Westin Kierland Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona – Oct 13th and 14th
Saturday, Oct 13th saw the start of the FLOW (Flowboarding League Of the World) sanctioned World Flowboarding Championships held on the FlowRider® Double at the fabulous Westin Kierland, a jewel of a 4 star resort in the shimmering Arizona desert. With perfect weather in the mid to high 80’s, the stage was set for an epic battle.
Having hosted the season opening FLOW Tour Prime event in May 2013, the Westin was well primed to host the pinnacle event of the flowboarding season. With 70+ entries and athletes from 4 countries (USA, Europe, Canada and Asia), there was over $10,000 up for grabs in the Pro divisions, representing the largest single event purse in history.
The 2013 FLOW season saw many changes incorporated by FLOW Tour manager Greg “Laz” Lazarus, and the transitions included an electronic scoring system with live heat updates,timers and visual aids for the riders, and a vastly improved judging format that has each judge focusing ona specific category (difficulty, execution, overall impression). This has allowed the judges to concerntrateon one criterion per rider and creates a much more consistent approach to scoring. The new format also enables the riders to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses which will hopefully improves their riding during the off season. This fifth annual event saw the best riders in the world in Junior and Pro division, male and female, in both flowboarding and bodyboarding.
The event went off like clockwork (I was timing it) as “Laz” was on fire in keeping the event on schedule. Andy Haase, MC and commentator, had a good vibe going the whole event, but the stars were the riders.
In the Junior bodyboardfinal, Damien Rivera, who has only been competing for one season, took down the top spot. When I saw him in an elevator later that victorious night, I asked him when he was going to add standup to his arsenal. Wow – his answer was short and to the point – “My venue doesn’t allow standup.” “Are you from Texas” I ask, knowing the answer ahead of time. Keep charging Damien; maybe Schlitterbahn will add a standup attraction some day! He was followed by Jake Chipman(best WFC result ever), Nathan Boykin ad Halley Chapa.
The Junior Flowboard competition is always one of my fav’s as I get to see the future of our sport, up front and in action. In an action packed final, young Xana Nash captured the top spot over Hayden Jaussi, Tate Freeman (4th in last year’s event) and Logan Lindeman respectively. While the guys were going for the big tricks, it was Xana’s style and execution that landed her the top spot, but watch out, because these kids were awesome!! Landing big tricks like varial flips and kickflips, but it was the execution that knocked Hayden out of the top spot.
Pro Female Bodyboardwas a blend of youth and experience, but ultimately came down to a battle between two veteran riders, Hayley Balderama and Morgan Seabert. In the end, Morgan repeated her 2012 championship with an awesome display of error free riding, nosing past Hayley, who has been competing since 1998! It was her first time in the WFC FlowRider division and she performed stylishly, as always. Coming in 3rd was the youngest competitor to reach a final, Gabby Fiszman, age 12 followed by Erica Citron in 4th. Having watched Morgan last year, I can easily say that the Pro Female division is in good hands, as her riding has ratcheted up a notch since 2012.
Xana Nash once again dominated the Pro Female Flowboard division for the second consecutive year, giving her multiple World Titles within 2013. Her riding is so technically perfect and she has added a real style component that will make her hard to beat for years to come. Dee Daniels came in second for the 2nd year in a row, and her riding is aggressive and exciting to watch. Rounding out the top four were Jade Lauzon from Canada and Leanna Crowly from Ireland – a truly international final!
As the day progressed, it was pretty clear to me (a non-expert observer!) who many of the winners were, but when I saw the lineup for the Pro Men’s Bodyboard final, I could only shake my head. By far the toughest division to judge, these guys land tricks so quickly if you blink an eye, you miss it. The same four from 2012 battled for the top spot, and Nick Nguyen finally made a return to the top of the podium after Daniel Tarapchak won the title in 2012. Nick Sanchez came in third followed by Andrew Shelton, but really, this came down to the stylish combinations of Nick Nguyen, vs. the high flying Daniel and some incredibly aggressive riding from Nick Sanchez. As I sat behind the judges, trying to analyze the heat, it was mind-blowing – I really felt sorry that they had to try to score this division, but the end results were hard to argue, although there were just a few tenths separating the combatants. It really was a crazy final……… but the judges had to separate these riders by the smallest of margins. It came down to Nick’s great execution combined with high difficulty and seamless FLOW that propelled him to victory It really could have gone either way for the top 3.
The Pro Men’s Flowboard event – wow! With tightly contested Semi’s that had Quincy Vlitjig, Chuck Wright, Sean Silveira and Brad Spencer (the 2012 World champ) advancing to the final, the stage was set for the best men’s competition final in history.
Quincy (from Holland and Team Europe) was up against it as a solid underdog, but rode exceptionally well – in fact a dramatic improvement from his 2012 showing – and had a solid first run with kick flips, varial flips and a very powerful surf style. Sean came out and fell on his first run, leaving the crowd to wonder if this was a repeat of 2012. Sean has a carefree attitude that can be mistaken – I know he really wanted to win this event. Chuck and Brad both had solid runs with Brad’s degree of difficulty being at the top of the game.
It looked like a repeat was in order from 2012…… until Sean’s second run – probably one of the bestruns in competition ridinghistory. Once again, I was positioned right behind the judges while Sean rode effortlessly, nailing countless combos regular and switch, doing varials throughout his routine, with a switch kickflip at the buzzer. I was thinking to myself that it had to be a 10 but fortunately I left the judging to the professionals. ). Brad continued to ride with his usual, technical precision, but the overall impression of Sean’s last two runs were just too much to overcome. In all, it was a standout final performance to cap a great week in the desert air.
Did I say desert air? Well, I might mention that there was a BEST TRICK COMPETITION after the final, and to say it was surprising no one hurt themselves is an understatement. With Sean, Luis, and Brad launching themselves off the nearby walls in “acid drop” variations, Eric Silverman’s attempt at a Gainer on to a stationary board on the wave (almost taking out Brad in the process), the launching pad of a legion of bodyboarders led by Nick Sanchez, going off nearby heights, Carter Wood being… well, Carter Wood, it boiled down to 4 finalists in each division. In the end it was an assisted finger flip off the side wall by Brad Spencer that gained the top prize for the Flowboarding contingent, and in the Bodyboard division, it was Nick Sanchez’ huge fingerflip air off the concrete barricade –which was GNARLEY. Congrats to everyone for providing an extremely entertaining comp!!
The team portion of the event went to Team USA, led by Xana Nash, Nick Nguyen and Brad Spencer, followed by Team Europe (Quincy Vlitjig, Adam Wildman and Leanna Crowley ), Team Canada ( Eric Berube, Jesse Berube and Jade Lauzon) and Team Asia (Ray, Didi ).
Kudo’s go out to Steve Richardson and Mike Tuerosof the Westin for their outstanding support of the sport throughout the competition. We can’t do it without “The Sponsors” and their support – Chris Granone and WCB as the presenting sponsor, Fiji Water, Hype Surf, 13rOz and Nick Nguyen for his valued photography throughout the season, Loud Mouth Clothing, Nuke, flowboarders.com, The Flowboarding League Of the World (FLOW), visitphoenix.com, SuperDuperSurf and Andy Haasefor his super-duper monologue throughout the event and the competitionjerseys, the incredible judging , time and effort of ShaunHancock, Rob Chalfant, Robert Puls, and to Greg Lazarus for pulling off an epic event, in a timely fashion and without controversy. In fact, one of decidedly improved aspect of this competition is that yes, it is competition and people want to win and advance, but many of those that didn’t asked the judges how they need to improve their routines in the future. In my mind, that was the breakthrough of the comp…. and Sean’s 2nd run.
See you next year!!
1 Damien Rivera TX
2 Jake Chipman UT
3 Nathan Boykin TX
4 Halley Chapa
1 Xana Nash FL
2 Hayden Jaussi UT
3 Tate Freeman FL
4 Logan Lindeman UT
Pro Female BB
1 Morgan Seabert TX
2 Hayley Balderama CA (now TX)
3 Gabby Fiszman FL
4 Ericca Citron CA(Now AZ)
Pro Female FB
1 Xana Nash FL
2 Dee Daniels UT
3 Jade Lauzon Montreal (Team Canada)
4 Leanna Crowley Ireland (team Europe)
Pro Mens BB
1 Nick Nguyen FL
2 Daniel Tarapchak CA
3 Nick Sanchez FL
4 Andrew Shelton PA
Pro Mens FB
1 Sean Silveira FL (now CA)
2 Brad Spencer UT
3 Quincy Vlitjig Holland (Team Europe)
4 Chuck Wright FL
FB – Brad Spencer (assisted fingerflip of the side wall)
BB – Nick Sanchez (off the wall Air) Not actually sure what it was lol.
3 Canada (First time competing in the WFC)