After all the airborne spins mixed with a variety of grab tricks -- sometimes leading to hard, run-ending flops in the water -- Manitoba's riders proved they are a wakeboarding force.
Manitobans Mike Fisette and Adam Whitaker finished first and second this past weekend at the 2014 Canadian National Wake Park Championships at Adrenaline Adventures. The final was dominated by local riders, which saw five of the six wakeboarders in the heat being from Manitoba.
It was Fisette and Whitaker who performed the cleanest runs, going for big air off the jumps while throwing down a variety of tricks to impress the four judges. Adrenaline Adventures boasts one of only two full-cable wake park facilities in Canada (the other is in Montreal) that pulls the wakeboarders in a circle. The park was scattered with ramps and rails for the riders to use, with one trip around considered a full-run.
Fisette, 19, put together a combined points total of 97 through his final two cracks at the wake park to capture his first open men's championship after finishing second in Quebec last year. He also finished first in the open features event that gave the riders eight minutes to dish out their best stuff.
"The first run, I just wanted to put something down and not fall, and make sure it's clean," said Fisette, a member of the Canadian national team.
"You know, no splashing... the bigger the splash the less points you get and the less style you have. I just wanted to make I was coming into my second run confident with my first and that's what happened. I was able to kind of have fun with my second run."
Fisette started his career out on the lake, being pulled by boats. But since the opening of Adrenaline Adventures just a few years ago, the cable competition has become his specialty. He recently competed at the world championships in Norway.
"It was an advantage knowing the lines and the way to come into the rails. With every rail and every jump being a jumping rail you've hit hundreds of times before," he said of the park.
This was Whitaker's first professional open men's event since graduating from the junior ranks. But the 19-year-old showed no signs of nerves going up against some riders he'd never seen before. He entered the finals as the second seed after a great performance in the semis, second only to an Ontario rider, who eventually finished third in the finals.
"You're definitely stepping up your level and there was a lot of really good riders from all over Canada," said Whitaker, who posted 90 points throughout his final two runs. "So I was pretty nervous going into it (the final), but like I said earlier, riding with all my buddies it's not too bad. You're on the dock with all your friends, cheering each other on, it really helps lighten up the mood."
He said the pressure of watching the other athletes might have got to him a little bit.
"It was nice to see what everyone was going to do because then you're quite strategic about it" he said. "So if somebody's falling, you can play it a little bit more safe. But at the same time it adds a lot of pressure when you're watching somebody throw down really hard as hard as Mike was."
In the women's open finals, Michela Phillips from British Columbia held off Ontario's Erika Langman by four points to win the competition.