The elite guest list has been finalized for one of the most anticipated events of the year, the Malibu Just Ride Series. The inaugural event will hit Austin, Texas on May 19-20 at Decker Lake.
For those who don't know, the Just Ride Series is wakeboarding for the masses, pulled by Malibu's top-class wakeboarding boats with howling Indmar engines. Professional riders gathering together to have fun in the sun and show wakeboarding fans what kind of sick tricks (sick meaning good) they can pull when they are judged by their peers. That's right, this event will be pros judging pros.
The list of riders begins at the top with Darin Shapiro for the men and Dallas Friday for the women. Not a bad 1-2 punch considering Shapiro and Friday have owned the early part of the 2001 pro wakeboard season. The duo has shut out the rest of the Pro Tour, winning the first two events in 2001.
Friday has even added one of the jewels of the Triple Crown after winning the Ford Ranger Wakeboarding Pro, the first major event of the season. This 14-year-old phenom has impressed everyone in water sports, especially her boat sponsor Malibu, since she started as a professional in 2000, and she will be out to show Austin what she is all about.
Joining Shapiro and Friday will be a host of wakeboarding's elite riders. First there's the group known as the Dodgy Aussies, three riders who hail from the land down under, Australia, and who know how to rip it up on a wake. This trio is Brett Eisenhauer, Josh Sanders and Daniel Watkins. Every other week these guys are taking turns on the victor's podium. Most recently it was Sanders with a second at the Ford Ranger Pro.
Three more men rounding out the mix are Rob Struharik, Ricky Gonzales and Gerry Nunn. These guys have been at the top of the sport for a while, performing with a special flair that will be perfect for the Just Ride Series.
Brian Grubb has been added to the mix to round out the eight pre-qualified men's riders in the event. Grubb brings a little something different to the mix as a wakeskater. Wakeskating is becoming a big deal as a cross between wakeboarding and skateboarding. The wakeskate board rides more like a skateboard with no bindings. In many ways wakeskating goes back to early wakeboarding when surfboards were towed behind boats. Many pro wakeboarders have tried wakeskating, enjoying the freedom of feet not attached to the board.
For the women, Emily Copeland will join Friday as the other pre-qualified woman in the Just Ride Austin stop. Copeland has been battling Friday throughout 2001, and has proven to be one of the few riders to give her a scare. Now Copeland and Friday will be thrown into the mix for the fun of it with the rest of the riders.
Joining this crew will be four riders, two men and two women, who prove themselves in front of this elite crew of riders. Two men and women will challenge their way into the event on Saturday morning. The Challenge portion of the event will be judged by the riders themselves, along with the rest of the event. Riders who prove themselves worthy to their peers will be admitted into the rest of the weekend's festivities, and have a chance to participate in the men's and women's Just Ride.
Now that the guest list is set, everyone is cordially invited to attend what will be one of the most enjoyable events of the year. For fans it is an opportunity to feel like they are part of the show. These pros will be the center of the action, trying things they normally reserve for private lakes at home where no one else is watching. Spectators will leave the event having seen things they could only wish to do.