October 1-4, 2008--It was a fantastic week at Ski West Village in Bakersfield, CA. The event started with a bang on Wednesday morning with a heart warming opening ceremonies boat parade and flag presentation by the South High School ROTC. There were four days of intense competition, where each participant was given two rounds to post their best score. The week ended with a poolside dinner, Polynesian dancing, and an inspirational awards ceremony on Saturday night.
There were 42 first place finishers, but everyone went home a champion. Twelve competitors had excellent performances and bumped into higher divisions at the Championships. The competitors ranged in age from 7 all the way up to Bud Stark who is now in his early 70's. The sportsmanship was of the highest quality, from mini outlaw to Super Open; every participant went out and performed to their best ability.
Sandy Abrams from Kansas said her favorite experience was: "Watching both of my sons compete at exactly the same time! Over 400 competitors and I am running from one side of the Kansas tent to the other cheering as I watch Alex kneeboard on one lake at exactly the same time that Taylor was competing on the other lake. What are the odds?? The icing on the cake was to find out that both boys won 1st place at exactly the same time! That is a memory that I will have forever!"
Team Southern California won the Team Award for the most podium finishes, Arkansas State Coordinators Missy and Brett Bristow carried home a huge trophy for the Team Spirit Award. Correct Craft won for the Best of Booth, they had a great "California Dreamin" booth, sporting a woodie boat and surf theme. Three $1,000 scholarships were awarded to students who completed an essay about how the INT League has affected their lives.
Will Asher wins the INT Pro Slalom division! The best of the best came out to Ski West to compete side by side with the INT competitors. On the slalom starting dock was Terry Winter, Thomas Moore, Will Asher, Chris Rossi, Jill Knutson and Adam Caldwell. It was a showdown of the epic proportions. Jill took a six ball handicap to compete with the guys. Will Asher took home INT gold with a score of 1.5 buoys at 41 off, 36mph. INT veteran Chris Rossi took the silver with a score of 5 buoys at 39.5 off, 36mph. New mom, Jill Knutson took the bronze with a score of 3.5 buoys at 38 off, 34mph. The pros could be found in their sponsor booths signing autographs and offering ski tips.
The wakeboard lake was also full of excitement. Alex Scagliotti has been riding in INT events since he was eight years old. He started out in Jr. Novice and this year he took first place in Men's Pro Wakeboard. It was a proud moment for the INT family. "The whole experience was great; the wakeboard side went so smooth. Props out to all the coordinators and volunteers for making this USC the best one I've been to. My favorite moment was seeing my son stand on top of the podium in Pro men wakeboard. Thanks," says Alex's father, Randy Scagliotti.
Long time INT rider Andrew Shear from Indiana took second place, followed by Clay Fraley from Arkansas in third place. In Women's Pro Wakeboard, Danni Petraitis took home the gold, followed by Jasmine Lally in second; Shawna Hoffman, runner up in the 2007 INT US Championships came in third. The competition was steeper then ever, these riders were judged on the tricks they completed, amplitude, variety, composition, and technicality in their trick run.
The week had many highlights, including exhibitions by pro riders. "My favorite experience was watching Road Kill Hartshorn killing it on the kneeboard," said pro wakeboarder Nick Weinacker.
Pro Slalom Skier Will Asher said his favorite experience was "Hanging out at Chuys on Friday Night and coaching INT skiers on the demo lake." HO Sports and Hyperlite wakeboards sponsored the demo lake where INT members could get some coaching and test new gear. On Friday night, Will was found signing autographs and giving away free HO and Hyperlite gear at a VIP party for INT participants at Chuys Restaurant down the road from the host hotel.
Pro Skier Rhoni Barton-Bischoff and Greg Badal made an appearance at the event to sign autographs and do some coaching. Rhoni Barton-Bischoff tested the intellect of the INT participants and gave away Costa Del Mar Sunglasses to winners of trivia questions. Pro wakeboarders Andrew Adkison, Erik Ruck, and Emily Copeland Durham were at the Championships signing autographs and performing exhibitions all week. Andrew Adkison was spotted playing ping pong with kids in the CWB Booth and giving away Oakley sunglasses to the winners. Emily Copeland-Durham gave a moving testimony at the In His Wakes Morning of Champions Chapel in the Correct Craft Booth.
Special thanks to our national and local sponsors for coming out and having great booths. Local sponsors: Double Tree Hotel, Hi Sound Energy, MTX Audio, The Wakeboard Camp, Learn Wake.com, UGP, In His Wakes, Michael Hayes Jewelers, Monster Energy Drinks, and WakeSurfSkate.com.
The INT League is an organization that hosts amateur and pro waterski, wakeboard, kneeboard, and wake skate tournaments nationwide. For more information please see the INT website at www.intleague.com.