More than 200 wake athletes from around the world will take to the waters of the Orlando Watersports Complex in Orlando, Florida, April 29-May 2 to compete in the most unique event in wakeboarding — the Air Nautique Wake Games, presented by ROCKSTAR. This four-day event groups amateur wake athletes with the top professional riders in the sport for a one-of-a-kind team challenge.
Ten preselected captains will host a live draft to field a team with a mix of male and female, pro and amateur riders. Each rider will compete in their respective division, which is separated by age and skill-level, while contributing points toward a team score based on their individual placement in that division. Every division will crown a winner, and the team with the highest total score will take home the team title.
With so much talent at such a diverse contest, we’ve picked the 10 riders who could make the biggest impact for their team at the 2010 Air Nautique Wake Games, presented by ROCKSTAR.
Brian Grubb is one of the most dominant competition wakeskaters in the biz and that goes quadruple for the Air Nautique Wake Games. That’s right, Grubby is a four-time Wake Games winner and has gone undefeated in the Pro Wakeskate division every year since the event’s inception in 2006. Look for the New Hampshire native to keep his streak alive with a win at this year’s Games.
Man of Steel Vs. Super Powers
This year’s Jr. Pro Men division is chock-full of talent and stylie goodness, with Steel Lafferty and Daniel Powers leading the gifted group of up-and-coming rippers. Both riders podiumed multiple times throughout the 2009 season and are poised to have a stellar year in 2010.
Meagan An Impression
In the world of women’s pro wakeboarding, Dallas Friday and Nicola Butler are the heavy hitters of their sport. Everyone knows that Amber Wing and Raimi Merritt can seriously rip, and Melissa Marquadt and Hayley Smith bring a style all of their own. But few know the youngest and most potential-filled rider in the sport, Meagan Ethell. At 13 years old, this budding superstar enters her second pro season with tons of promise and a serious hunger to win.
The X Factor
This year’s biggest X factor at the 2010 Air Nautique Wake Games has to be Danny Harf. The four-time X Games gold medalist is one of the sport’s most innovative and explosive riders. But a string of unfortunate injuries have kept Harf from ever competing at the Air Nautique Wake Games. As a result, no one knows what D Block will bring to a contest so early in the season. But as the sixth seed, a healthy Harf is positioned to go far in his Wake Games debut.
Taylor Made For Riding
At 11 years old, Taylor McCullough has already built an impressive resume for herself. In the past two years, Taylor has won multiple national and world titles, as well as the 2009 Air Nautique Wake Games in the Girls division. Taylor enters this year’s Games as the top seed and looks to defend her title against a tough field of competitors.
What About Bob?
In the aftermath of Harley Clifford’s astonishing rookie season, many people have set their expectations high for wakeboarding’s newest rookie rider, Bob Soven. After sweeping the Jr. Pro Tour and winning the national title in the Jr. Pro Men division, Ballin’ Bob is expected to set the bar even higher for rookie pro riders and enters the Air Nautique Wake Games coming off of his first pro win at Board Up Miami.
He may be 46 years old, but Matt Vermillion rides like an experienced young gun. The Ohio native is a four-time world champ and a two-time Air Nautique Wake Games winner. With that kind of wake resume, there’s no doubt that Matt “Vermillionaire” has a solid shot at defending his Wake Games title against a very talented Veterans division.
The first female to land a wake-to-wake shove is set to defend her title at this year’s Games. That’s right boys and girls, Jen GilanFarr, the two-time world champion, will look to win her second straight title in the Pro Women’s Wakeskate division at this year’s Air Nautique Wake Games.
There’s no doubt that the talented rippers in the Boys division are the future of wakeboarding. Each of these riders has a solid shot at winning, but Florida’s Noah Flegel is the defending Air Nautique Wake Games winner. As the top seed, he’s expected to retain his title against this talented group of groms.
Each of these riders bring something unique to their sport and could have a big impact for their team. The Air Nautique Wake Games, presented by ROCKSTAR, will host the live draft on Friday, April. 30, at 6 p.m. at the Orlando Watersports Complex. Tickets are available online and at the gate.