Orlando, Florida (September 20, 2004) – The top competitors in the sport of wakeboarding will again head to the Orlando WaterSports Complex in south Orlando September 30-October 3 for the finish of the 2004 competitive wakeboarding season during the Vans WWA Wakeboard World Championship, the third and final stop of the Vans Triple Crown of Wakeboarding Series.
It was just a year ago at Orlando WaterSports Complex when defending World Champion Shaun Murray shocked the wakeboarding world by announcing his retirement after winning the 2003 Mountain Dew WWA Wakeboard World Championship. Looking back now, Murray’s announcement foreshadowed the new direction in the sport of wakeboarding.
As the 2004 season draws to a close, young riders rule the sport. Just a year ago, Murray, a 10-year veteran of the sport won his second World Championship, a very close victory over Darin Shapiro, the most successful wakeboarder in the sports history who is closing out his 13th year of pro wakeboarding in 2004.
Now Murray and Shapiro have been replaced by Phillip Soven and Tino Santori, the next generation of wakeboarding greats. Soven and Santori are in first and second place respectively in the Men’s Vans Triple Crown season standings. The Vans Triple Crown Standings track the performance of the competitors across the three-event series.
At just 15, Soven, born and raised in the Orlando area, has taken the wakeboarding world by storm in 2004 winning three events, including the X Games. A win at the season-ending World Championship would also give Soven the 2004 Vans Triple Crown of Wakeboarding Championship as the top rider in the three-event series.
A World Championship won’t come easy. Santori, who is second in the Vans Triple Crown standings, won the Vans WWA Wakeboard National Championship at Indianapolis in August. Santori is only 20-years-old, but has less experience in the pro ranks than Soven. Santori turned pro in 2003 and took home Rookie of the Year honors. Soven turned pro in 2001 at the age of 11.
Just behind Soven and Santori in the standings are three of the world’s top riders Parks Bonifay, Chad Sharpe and defending Vans Triple Crown Champion Danny Harf. All three are in striking distance of Soven and Santori. Of the three, only Sharpe made it to the finals of the National Championships. That should leave Harf and Bonifay hungry for the World Championship.
In the women’s competition, Dallas Friday, an Orlando native has become a name known throughout Action Sports. Friday recently took the women’s National Championship and the ESPN ESPY award for top female Action Sports athlete, making Friday the most respected female Action Sport athlete in the world.
Friday is leading the Vans Triple Crown women’s standings, after winning both events in the Vans Triple Crown in 2004. She will be challenged Tara Hamilton, the winningest wakeboarder in women’s history, who seems to be catching her stride again after three years of injury and rehab. Hamilton has finished second to Friday in the last two events, the X Games and Nationals.
While the pro divisions will garner the most attention, they are only part of the story at the Vans WWA Wakeboard World Championship, the event also features the top amateur wakeboarders from around the world in 13 age divisions. Competitors range from 5 to 50 years of age.
The event is the largest of its kind in the world with nearly 300 competitors expected to descend on Orlando for four days of competition. The event is really two events in one with the top amateur divisions competing September 30-October 1, and then making way for the pro divisions who will entertain fans throughout the weekend, October 2-3.
The sport of wakeboarding has skyrocketed in popularity over the past ten years making it the fastest growing watersport in the world. Pro Wakeboarding is much like snowboarding with a similar style of board and bindings. Athletes (called riders) perform Big Air tricks behind the Correct Craft Super Air Nautique, special boats with weight in the back to create a gigantic wake for riders to do flips, twists, turns and inverts. There will also be a “jib park”, or floating skate park out on the water so that competitors can add to their performance by sliding and grinding on rails and performing flips off various ramps.
The Vans Triple Crown of Wakeboarding, the largest wakeboarding series in the sport, consists of three championship-caliber events:
Vans Wakeboard Pro June 19-20 Fox Sports Net - July 15, 4 pm
WWA Wakeboard Nationals August 19-22 Fox Sports Net - Sept. 16, 4 pm
WWA Wakeboard Worlds Sept. 30-Oct. 3 Fox Sports Net - Oct. 26, 4 pm
The Vans Triple Crown Series is made possible through the support of Ford Trucks, Right Guard, Mountain Dew, NBC Sports and Fox Sports Net. The Vans Triple Crown Series features the world’s top athletes participating in premier venues throughout North America for the top prize purse in each of six action sports: Skateboarding, Wakeboarding, BMX, Freestyle Motocross, Surfing and Snowboarding.
Additional promotional support provided by: SeaDoo watercraft, Perfect Pass, Hyperlite, Toyo Tires, KMC Wheels, Verizon Wireless, Liquid Force, Gator Boards, CWB, Jobe, Double-up, Blindside, JoyRide, O’Brien, Cassette Wakeskates, 484 Wakeskates, Billabong, Reef, Body Glove, UGP, Epiphone Guitars, OJ Props, Chipper Beef Jerky, Bare Wetsuits, buywake.com, Love Sac, Capix Helmets, Indo Boards, Straight Line, Nevin, ten-80, Toyo Tires, KMC Wheels, Verizon Wireless, Execute, Wakeworld.com, Wakeboarder.com, Monster Towers, Say I Won’t and One Percent Design.
Wake Boarding, published by World Publications, is the official magazine of the Pro Wakeboard Tour. Wake Boarding is the definitive source on all things wakeboarding, with expert coverage of professional instruction, gear, boats and the latest news.