Nine out of ten experts agree: having a pool gap in your backyard will indeed improve your wakeskating! That, and a boatload of natural talent, of course. And since Ben Horan has both, it’s really no surprise he rode away with the first Toe Jam title of 2009 in the winch stop of the tour. Ben stomped a perfect frontboard shuv, which was enough to best both rail and super kicker maneuvers by the other riders.
The set up at OWC was a true testament to the fine line between building something riders want to hit, and building something the crowd wants to watch riders hit. With options to go either up or down, there was much discussion about whether a motocross-style super kicker is really what wakeskating needs at this point. But when Andrew Fortenberry stomped a shuv indy, Danny Hampson rode out of a 180 and Brian Grubb put down a late shuv over the box at the top of the kicker well, the crowd, as they say, went wild.
The requisite group of drunk idiots, wakeskate enthusiasts, scantily clad women, and an unlikely appearance by The Corey Duffel made up the excited audience. The riders in the semi final consisted of five pre-qualified past champions (Aaron Reed was there, but opted not to ride) and 8 riders who made it through the semi finals earlier in the day. It took three hours to whittle down four heats of 6 to those top 8, then a two hour break (perfect for visiting the nearby Chipotle) before the finals action got started.
Fourteen were cut to 6 and than an hour of jamming took place to determine the final rankings. As I’ve already said, Ben Horan came out on top. Ben only used the hubbas on his way to victory, except for a perfectly executed cannon ball off the kicker. Brian Grubb, on the other hand, did a little bit of everything. It was the late shuv off the kicker that took home second place for him though. In third was Danny Hampson who still does frontside big spins better than anyone else.
The first stop of the Toe Jam was short and sweet, and definitely left everyone ready for more. And since the pool set up was on the challenging side, everyone should be good and relaxed at the next stop on the Projects rail park!