport, he joined a barefoot ski club where veteran skiers showed him the ropes.
“(They) took us out and beat us up. ... We learned the hard way,” Matt Shatek said.
He remembers his improvement throughout the years, from the excitement of standing up for several seconds to now hand skiing and other tricks. Skiing simply for the love of it, this was the first competitive endeavor Matt Shatek trained for.
“We just love (skiing) and sharing it with local communities,” he said, “because there’s still a lot more people who have yet to see what we do.”
Matt Shatek recalled a “sigh of relief” after realizing he was the new record holder.
“(I had) that self-satisfaction to say, ‘I set a goal, and I went out and I did it,’” he said. “You can’t get any more satisfaction than that.”