The Malibu Factory Smoky Mountain Pro was everything we wanted it to be and more. The progression we have been seeing that built an enormous amount of anticipation leading into the event showed in every heat. The riders were absolutely firing on all cylinders and in the final exchange we saw something beyond the comparison of tricks. We witnessed all out mental warfare in a game traditionally dominated by who executed bigger, cleaner, and with more style within a matter of two one minute passes up and down the lake.
A very unfortunate injury took out Women’s Wakeboard World Series leader Giorgia Gregorio in the semi’s who has had an amazing season adding a fresh face to the top of the rankings. The return of Meagan Ethell showed a very well-played game plan keep her consistent throughout each round for a third place finish. Her poise under pressure leaves us with no doubt she is back and on the hunt for her place at the top with four events left in the 2017 season.
Larisa Morales looked right at home all weekend long, letting her amplitude do the talking while showing that she’s on the come up no plans of slowing down. In the final, two solid passed earned her the second place spot. Boosting her to the number seven spot in the ranking, she’ll look to break into the closely contested top five at the next stop.
Nicola Butler went for it this weekend stating that there is something about the Malibu Evolution Pro Series that seems to be her perfect match. A big roll to blind set her apart from the field to take the win in her 2017 Wakeboard World Series competitive debut.
Playing the dark horse, Raph Derome is rarely a name associated with Wakeboard World Series competition. When the creative Canadian decides to show, he does so in a manner that storms the castle like a rogue nomadic warrior choosing only to strike when he is good and ready. First off the dock in the final, Raph set the tone with two jaw-dropping stand up passes fit for a video section where perfect execution on each trick is priority. As much as the riders coming behind him are competitors, there is a level of respect and awe along with the concern of what shake-up his unorthodox approach may cause.
When the going gets tough, Cory Teunissen throws 1080’s. An interesting position with Raph’s performance on the board and one of the heaviest hitters in the game on deck, the pressure was on. Two bobbled doubles in pass one left the game Australian with the necessity to hit the 10. Stacking on his first attempt, he got up and nailed it perfectly to keep his podium hopes alive with a score just behind Raph Derome.
Venturing to say that there are few riders that possess the mental toughness of Mike Dowdy is now a matter of fact. His rise to greatness has been with a confident self-belief that allows him the ability to press forward with a method all his own. Sometimes things just happen. On the first trick of his final run Dowdy’s board gave way under the pressure of quite possibly the biggest W2W double ever thrown in competition. Although he remained unrattled coming back to land two doubles in his first pass, it cost him a fall and valuable time. The second misfortune came in the way of a variable we can’t run from in this sport, getting bucked by a roller on his second pass, taking him out of the podium contention.
Smelling the fresh blood in the water and an opening to challenge for the top three Noah Flegel came out swinging, hitting a moby dick 720 in his first pass. Flegel brought it home with two solid passes before going down on a massive KGB in an attempt to seal the deal putting his score just above that of Raph Derome with Nic Rapa and Harley Clifford left to ride.
There weren’t any strong indicators that what we saw come out of Nic Rapa in that final was on the horizon, and that’s exactly how he wanted it. With Harley Clifford on the dock behind him, Rapa hit the water looking to make a statement that would take the lead, and back the number one rider in the world into a corner. It was a strategy well played as we saw the young Australian put down the run of his life, pulling out a new double that no one knew he had in the bag. In a World Series Rundown interview Rapa made his intentions clear, stating that he was saving that one to unveil in a moment that counted. Count it did. Harley went down twice early in his first pass including what is speculated to be a strategically placed first fall knowing he had no room for anything less than perfection. A double tantrum took him down to seal the Rapa’s second consecutive Wakeboard World Series win, putting him in the number one spot heading into stop number five where he will be wearing the gold jersey for the first time in his career with the top four ranked riders just 30 points apart. It doesn’t get any better than this, so stay tuned.
CLICK HERE for a full list of results from the Malibu Factory Smoky Mountain Pro.
CLICK HERE for up to date WWA Wakeboard World Series rankings.