Today began the start of a three day saga known as the Toe Jam Finals in Orlando, Florida, and if things keep going the way they did today we are in for one heck of a ride. I rolled into the Projects in time to check the majority of the first round of sixteen. After the dust had settled from round one, eight riders were one step closer to clenching the title of Toe Jam rail champ. It was on hardcore…the wakeskating that is. There were energy drinks, trucks, griptape and Basset hounds all over the place in Bithlo today and boy did it feel good. What better a way to kick off the quarter finals round then with two previous rail park champions, Brandon Thomas and Reed Hansen, going head to head? With several uncharacteristic falls for BT, Reed was quickly able to flip trick his way into the semis. Reed was deadly all day with his three go-to flip tricks: the kickflip, varial flip, and frontside flip. Hardly ever falling on any of them, they definitely are key to his continuing success on the Toe Jam circuit. Up next was some serious Texas representation, with Brett Little and Aaron Reed taking to the water, another pair of past champions. Brett impressed the judges with his ollie power and switch moves, and took the win over Aaron, but we still love him! Round three was definitely interesting, with the consistencies and experience of Brian Grubb getting pitted up next to the up and coming shredder, Andrew Pastura. Grubb is known for his prowess behind the boat, but Andrew dominated the rails scattered through the lake, and stuck a frontside flip to take out Grubb. That’s three past champions in a row taken out before the semis! The last round went to Nick Taylor, who definitely had to keep his game up to beat the up and coming shredder from Australia, Chris Kallas. Kallas was turning heads with his 540 backbig and solid backside 360 off the kicker, but Nick never fails to turn his game on and an inside out varial flip was one of many things that put Nick out on top. So then there were four…
The semi finals. It’s getting exciting. Hansel was up first against Brett, and once again came through strong with his flip tricks. Brett killed it on the incline ledge, sticking a backlip shuv and a very impressive shuvit to boardslide up it, but it wasn’t enough to take Reed out. Finalist number one had been chosen, and it was clear Reed was out for the win. The second round couldn’t have gotten much more exciting. It was Andrew Pastura versus Nick Taylor, and we were in for a show of some of the most amazing wakeskating talent ever. Andrew seemed to struggle a little on the rails compared to some of his previous runs, but his kickflip to frontside flip was on lock, and he even managed to stick a flats backside flip before the timer ran out. Nick was up next and got pretty serious switch rail tricks in, as well as getting a kickflip, varial flip, and toe backbig. Apparently it wasn’t enough though, and the finals had been chosen: Reed Hansen and Andrew Pastura.
It was about to get rowdy. Andrew won the coin toss and decided to make the call to go first. Of course it was clear this was all part of his intimidation technique he had been taking advantage of all day. He had already been striking fear into the hearts of his opponents with his mustache and silent wakeskate shredding, so this came as no surprise, and definitely threw Reed for a loop. When Andrew actually hit the water he was absolutely going for gold, stomping all kinds of bigspins and 360s that linked together perfectly. Andrew was solid as ever on the rails, and also must have taken note of how necessary it would be to keep his flip trick game up against Reed, so he busted out a solid kickflip to flats frontside flip line, and even a flats toeside frontside flip.
Reed took to the water and nailed his kickflip, varial flip, and frontside flip. Despite three falls, Reed was still able to pull it together at the end to stick a perfect (and I mean perfect) 360 flip coming into the dock. And so that’s that. No results, no conclusions, and all we have to look forward to is tomorrow’s boat finals and winch contest, and the exciting announcement on Saturday of who won today. One more Toe Jam final, one more chapter in wakeskating’s history written.
See you guys tomorrow for more action.