Orlando, Fla., - World champion Rusty Malinoski of Humboldt, Sask., successfully defended his title in the men's professional wakeboard competition on Sunday at the Wake Games.
Malinoski had the best score through four rounds, including a perfect 100 in the quarter-final, and won the final with 86.00 points. Jimmy Lariche of the U.S. was second at 82.50 and Adam Errington of Scotland was third at 80.50.
"I was just 100 per cent confident and my riding was really strong," said Malinoski. "The key to victory was really in the semifinal. It was a tough heat and only one advanced.
"I actually felt less pressure for the final, but to win today you had to be textbook perfect."
Malinoski has been an established star on the pro circuit for the last four seasons with numerous international successes. He' coming off a 008 season highlighted by victories at the Wake Games, the Pro Am championships and world championships.
He also earned four bronze medals on the Pro Tour.
"Ending 2008 with a win at worlds in a really hard final showed me that if I can do it once, I can do it again," said Malinoski, who grew up playing hockey and riding motorcross before discovering wakeboard at age 13.
"It's a great feeling to be on top."
Aaron Rathy of Nanaimo, B.C., and Kyle Rattray of Guelph, Ont., were both eliminated in the semifinals,finishing second and fourth in their respective heats. Rathy was knocked out of the final by Lariche by a mere quarter of a point.
"It's a good start to the season but I'm a little disappointed to come so close to the final," said Rathy, who went last in his semi heat. "I thought my run was going to be enough to advance.
"Still, this early in the year I feel I'm still working the cobwebs out. I've been working on some new tricks and I certainly plan to throw them down on the Pro Tour."
Last season, Rathy regained the form that made him the rookie of the year on the pro circuit in 2006, earning the silver medal behind Malinoski at the world championships.
Olivier Derome of Coteau-du-Lac, Que., was eliminated in the quarter-finals while Chad Sharpe of Surrey, B.C., Jason Bannatyne of Winnipeg, Mike Maynard of Hastings, Ont., didn't advance past the first round.
Ashley Leugner of Saskatoon reached the semifinals in the women's pro competition.