Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wakeboarders put our lakes to good use

Slick Headingley facility hosts top water-sport talent

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Manitoba is known as the Land of 100,000 Lakes, which should automatically make it the wakeboarding mecca of the world, not to mention all the other water sports that are out there.

Still, Connor Ward, a wakeboarding junkie, is convinced Jason Rohs, the man who built the Adrenaline Adventures cable wakeboarding facility at 600 Caron Rd. in Headingley, "filled a void."

"A lot of people can't experience those lakes, because it costs money," explained Ward, who by the way is also the operations manager of the facility. "This brings wakeboarding to everyone. Wakeboarding is a rich man's sport. You need a boat, insurance, gas, car whatever. Now you can get off work, and rather than drive out to the lake, you can come here and wakeboard for a few hours."

Ward was also a competitor over the weekend, as three individual events opened the season, including the International Cable Wakeboarding Competition, Monster Energy Triple Crown, and the first-ever Canadian Wakeboard Nationals.

On Sunday, the men's pro championship went to Yan Thibault of Winnipeg, ahead of Rob Corum of the United States, Mickey Henry of Ontario and Ward of Winnipeg.

The pro wake-skate championship was won by Canadian Tanner Champion, in front of James Balzer and Dylan Elliot.

Henry took first place in the Canadian men's 19-24 age group. Chris Dobbs was second and Brock Bargen of Carman third.

Polley won the junior men's Canadian title ahead of Mike Fisette and Brendan Rurak. Polley was also second behind Thibault in the Canadian pro obstacles and Justin Bonney finished third. Colt Pickles won the amateur Canadian wake skate, with Bonney coming in second.

Polley and Ward finished second and third in the men's 19-24 age group final behind Ethan Agius of Australia.

Heading into the open obstacles competition, Polly took first place, and Henry was second, Agius third.

Polley, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Miles Macdonell Collegiate and a member of the provincial wakeboarding team, said there are a few adjustments to be made going from being pulled behind a boat to the cable, which pulls from above.

"I've been wakeboarding for seven or eight years," he said. "I started on the cable last year when I went to Florida. It's a whole different feel, because you are used to being pulled forward, while with the cable you are pulled up and out. You use kickers and sliders rather than the wake of the boat.

"Kickers are the ramps to go off of in order to do spins and stuff. Sliders are like the rails, so we can do our grinds (tricks), kind of like skateboarding."

The facility is a oval, about 1,000 metres around the middle, and is nine-feet deep at the centre. There are six tower wakeboard cable systems, which can pull six boarders at a time, and on average it takes about a full minute to go around once.

Henry, a fully tanned, blond self-proclaimed beach bum, said the fact boarders are pulled up rather than forward isn't so bad. "It actually makes it a little easier for people just learning to wakeboard. There is a little bit of adjustment needed, but if you can ride behind a boat, you can ride behind a cable."

Bargen said the cable system "actually allows you to get good air and also come down a lot softer."

In Saturday's professional wake-skate finals, Tom Fooshee of the United States took the pro obstacles event with Daniel Grant of Thailand second and American Keith Lidberg third. Fooshee also finished on top of the professional finals event, in front of Fred Von Oster of Germany and Dominik Guehrs of Israel.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 11, 2011 0

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