Houston – The Final Slide Show
It’s a wrap!!! The first year of the Slide Show is in the books…The final stop of the Liquid Force Slide Show presented by Monster Energy took place September 30th, at Three Palms Extreme Sports Park in Conroe, TX… just outside of Houston. The Slide Show was run in conjunction with the Texas Wakeboard Tour’s final event of the year, The Southwest Wakefest. Needless to say, it was quite a weekend for all wake riders in attendance.
After nine qualifying events, it was time to find a champion and Houston was the place to crown a winner. Liquid Force flew in the 9 winning competitors from the previous Slide Show events to compete one final time for the coveted championship. Along with the athletes competing, LF had most of the pro team on hand. Shawn Watson, Shane Bonifay, Kevin Henshaw, Gregg Necrason, Keith Lyman, Tino Santori, Ben Greenwood, Collin Harrington, Aaron Reed, and Danny Hampson were all there to build the rails, put on an exhibition, and most importantly…crown a champ.
The set up was the best of the year… A 50’ x 20’ take off pool with three different obstacles to choose from was crafted by team LF. Gregg Necrason, Kevin Henshaw, Collin Harrington and Shawn Watson put the riders to the test as they built a 24’ wall ride to down rail on the right, a flat to down rail in the middle, and a kinked rail on the left. All three rails ended in the lake that the Southwest Wakefest was being held in.
After some early rounds of competition in the local contest, the Slide Show finals were ready to “officially” kick off. The Slide Show started at 1:00 pm with an exhibition put on by the LF pro’s. If you’ve attended any of the Slide Show events, you know that there is definitely a reason that these guys and girls get paid to wakeboard and wakeskate. Henshaw was the first to hit the kinked rail, and on his first hit he completely destroyed it. Unfortunately on his second hit, he tweaked his knee a bit and was not able to ride the rest of the weekend. Luckily, for the growing crowd on hand, Tino, Watson, and Lyman were there to continue to dominate the rails. Keith and Watson seemed to be right at home on all of the rails, but especially on the wall ride to down rail. Both were not afraid to throw down a backlip, or two.
After the demo, the am’s had the butterflies flowing… it was finally time to get down to business… The format was simple… start with 9 riders… 3 heats of 3 riders… take the winner of each heat and put them through to the finals… However, the judging was not quite as simple. The riders all had something to prove and had one goal in mind…They all wanted to ride for Liquid Force and represent as the Slide Show champ … All 9 of the riders rode extremely well, making it difficult for the pro’s to choose winners. The day started with Ben Bazis (Omaha, Nebraska), Chris Canuel (Kelowna, BC), Colin Ryan (Minneapolis, MN), Shelby Kantor (Sacramento, CA), Matt Hirschbiel (Orlando, FL), Brian Reeder (Atlanta, GA), Eddie Valdez (Canyon Lake, CA), Mike Cardoza (Vancouver, WA), and Ryan Anderson (Oklahoma City, OK) all in the hunt… By the end, though, it was down to 3 riders…Eddie Valdez, Matt Hirschbiel, and Mike Cardoza that were all awarded spots into the final round.
The final show down was set… 30 minutes more and we would have a winner of the first ever Liquid Force Slide Show and new a team member. However, when the 30 minutes was up, the judges could not make up there mind, the riding was too good and too close to call. The judges met for a few minutes and decided that each rider would get five more hits at the rails and a winner would be crowned. Once again, the judges could not crown a winner by the time the sun went down Saturday night, so they decided to sleep on it and make the competitors sweat a little during the night.
Sunday morning the judges reconvened, watched some video footage, and came up with a winner… actually, two winners. They ended up with a best trick winner and an overall winner who become the new member of the LF team. The best trick went to Mike Cardoza with a back lip to front side 270 front board 90 out on the kinked rail. The overall winner and the newest member of team Liquid Force is Matt Hirschbiel. Matt qualified at the Orlando Slide Show and absolutely killed it all weekend in Houston. He was the first to step up and backlip the wallride and down rail (doing it before Watson or any of the LF pro’s had), and was smooth on the other two rails, as well. The victory was definitely well deserved!
Big props go out to each competitor at the Slide Show Finals…everybody rode extremely well and made it very tough on the judges. Thanks also go out to all of the competitors that we met at each event throughout the year. You all helped make this a summer to remember!
One final thanks to all of our sponsors who made the Slide Show a huge success this year…Monster Energy, Malibu Boats, Reef, Spy Optic, Kicker, Surf Expo, and Lake Powell… Without these sponsors, the Slide Show could not have happened!
Also, a big thanks to Bill Geiger, Glen Morris, all of our team riders, and everyone else that helped put on this final event!
And most importantly…
CONGRATULATIONS MATT HIRSCHBIEL! WELCOME TO THE TEAM!
Stayed tuned for what LF has in store for next year…