Day Four Shapes-Up Final Heats at Air Nautique Nationals
Kenosha, Wis. - With seven national titles still up for grabs at the 2008 Air Nautique WWA Wakeboard National Championships, presented by Rockstar Energy Drink, the top riders in the United States hit the waters of Lake Andrea at Prairie Springs Park in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. today to vie for a spot in tomorrow's finals.
In the Pro Men's Division, 60 riders battled it out on the water in the quarterfinals, competing in 10 heats of six with only the top-two riders in each heat advancing onto tomorrow's semifinals. Rusty Malinoski, JD Webb and Bryan Hutton all posted perfect scores of 100 points, despite strong winds and choppy water conditions, to lead their heats and move onto to the next round. The three flawless riders will be joined by the 17 other semifinalists tomorrow for the final day of the contest.
"It was just crazy riding conditions today, the wind kept picking-up and the water was just rugged," said Webb. "I just laid down run and stuck my landings and the rest is history."
The Pro Women's Division took to the water today for their semifinals, where last year's National titlist Amber Wing threw down a near perfect run, leading her heat with a score of 97.75, the highest score of the day in her division. Barrett Perlman of Stuart, Fla. and 2007 Pro Tour champ Shelby Kantar of Sacramento, Calif. rounded out the top-three riders, respectively in Wing's heat, claiming three of the six spots in tomorrow's finals.
In the other Pro Women's Division heat, Queen of Wake Rookie of the Year frontrunner Raimi Merritt of Lantana, Fla. upset top-ranked rider and five-time national champ Dallas Friday of Orlando, Fla. for the top spot in her heat. Merritt, Friday and Air Nautique's own Melissa Marquardt of Canyon Lake, Calif. finished in the top-three, respectively in their heat, earning the final three spots in tomorrow's six-woman final.
"Today was the first time this year that I led my heat, so I'm pretty stoked about it," said Merritt. "Taking the lead over Dallas was pretty sweet because now I can sit back for the first couple of runs in the finals and see what tricks the other girls are throwing before I ride."
Current national wakeskate champion Reed Hansen of Groveland, Fla. looked to make a splash out on the water today in the Pro Wakeskate Division semifinals, but windy weather conditions prevented the 2007 world champ from producing a winning run. Hansen finished second in his heat, behind fellow Floridian Brandon Thomas of Orlando.
"Obviously, things could have gone better out there today, but there's not much you can do when the wind kicks up like that," said Hansen. "Brandon threw down today and you can't discredit that either, but hopefully things will go my way in the finals."
As the top-two riders in their heat, both Hansen and Thomas will advance onto tomorrow's finals, where they will face off against two-time national champ Brian Grubb of Nashua, NH and 2008 Pro-Am wakeskate winner Stuart Shinn of Bradenton, Fla. in a four-man final for the 2008 national title.
The youngest group of riders out on the water today, the Jr. Boys Division, held their semifinals, where eight rippers, ages nine and under, competed in two heats of four with only the top-two riders in each heat advancing onto tomorrow's finals. Ben Watts, 9, of Wetumpka, Ala. posted the highest score of the day in his division with a 61.67. Watts and the three other finalists will vie for the division's national title in tomorrow's finals.
In the Boys Division, 10 rippers, ages 10 to 13, battled it out on the water in two heats of five with only the top-three riders from each heat moving onto tomorrow's finals. Kyle Evans, 13, of Orlando, Fla. posted the highest score of the day in his division with 80 points. Evans and the five other riders moving onto the next round will vie for the division's national title in tomorrow's finals.
The nationals will conclude tomorrow, Sunday Aug. 10 beginning at 10 a.m.
The Air Nautique WWA Wakeboard National Championships, presented by Rockstar Energy Drink is a five-day carnival of water-sports action. But not all the action takes place on the water. On land, fans will experience tons of great music and food; athlete autograph signings; chances to win free giveaways; and shopping at the most cutting-edge stores for water-sports equipment including boats, wakeboards, wakeskates, sunglasses and the latest in wakeboarding and surfing fashions. Admission is free and the event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
To catch all the wakeboarding action from home, tune in to FUEL TV. For exact air dates, visit www.KingofWake.com.
FUEL TV is a 24/7 action-sports lifestyle network for wakeboarding, skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, BMX and freestyle motocross. A unit of Fox Cable Networks, FUEL TV was launched July 1, 2003, and is seen in 25 million U.S. homes. To subscribe to FUEL TV, call 877-4-FUEL-TV. For program times and other information, visit www.fuel.tv.
The Air Nautique by Correct Craft is the exclusive tow boat of the WWA Nationals. Celebrating more than 80 years of excellence in the marine industry, Correct Craft is a family-owned manufacturer of internationally acclaimed, competition-caliber water-ski and wakeboard boats, as well as boats for recreational enjoyment. Correct Craft Inc. is known for superior-quality products, cutting-edge technology and innovative hull designs.
Rockstar is the world's most powerful energy drink. Developed to improve the recovery time of those who lead active and exhausting lifestyles, Rockstar Energy Drink is available in 10 flavors -- Original, Sugar Free, Juiced, Zero Carb, Guava, Pomegranate, Punched, Roasted Mocha, Roasted Vanilla Light and Roasted Latte -- at convenience stores and retail grocery outlets across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and the United Kingdom.
WakeBoarding, published by Bonnier Corp., is the official magazine of the Air Nautique WWA Wakeboard National Championships, presented by Rockstar Energy Drink. WakeBoarding is the definitive source on all things wakeboarding, with expert coverage of professional instruction, gear, boats and the latest news.
The Air Nautique WWA Wakeboard National Championships, presented by Rockstar Energy Drink is organized by World Sports & Marketing of Orlando, Fla. The WWA Nationals have the support of the following sponsors: Correct Craft, Rockstar Energy Drink, PCM, Fox, Mona Vie, the U.S. Air Force, Hyperlite, CWB, Gator Boards, Ronix, Oakley, Reef, Cire, wakeworld.com, wakeboarder.com and theliquidcircus.com.