Mike Ennen taking top honors at the Alliance 2012 Method Contest as seen in Issue 12.8.
What is it about the method that says everything about someone’s style? We don’t necessarily have the answer to this question but we do know that every time a photo or video of a well-executed method comes across our plate, we are ready for seconds. The method is like an appetizer for the main course. You look forward to it every time. It’s a timeless move that bridges the gap between every boardsport and allows us all to relate to one another on a level of style and simplicity. An outsider may say, “So what, it’s just a grab.” But really it’s so much more. For some this is hard to really understand, but if you’ve ever done one yourself then you know the feeling. It can take years to perfect this move, but once you do, it brings endless joy to your riding experience. After hundreds of methods, riders still break a smile after perfectly executing one. The method is not the moneymaker in a contest setting but it is the trick that “get’s em every time,” especially when it comes to photo shoots. It was for all of the reasons above and Alliance’s specific love the move that we decided to host the method contest this summer.
When we sent out the invitations to the method contest we decided to mix things up a bit and invite a wide variety of guys. Some free ride oriented, some contest kings, and Randall. The problem we’ve been running into with our events lately is that if you invite Randall, everyone else is really just competing for 2nd place. This was the case for the Less Than Five contest we hosted in the spring and would surely be the case for the method contest as well. Why? Because after 20 years of riding wakeboards he has perfected style on the water. Sure there were other guys in the event who have worthy methods, but most of them don’t charge double ups 20 feet out into the flats. It’s nearly impossible to judge Randall against anyone else because his riding is a beast all its own. This is exactly why the rest of the competitors were thrilled when Randall decided he would like to judge the event rather than ride. Who could be a better judge of a trick so unique than the guy who mastered them over a decade ago? Throw Parks Bonifay and Gregg Necrason into the boat and you have an all-star panel of judges and over 70 years of combined experience.
Invitees: Who and Why…
Raph Derome: All-around stylish rider. We hadn’t seen a whole lot of his method, but knew he had something up his sleeve.
Oli Derome: Great method (it recently graced the cover of this magazine). He throws it a bit out the back but the main thing here is the board to body size ratio.
Jimmy LaRiche: We’ve never seen him do a method, but he brought the boat, Sooo…
Chris O’Shea: Another great method. He points it down a bit towards the water, and does several different variations.
Brenton Priestley: Brenton’s method is more stylish than most because when he flashes the bottom of the board to the boat, it says “Byerly” really big, which automatically make you think of style. Plus Brenton has really thin ankles, which are a major advantage for methods.
Jeff Langley: We haven’t seen him do a lot of methods either, but his style is developing quickly and he pulled the boat out of the lake while Jimmy was taking a nap. Sooo…
Jeff McKee: Has had at least 30 methods published in his career. We’re pretty sure it’s his only trick.
Shawn Watson: Shawn is a master of style. All his moves are smooth and grabbed perfectly, including his method.
Rusty Malinoski: Hates losing, so if there were ever a time to crank out a legit method this would be it.
Mike Ennen: It’s his favorite trick in snowboarding and in wakeboarding. He comes from the Northwest and hangs with some of the most stylish snowboarders whose moves have rubbed off on him over the years.
Dylan Miller: He’s Canadian and a vegetarian and we thought it would be nice to give the vegetarian Canadians a chance at winning something.
Shane Bonifay: Shane has always had a great method, and rivals McKee for the most published straight grab shots in print. He really kicks his hard and arches his back just right too.
Harley Clifford: Has been impressing us lately with his style. He’s usually just blurry when he’s in the air, but as he’s matured he has started to mix in a fair amount of solid grabs and pokes.
Jeff House: Has that crab style with wide knees and hooked arms. Also he rides for Slingshot, and it’s pretty much a requirement to have a legit method to be on their team.
Aaron Rathy: Has a legit method, and also thrives off competition no matter what the parameters may be. His hair is also very stylish, although when he first started growing it out it looked a bit too Asian for our taste.
To get underway we drew names out of a hat and established the running order. We had Jimmy LaRiche’s Nautique G23 for the event which offered crisp double ups in the waist-to-chest-high range. We had considered making this contest a wake-to-wake format, but decided that the X-factor of the double up would make for bigger and better methods, and also better spills. One of the hardest things about a method is keeping your body under control and avoiding losing your center of balance in the middle of the move. The double up would further test the riders’ control and ability to execute a flawless method.
We were a bit surprised to see how many of the riders had trouble keeping their methods flat (which is what the judges were looking for). Several guys were getting pulled forward and drifting their methods out behind them, but the judges were looking for the original upright method on this day, staying flat and controlled. Some other riders had a hard time keeping in the stance they took off from, instead having to do a 180 out and land, which was also against the rules. Out of the 15 riders there were about seven or eight guys that really nailed solid attempts. Chris O’Shea and Brenton Priestley were favorites coming into the event but both had difficulties stomping a clean landing. Rusty actually came close to some good ones but kept on taking it to fakie (Watson faced a similar problem). Shane had two solid hits, as did Oli Derome, but none could overshadow Raph Derome, Jeff McKee and Mikey Ennen who all went for the biggest rollers, grabbed clean and landed clean and grabbed the top three spots in the final ranking.
There are some instances in life when less is more. The method contest was one of those instances. Congratulations to the top three riders and all the rest of the competitors. Thanks to Parks Bonifay, Gregg Necrason, Randall Harris and Nautique boats for supporting the event. You’ve officially got one whole year before the next one, so take some time away from those 720’s and 900’s to perfect your method. It pays all across the board.
1st – Mikey Ennen
2nd – Jeff McKee
3rd – Raph Derome