Mother Nature couldn't have delivered a better day to kick off the 2009 season, as the Wake Games began today in Orlando at the Orlando Watersports Complex.
One of the more interesting events of today was the emergence of 15-year old Australian ripper Harley Clifford, who opted to ride in the Pro Men division instead of Junior Mens. Although his runs weren't completely polished, he stuck a toeside 720 and toeside 900, showing the confidence needed to hang with the big boys. It will be interesting to see how this young shredder will ride during the rest of the weekend.
The world's best competitive wakeskater, Brian Grubb, looked unstoppable today, taking first in his heat with super-clean Grubby style. Another cool event was the Pro Womens riding. A lot of the Pro Men riders were commenting that the girls are really stepping it up this year. Look for Dallas Friday, Amber Wing, Nicola Butler, Raimi Merritt and Melissa Marquardt to have a serious showdown this weekend.
Our personal favorite event was the new, "Pro Veterans" division. Basically, if you've ever ridden pro and done well in the past, but don't want to challenge today's top riders, this is the event for you. We saw some blasts from past competitive years, like Gregg Necrason's huge melon/mute 180, along with Ricky Gonzalez pulling a Pete and switch Pete. Glen Fletcher also killed it, going huge… and Scott Hussey also made a good appearance. Hopefully more of these riders will turn up for the next event (like Cobe Mikacich, The Heaney Brothers, etc…)
Right now, the Rockstar Winch Jam is underway across the lake. It is stop number one on the Byerly Toe Jam Wakeskate Series. Three winches are involved and the pool-to-lake action is just getting underway. Today is just practice and Friday night will be the main event.
Saturday night will be the Billabong Out Of The Pond Premiere at 8 p.m. on Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. Sunday night will be the premiere of Collin Harrington's Box Of Fun at The Social.
Overall, today was a great day to be a wakeboarder in Orlando. The early-season vibe is super cool and everybody is psyched to ride and have as much fun as possible. A "draft" will take place Friday night, where team captains will pick their team and the true Wake Games will begin. Stay tuned!