After a wet and wild stop in Fort Worth that left many top contenders in the wake of rookie riders, the veteran athletes of the King of Wake series are looking at Texas as a wake-up call for their upcoming event in Wisconsin.
Usual podium-toppers JD Webb, Rusty Malinoski and defending King of Wake champion Phillip Soven are slowly sinking in the series standings, after uncharacteristic performances in Texas. The trio of top riders are looking to redeem themselves when they hit the waters of Lake Andrea at Prairie Springs Park on June 19-21 for the third event of the 2009 series, the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour stop in Pleasant Prairie, Wis.
“Texas was crazy. I was definitely caught off guard by some of the other riders there,” said Webb, who was knocked out of the Fort Worth contest before the quarterfinals. “I have to look at [Fort Worth] as a wake-up call going into the next contest.”
Webb, who dropped from fifth place to 12th in the King of Wake standings, also faces the possibility of not qualifying into the remaining three Pro Tour stops, should he have a lackluster performance in Pleasant Prairie.
Wisconsin is the last event for qualifying rounds, in which athletes need to rank within the top 38 to qualify into the remaining Pro Tour stops. Webb is currently ranked 31st in the Pro Tour standings – a separate standings list from the King of Wake series.
Other top veterans also face the possibility of not qualifying into future Pro Tour stops. They include Shawn Watson, Randall Harris, Chad Sharpe and Shane Bonifay, who all finished within the top 20 in the 2008 Pro Tour standings.
“A lot of us haven’t been in this position in a long time, but the fact is that a lot of new talent is popping up on Tour and we need to step up our riding if we want to continue competing,” said Watson, who finished in fifth place in 2008 and currently ranks 32nd in the Pro Tour standings. “We need to put Fort Worth behind us and be ready to throw down in Wisconsin.”
Rookie phenom Harley Clifford enters Pleasant Prairie as the top-seeded rider after taking first place in Fort Worth. Clifford and the rest of the top 16 riders in the Pro Tour standings are exempt from the qualifiers on Friday, June 19, and will hit the water for Saturday’s round of 40.
With rookies riding like top contenders and veterans looking to redeem themselves, things are sure to heat up on the waters of Pleasant Prairie.