Wakestock making waves

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

Ask any athlete about the integrity of their playing surface and they will tell you it's among the most important factors in their respective sport.

With wakeboarders, it's no different. No wonder, then, they're excited about strapping on their boards and hitting the water at the 2005 Wakestock Festival at Toronto Island Aug. 11-14.

One major reason why competitors are greatly anticipating the Long Pond course is because calm water virtually is guaranteed.

"The new site on Toronto Island looks amazing," Canadian professional wakeboarder Rusty Malinoski said on the Wakestock website. "The water is going to be perfectly flat. All the riders look forward to Wakestock every year because it's the best contest around in terms of water, huge rails and crowds. Being in Toronto, it will be nice to have an even larger crowd to keep all the riders stoked."

The event was most recently held in Wasaga Beach, where the water conditions aren't nearly as predictable. Because it is bordered on both sides by islands, Long Pond is protected from wind. It has been used to hold the world water skiing championship and rowing events in the past, and because of its generally sloping banks, wake rebound will be at a minimum.

Though Wakestock 2005 is made up of a number of attractions -- including performances by some of the world's best pro skateboarders, concerts and an action sports expo -- wakeboarding is the key highlight. This year's event is one of five stops on the World Wakeboard Association World Tour, and accordingly it will play host to some of the best wakeboarders in the world. Other stops on the WWAWorld Tour include Tokyo; Kelseyville, Calif.; Perth, Australia, and Maroochy, Australia.

Touted as the fastest-growing water sport, wakeboarding (think snowboarding on water) remains in its infancy stages. It has roots in surfing and water skiing, and did not exist 25 years ago. Original wakeboards were borne out of surfboards and were much thicker than those that are used today. The sport grew through the 1980s and in 1992, World Sports and Marketing began creating pro wakeboard competitions. In 1996, the sport became widely known after ESPN featured it during its broadcast of the annual X-Games. Now, it's estimated there are more than 3,000,000 wakeboarders worldwide.


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