Orlando, Fla. - The top wake athletes on the planet took to the waters of the Orlando Watersports Complex in Orlando, Fla. today for the opening rounds of the 2009 Air Nautique Wake Games, presented by ROCKSTAR. The four-day-long pro-am wakeboard event kicked off today with qualifying rounds for several pro and amateur divisions, eliminating a majority of the competition in the process.
Only the crème of the crop survived the opening rounds, earning them an invitation to the Wake Games Team Draft and advancing onto their respective division's following round in the contest.
At the Wake Games Team Draft, ten preselected team captains will draft qualifying athletes to field a ten-person team. Athletes will contribute points toward a team score based on their final placement in their respective divisions. The team with the highest score will take home the team title and prize money.
Nearly 50 riders within ten heats hit the water today for the Pro Men's division qualifiers. Only the top-two riders in each heat advanced, sending a majority of the competition home. Canadian young gun, Olivier Derome posted the high score of the day with a 97.25 to advance along with the 19 other riders to the following round and invitations to the draft.
Raimi Merrit (Lantana, FL), Dallas Friday (Orlando, FL) and Nicola Butler (Bournemouth, England) led each of the three heats in the Pro Women's division today with Butler posting a perfect score. The three leaders plus six other riders from today's qualifiers will enter the draft and compete in semifinals on Saturday, April 25.
17 athletes fielded the four heats of the Pro Wakeskate division qualifiers today. Each heat featured at least four athletes and only the top-two from each heat advanced. Three-time Wake Games Pro Wakeskate champ Brian Grubb, who led his heat of five today, will be joined by seven other semifinalists in the draft. Pro Wakeskate semifinals will be held on Saturday.
The Pro Women's Wakeskate division took to the water today for their quarterfinals with only the top-three shredders in the five-woman heat advancing onto Saturday's finals. All three finalists will be drafted.
West-side rider Ricky Gonzales paced the Pro Veterans division today with Glen Fletcher and Gregg Necrason joining Gonzales in the finals on Sunday, April 26.
Ten young, talented shredders hit the water in two heats of five for the Amateur Wakeskate division qualifiers today. Only the top-two athletes from each heat advanced, setting up a four-man final for Matt Haydon, Aaron Perkins, Patrick Mulvaney and Forrest Risner on Saturday.
The Wake Games will continue tomorrow, April 24 with 14 amateur division competing before the Team Draft is held.
Tickets are available online at www.allisports.com, and at the gate: $10.00 (GA); $5.00 (ages 6-12); Free (ages 5 & under). The event will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on all four days.