Smoke on the Water
This past weekend, the finals of the Professional Wakeboard Tour went down in beautiful Reno, Nevada. The event was particularly appealing because not one, but two riders were coming in to the stop undefeated on the tour so far. With big money on the line, Nicola Butler and Phillip Soven were focused on making history. Instead of just giving you the results, here is a day to day account of all of the action, on and off the water that went down in the biggest little city in the world. Enjoy…
Friday July 11th
Fly into Reno in the early evening, only to be picked up by an ecstatic Ronix rep Jason Mendes. I’m going on a little tangent here, so bear with me. Jason had come straight from the bowling alley where he had bowled a 266, picking up 9s in the last two frames. Now anyone who has ever picked up a bowling ball knows how hard this is to do. Good luck on the PBA tour Mendes!
Sorry, back to the trip. As soon as I exited the airport I was greeted by a thick cloud of smoke. For those of you who are unaware, there are over 800 fires going on in Northern California. Now that’s gnarly. After checking in to the hotel, I headed downstairs o meet up with some of the riders. Upon arrival, I was informed that Big Spence (Spencer Smith) had consumed one too many adult sodas if you know what I mean. If you ever get the chance to party with Spence, I highly recommend it. Classic. After a few stories were told, it was time to crash out in anticipation of a long day to follow.
Saturday July 12th
We decided to wake up bright and early and head to the site to watch the Pro Women qualify. I walked out of the hotel, only to find it harder to breathe in the smoky air than the day before. Along with some absolutely stylish riding, the crowd was treated to some pretty intense crashes by the women (particularly on the rooftop rail). Let me take this opportunity to say that the new D.R.I.V.E. judging format on the tour is pretty rad. Never before in a contest have I seen so many backside 180s and grabs taken way out into the flats. Following the women, were the Junior Men. I remember when the Junior Men’s division was kind of a warm up for the big boys, but let me tell you, these kids have gotten good. Really, really good. They set the tone for the Pro Men, who finished out the day. One of the highlights was Danny Harf making his return in a very strong fashion to competitive wakeboarding after a back injury has sidelined him for most of 2008.
After a long day at the office, all of the riders were eager to head back to the casino and hit the tables. Unfortunately for me, as soon as I walked up to the Blackjack table I realized that I lost my fake I.D. (I know I’m a really bad person for having one). As a result, I had to pull a 180 and head to meet up with the Junior Men riders for an underage night of fun. After a brief “babe hunting” mission with Jacob Valdez and Steele Lafferty, we headed to Harley Clifford’s room where we watched the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Good movie, rent it. The night was capped of by a phone call from Mendes saying he won at the craps table and was buying ice cream downstairs. Ice cream before bed? Oh, you know I’m down.
Sunday July 13th
Ah yaaa, the day checks are handed out! The morning started out with Wake Church, hosted by Emily Copeland-Durham and Kevin Durham. After the service wrapped up, the action began on the water. Being as it was the last day of the Pro Tour season, everyone stepped up their game. After the semis, we took a quick lunch break before the finals. A sandwich place called Spicy Pickle was the official food sponsor of the stop. I have never seen so many spicy pickles in so many mouths. And let me tell you, they were delicious!
In the Junior Men division, Jimmy LaRiche barely edged out Harley Clifford for the win and overall season title. In Pro Women, it was the First Lady of wakeboarding Emily Copeland-Durham who was able to upset the undefeated Nicola Butler. Nicola still was able to hold on to the overall season title. In the Pro Men, Aaron Rathy, JD Webb, and Andrew Adkison all put up an incredible fight, but in the end, it was Phillip Soven taking the win. The win marked the completion of a perfect season on the Tour for Phillip. After a quick shower, I took one last deep breath of the smoke-filled air and hopped on my flight back to L.A. where the air is much, much cleaner. Congrats to all of the riders who treated fans to an exciting final stop. If you didn’t make it to a stop this season, make sure you catch one next year. Cheers!