It is not the first time you have heard this, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. This was the BEST finals of all time! The storybook build up with Harley Clifford recovering from a few bad contest showings battling a nagging shoulder injury, Phil Soven trying to lock up his 4th King of Wake and 7th PWT overall title, with hard charging youngsters like Steel Lafferty and Mike Dowdy getting more and more confident in their contest riding, could not have played out more dramatically.
After the first run, Harley was in first with a run complete with a back mobe 5, blind pete, and both heel and toe 9’s. What happened in the second round of the finals was for the record books. Steel links a toeside backside 720 to a perfect heelside backside 900 for his first two tricks of his first pass. With a fall on his last trick, Steel showed that he has the goods that very well could have put him in the lead. Harley went out and did the run that we see below, and absolutely made it clear that he was back. Phil, with an extremely respectable show of sportsmanship and competitive fortitude, already had second place and his overall titles locked up. Rather than sandbagging, Phil went for the win and stomped a perfect nose grab crow 720 as his second trick. Crashing on a heel 9 on his last trick, it is hard to say whether it would have been enough to take out Harley’s run, but it was jaw dropping none-the-less.
Let it be noted that yes a crow 7, double indy tantrum, and a backside 9 have been done in a contest run, but this is the first time these tricks were thrown and landed when it counted. The riders NEEDED these tricks to have a shot at the win. This is where the sport of wakeboarding and competitive riding is headed, and we couldn’t be more excited to see it play out again next year.