FLOW Tour 2011 Wraps Up with Nationals in CamelBeach, PA
August 13-14, 2011: CamelBeach Mountain Waterpark – Tannersville, PA.
Deep in the Pocono’s, Camel Beach Mountain Waterpark set the stage for the Wave Loch 2011 FLOW Tour season ending National Championships. Practice started Friday under a clear sky, and with four hours of practice and 90+ competitors from 15 states, everyone was fired up to strut their stuff, and the usual and unusual hi-jinx prevailed!
Saturday’s preliminary runs started out under cloudy skies, and as the event worked its way into the Semifinal runs, the threat of weather became the prime topic of conversation. With impending thunder and lightning, event organizers Chris Granone and Rob Chalfant made the decision to get several finals run as the competition was threatened with continued weather updates. In a very competitive Youth Division, Drayden Denis carved his way to victory with an incredible power attack.
We weaved our way through the balance of the semis, but thunder and lightning approached during the Expert Flowboard semifinal #2, leaving the combatants with a dry ride surface as strict regulations regarding the safety of everyone in the park had to be enforced. As the park was being evacuated and with few options available, Rob, Chris, and competitors were huddled under tents as the storm approached. With pouring rain, thunder and lightning, and technical experts trying to guard their equipment from the onslaught, Rob and Chris contacted Chuck Dickenson of Split Rock and he volunteered his indoor venue to get as much of the event completed as possible.
With competitors, staff and spectators racing off to Split Rock, the entire waterpark had to be evacuated as well. 8500+ traveling down a one way road had everyone nervous about how long it would take to get to Split Rock, normally a 20 minute drive. About an hour later, we all pulled up at Split Rock and Chris, with his frenetic energy going at a frantic pace, had everyone dialed in to restart the event at 7:45 PM promptly with the Expert Flowboard Semi #2 that was left high and dry by the Pocono lightning bolts.
With Split Rock’s accommodating style, and the owners Art Berry and Ken Ellis of CamelBeach in attendance offering moral support, the event ran until midnight to get us to the Finals set for the following morning …Yawn… 8AM start here we come.
After a few hours sleep, Chris and Rob were at it again, accommodating riders that overslept or were unaware of the revised, mega early start time. The incredible elasticity allowed everyone to compete, as heats were juggled based upon availability – it was a true test of sportsmanship and flexibility by everyone involved. And under a constant drizzle, or the “Pocono Fog”, the balance of the Championships were contested.
In Female Bodyboard, Caitlin Clifford took down the top spot as Cathy Seabert was the FLOW Tour Season Champion (FTSC) in the discipline. Cathy lodged a victory in Masters Bodyboard on her 50th birthday weekend as Tracy Carroll took the FTSC. Men’s BB saw Mateo Hernandez come in first with Brenden Fenske as the FTSC. Drop Knee had Noah Holmes in the top slot as Brad Spencer was the FTSC. Men’s Flowboard saw Chuck Wright hit the daily double with victories in the event as well as the FTSC. Shaun Hancock also pulled off the daily double in Masters Flowboard with a tightly contested, split decision of Steve Salmon’s power attack.
The future of our sport was on full display at the Nationals, as in the JR Men Bodyboard saw Andrew O’Conner, who has been riding six months, take the top slot from FTSC Cameron Lodge. It was a smooth, radical, impressive display. In Jr Men FlowBoard, Theo Koby took down the win in a close contest over FTSC Nicholas Sanchez. This final was a taste of things to come in the expert division, as these kids were stomping kick flips and shuvits at will. Theo is an amazing competitor who has undergone several heart surgeries and actually rides with a pace maker. An inspiration to everyone involved in the sport and with the complete support of little bro Bubbie (who placed 4th in the event) and mom Sandy, Theo was a very deserving winner. Please read this inspirational piece at:https://www.jhsmiami.org/workfiles//JHSConnectionsJune10.pdf.
As of press time, this writer has lost track of how many National Championships Nick Nguyen has won. With 13 straight victories this year, and another FTSC under his belt, Nick is poised and ready to go to Durban, South Africa to take down all comers at the FLOW Championships. While Nick dominated the division this year, the gap is closing as Patrick Boyce put in a strong bid in the final event, and Rookie of the Year Morgan Seabert, the runner up to Nick in the division this year, continues to improve with an elegant, graceful attack.
The Female Flowboard division came down to the final event of the year, with Vanessa Arroyo carving her way to victory and winning the event and the FTSC over last year’s champion Amanda McCormick. Vanessa came charging back in the last half of the year to garner the Championship with a graceful yet powerful attack that utilizes the entire ride surface and incorporates multiple shuvits on all areas of the ride surface. Former Tour Champ Jessica Nichols came in third, and local fan favorite Rebecca Keller came in fourth.
The Expert Flowboard Final saw Sean Silveira win a tightly contested heat, as all the participants threw conservatism out the window and went for it! With multiple falls by everyone involved, it came down to Sean nailing a switch 360 kickflip, and 360 kickflip shuvit for the victory. As the Four Time Tour Champion, Sean was a gracious winner, acknowledging that he didn’t ride his best, but it was a true testament to the nature of JP O’Brien, Brenden Fenske, Brad Spencer and Sean that saw them not holding back at all and going for it on all accounts. While Sean has dominated the Expert Division for four years running, the riding of Brad, Brenden, JP, Eric Silverman, and Nick Nguyen should keep Sean motivated.
The post event ceremonies got underway as everyone ran to the lodge under a downpour. As the results were being tallied, break dancing and chicken fights broke out as the restless and hungry crowd awaited. While 8500+ people were in the park on Saturday, with record numbers of spectators for the event, the horrible weather saw less than 100 people in the park on Sunday. As Ken Ellis and Art Berry scrambled to find every bit of food in the park, it was instantly devoured by the hungry, restless, troops. Ken had some extra fun as brownies and cookies were flying like candy from a piñata, with combatants diving for every morsel. The awards ceremonies got underway with an impassioned introduction on the importance of the sport of Flowriding from Wave Loch COO, Marshall Myrman. As he said “it’s all about the sport.”
The 2011 Wave Loch FLOW Tour was the most successful yet, as a record number of people competed. The venues involved this year really showed their spirit in supporting the events and riders. There was a record $30,000 up for grabs this year. The events at Split Rock and the National Championships at CamelBeach were just another indication of that. The camaraderie on the Tour is a credit to everyone that logs all of those miles to get from event to event, for the love of the sport. 2011 has been a year in which expert riders across the world are gaining sponsorships as our beloved sport grows.
Special thanks again to Art Berry and Ken Ellis and their staff (Tony, Scott and all) at Camelback Mountain Resort, Chuck Dickenson from Split Rock for allowing us a venue change at the last minute due to weather, Rob Chalfant and Chris Granone for working their tails off from dawn until midnight, all of the volunteers who did an excellent job (again), our event sponsors Liquid Lightning and The Loft, and our season sponsors Wave Loch, WCB, Deuce Brand, and Versa Grip Traction. See you in 2012!!