There’s only one thing that has the slightest chance of stopping Zenon Bilas in his tracks these days — debris.
That’s because Bilas, 50, is a barefoot water skier with seven national titles who says, “I don’t want to stop.”
He’s hasn’t had a serious injury on the water since 1983, when he pulled a hamstring and twisted a knee. Now his conditioning and experience have him more enthusiastic than ever about performing on the water.
Click play to watch Bilas in action. Mobile users can also click here.
In the clip, Bilas is featured in a Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes commercial, although he’s not seen. That’s because he performed the stunts for the filming on Lake Powell in Page, Ariz., and producers later put the “Tony the Tiger” cartoon over his figure for the commercial.
He got the gig in 1996 when young barefoot-skiing competitor Charity Merriman was selected for the commercial. The people at Kellogg asked whether her father knew someone who could stand in for the cartoon character.
“It was such a great time,” Bilas said. “It’s great to be the star of a commercial.”
After years away, Bilas’ desire to compete — and land more commercials — is stronger than ever.
“In 2006, I thought I don’t like [not being in good enough shape],” he said. “I got into super-great shape, better than ever. I’m having so much fun and [at an older age] I respect it. I appreciate it.”
He says the biggest challenge is watching out for debris in the water. You have to have at least 4 to 5 feet of water in which to execute a move.
“I’ll do a difficult trick only if the technique is perfect and I’m feeling relaxed and not tired or fatigued.”