Just outside of Reno, Miden, Nevada births an event for wakeboarding's future in America. Western Oasis Wakeplace goes above and beyond with their first annual event and the first contest of its kind held in the United States.
WOW's new step up, step down lakes are now finished with a number of different rail options to choose from between the two lakes. The "step" between the lakes is located underneath a System 2.0 two-tower cable setup for your water boarding pleasure. There are transfers, pool gaps, wall rides, rails, drops and whatever else you can get clever with out there. If you get to see this thing in person, you will understand why I say that it’s a wakeboarders wet dream! Doug and Lisa Lippincott were outstanding hosts for their first-ever pro contest held on the new System park.
The event started of with open registration for any and all competitors willing to put their bodies on the line against some of the top rail riders in wakeboarding and a first prize payout of $2,000 cash money money. Competitors from all over were there to battle it out for the prize. Flying all the way out from Florida was heavy hitter, Nate Perry. Also coming from quite the distance away was southern California’s own Eddie Valdez with a Humanoid teammate that you might haven’t seen in a while, but has made his way back to the water, Tino Santori. Eddie wasn’t the only Californian though. Nick V, Jarrett Brantley and I were also there to represent from the Nor Cal side. Other big competitors were WOW locals Ryan Lippincott, Anton Ryzenkov, Nick Abreu and Max Thompson. Everyone with their own unique style and different tricks made for a perfect match up in this unique contest.
Once all the riders were in order, we had a meeting to discuss the judging format to try and figure out the best way to judge such a unique type of contest. It became a unanimous decision and the format went like this...
- All 10 riders are randomly selected out of a hat into two separate heats of five riders.
- Each rider takes turns being pulled in the order they were chosen and given three runs in each heat and four passes in each run.
- Riders are judged on style, technicality and use of course.
- No falls. If the rider falls, then the run is over and the handle goes to the next rider. The fallen rider gets back into the line if the rider has more runs to complete.
- Each rider is scored on their overall performance of the run. Best run of three counts.
- After each round of runs in a heat are finished, a placement standing is announced to let the riders and spectators know where the riders are currently seeded before taking their next run of the heat.
- There is one head judge who judges with the riders of the opposite heat. All judges must stay together and discuss the outcome before releasing the final standings of the heat.
- Each heat takes top three to finals
- The standings of the heat will decide the riding order in the finals. Top seed goes last.
- Finals will be judged with the head judge and the two riders from each heat that did not advance to finals. Judges must discuss outcome before releasing final standings.
Sounds simple enough, right? It was! It worked like a charm and made everything run smoothly. It was a pretty cool concept as well, since it was a riders-judged event, but not from the riders that you were currently competing against.
First heat up was a tough battle between Tino Santori, Eddie Valdez, Nick V, Anton Ryzenkoz and Max Thompson. Tino started things off smooth and simple to make sure he got that solid run in before he got crazy! By his third run he hit a solid four passes with full pulls on all of his dirty hits and even had a huge frontside 180 onto the big transfer gap.
Eddie, on the other hand, came out of the gates swinging! Eddie consistently scored high with his unique wall ride to down rail going up to the top lake, and his 270 out of the long transfer to kink. Eddie was clearly the guy to beat for most of the heat, but was being chased the entire way by Nick V.
There was no doubt that Nick V stole the show when he finally hit his massive back lip down the big transfer gap. Before the contest started, that gap was talked about as only being a possibility. Well, Nick clearly proved it was possible and even made it look easy. Although he had his gnarly gap, the rest of his run ended up not being exactly what he wanted. However, with some clean hits, Nick brought a solid run to the table and forced Anton to really step his game up.
Anton, with his home court advantage, was no stranger to the course. He used the outside pool gap to hop in and out of to make a different kind of transfer that no one else was even trying. Add that with some locked in front boards and wall rides and you got yourself a run to look out for.
It wasn’t until Canadian Max Thompson finally got into the groove after falling out on his first two runs to come back with an unbeatable third run. Max actually was one of the main guys who poured his sweat and blood into building the structure, so it was inevitable that he was going to shred it as hard as he did. Not only did he back lip the entire 80-foot kink rail, but he also got a 270 out of it! Max clearly wasn’t done with a few hard way 270 transfers and a switch back lip on the outside battleship that would make you think that it was a regular one. It was as clear as day that Max took the win in heat number one with Eddie and Tino joining him in the finals.
The next heat was no picnic for any of the riders either. Heat #2 consisted of Ryan Lippincott, Nick Abreu, Nate Perry, Jarret Brantley and myself. This was Ryan's first time competing in a professional event and although he had some nerves, he did a really good job of not letting them show out on the water. It could have been that he was riding in his own front yard or it was his big wall ride transfers, back lips and backside 180 transfers that proved he wasn’t just the newbie, but the newbie who might be taking your place in the finals.
Ryan's good friend and riding buddy, Nick Abreu, on the other hand, had some struggles early on trying to fight off the nerves, but jumped back into the game on his second run to leave a solid impression with the judges and keep the pressure on Jarrett Brantley.
Jarrett had some falls early on as well and seemed to be having a hard time with the massive battleship, but really pulled it together and showed Nate and I that he wasn’t planning on going anywhere.
Nate and I had quite the battle as I set the bar on my first run for the entire. It was a good feeling for me since I was last in the heat and got to see if my run was still holding or not after each round. Although I got some good practice hits in for the finals on my later runs, I also left the gate wide open for Nate to break out.
It wasn’t until Nate's third and final run of the heat when everything finally went as planned for him with his perfect backside 180 transfers, technical battleship tricks and smooth 80-foot kink rail hits. It was Nate taking the win in heat #2 and top spot in the finals with Ryan and I tagging along.
The finals took place shortly after the second heat was finished. Finals consisted of Eddie Valdez, Ryan Lippincott, Tino Santori, Max Thompson, Myself and Nate Perry. Since Nate was the top seed into finals, he decided to go first instead of last, which changed the order and made me last off the dock.
Things started off with a bang when Nate came out with a heavy hitting first run filled with technical hits and solid presses. After Nate's run, everyone knew it was going to be a rough road ahead. Eddie wasn’t scared though.
Ed pushed through with an outstanding run of his own showing off his consistent transfer 270s and perfect wall ride to down rail combos.
Humanoid wakeboards clearly had a few consistency meetings before coming to this contest because Tino Santori showed that he could take his giant 180 transfer to a 270 and make it look easy so everyone would go nuts.
That big transfer really put the pressure on Ryan though as he wasn’t about to get beaten on his home cable in front of his own mom and dad. Ryan rose to the occasion yet again with his effortless wall ride lines and solid transfer hits. Ryan was really showing everyone that he is damn well good enough for that podium.
But Ryan was definitely not the only one who wanted to show he deserved to be up there. Max was ready to do his thing and his thing was to absolutely destroy everything in his way. I have never seen someone so consistent on the 80-foot kink than Max. Every run in the finals he got the whole thing along with his difficult transfers and technical switch tricks. The kid was on fire and he wouldn’t go in the water to cool off because he just couldn’t fall!
It had come down to Nate and I to battle it out on the final run yet again. I had beaten Nate's opening run on my second run to knock him down in second place for the remaining round. It had come down to Nate's last chance to beat my score, but somehow he popped the handle on a perfect opening battleship hit to end his chances and give me the victory lap. I still got to air the biggest 360 of my life, but it was good knowing that my second run held up to take the win! The contest came to an end without one disappointed look on anyone's face...just more of a satisfied and let's get the hell out of this Nevada sun look.
Before the awards took place, all the riders got to watch and judge a bikini contest held by WOW and Twisted Candi bikinis on stage in front of the lake. The girls exited from a fully loaded X-Star and walked up on stage wearing practically nothing…clearly it was rad! But not only was that rad, but they announced all the riders in order from fifth to first on stage and the winner got to stand next to the bikini contest winner! Mmmm, now that’s how podiums should be!
The standings went as follows...
1. Kaesen Suyderhoud ($2,000)
2. Nate Perry ($1,000)
3. Max Thompson ($500)
4. Ryan Lippincott ($250)
5. Tino Santori ($250)
6. Eddie Valdez
I was excited to take the win, especially since it was such a close one between Max, Nate and I, but also because it capped off a fun-filled contest season for me with all of my friends. Everyone rode really well, stayed safe and enjoyed their time, so it ended up being one hell of an event that we are all looking forward to next year. Big thanks to WOW for holding the event and hopefully starting a regular contest trend for others in the years to come.