(Videos Below) We saw probably the most exciting pro mens finals all year at the Malibu Open. It happened like this: a round of 16 pro men arrived in Detroit on Friday, July 20, 2008 to overcast skies and somewhat glassy waters (a friggin' miracle considering the jump competition had to be canceled earlier that day due to 20 mile-per-hour winds) where two from each heat advanced. All in all, given the conditions and performances of the first round on Friday, not much would have indicated that such a crazy finals was afoot. After knocking out some big names, Friday night got a little crazy considering wakeboarding didn't start at the Open until five o'clock the following day. When the height of the beeramid reached 30 feet and a rousing game of thirds left everyone feeling light, quaffed, and ready for tomorrow's on-water action we retired from the worn hotel lobby and didn't get up until about noon Saturday.
After hanging out through the power boat races for a few hours on Saturday (them boys throw one helluva rooster tail, sheeeeit!), we were more than ready to see a little shredding. During Saturday's first round, we had a major upset with Rusty Malinoski getting taken out by Phillip Soven and Aaron Rathy. With only two advancing in a heat consisting of Trevor Hansen, Rusty Malinoski, Phillip Soven, and Aaron Rathy, it's about like throwing a case of PBR in the fire and standing around to see what happens. In other words, things got explosive, Rathy had what might have been the best run of his professional competitive wakeboarding career, and when the dust settled, despite Herculean efforts by all four competitors, only two could make it through.
Three judges tried to commit suicide and another two resigned rather than make the decision between Rathy, Malinoski, and Soven. One person on the beach spontaneously combusted because of the tension running through the crowd. The Malibu pulling the pro men had an aura around it that heated the entire lake three degrees during the judges' deliberation period (it also miraculously healed a cancer-stricken boy who walked near it).
Finally, it was announced by some unlucky soul (this person was never heard from again, and is suspected eaten by Malinoski) that Soven and Rathy had made the finals and Malinoski did not. To say the least, the judges had made a difficult decision.
Pro women then proceeded to ride, with Nicola Butler showing her first bit of vulnerability with a knee injury from Friday that seemed to be affecting her through her finals run. She didn't start out with her 911, a Raley-based trick she had lead the majority of her pro runs this year with, and her discomfort was evident on a few other tricks. This left the door slightly ajar for Dallas Friday, who kicked it open with huge airs and spins out into the flats, then strode through for the victory like it was 2006.
Finally, only one thing stood between us and the Greeown casino: pro mens finals.
With a fall on a toeside 720, Rathy had some making-up to do, so he went ahead and stomped an immaculate wake-to-wake heelside backside 720, then followed it up with a toeside 900 at the end of his run. Unfortunately for the solid Canadian, he missed his stock heelside 900 off the double-up, leaving more than enough room for the other three riders to work some on-water magic.
Weatherall + Finals = style. Jeff Weatherall came out with a barrage of technical, styley tricks that I could tell you all about, but you might as well wait until tomorrow when the pro mens finals will be online so you can see for yourself how he stomped a huge nose grab crow mobe way out into the flats, then hit a toeside 360 in similar real estate.
JD Webb killed it. We were thankful there were no obstacles, as half the crowd would have fainted when he 270 pressed a rail on his B-Side. As it was, a good 60 percent of the hydroplane racers left their wives and kids and gave up their sport and concentrated on wakeboarding for the rest of their given days when Webb hit a switch mute back mobe (landing wrapped as crap), a trick that knocked him out at the beginning of the year, and one he's only landed a handful of times in competition. We hope your happy, JD, that mute back mobe was ill, but no one likes a home wrecker.
Finally, we have Captain Consistency, Phillip Soven. Soven came out with his usual bag of finals-crushing moves, but threw in a few extra morsels of wake goodness for the hungry spectators. A heelside backside tail poke 360, anyone? Yes Mr. Soven sir, may we have another?
A whirly 540 with a three-foot cut? Yeah, we're down with that. No idea how you pull it off, but god bless you for it.
A nose dive when I'm cutting in-to-out while turning around for the double-up? Yeah, that's a good one. Just prove you're human before stomping your toeside 900 for the victory.
So you have it, Wake Fans, the contest was over on Saturday by about 8:00, and the only thing left to do was hit up the Detroit casinos and try your hand at a little lobby-loitering at the hotel until about three or four in the morning. Catch all the highlights on wakeboardingmag.com and mywake.tv in the following days.