As the wind died down and the sun came out, so did the fans, as a packed shoreline looked on to watch the world's best wakeboarders compete in the finals rounds of action at the third stop of the five-city MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour. The sport's top pros spent their last day in Colorado Springs, Colo., battling it out on the waters of Memorial Park's Prospect Lake for wins in the Pro Men, Pro Women and Jr. Pro Men's division.
Over the course of two preliminary rounds, the Pro Men's division narrowed the field of 20 quarterfinalists down to six final riders, but not without of series of upsets. The surprising outcomes ultimately led to a six-man final that literally hasn't been seen in years.
While the Pro Men's finals saw its share of usual suspects, it also featured Shaun Murray and Chad Sharpe, who made their first finals appearance on the Pro Tour since 2003 and 2007, respectively.
"To be in the same final heat with guys like Phillip Soven and Harley [Clifford] is just crazy," said the 35-year-old Murray. Most of the guys I used ride with are now gone, so I feel blessed to still be riding at a high level and being a positive influence in the sport.
Both Murray and Sharpe laid down solid runs to finish fourth and fifth place, respectively, in the six-man heat. However, Harley Clifford and Phillip Soven, the top two seeds in the contest, pushed the limits of the sport to remain in contention for the top spot.
Clifford appeared to be the frontrunner in the finals after landing a Front Mobe 540, but Soven's Switch Toeside 900 and Whirly Dick helped him edge Harley for the win. With today's win Soven paces the division in the Pro Tour standings with 290 points. Clifford trails close behind with 280 points and Bob Soven rounds out the top three with 215 points.
In addition to making the finals, Chad Sharpe was named the winner of the Rockstar Energy Drink Big-Air Kicker contest. Sharpe won the $1,000 cash prize after landing a massive Indy Glide.
In the Pro Women's finals, the crowd could not be louder, as Denver native Emily Copeland Durham hit the waters of her home state. The former X Games gold medalist was poised to win, landing an Off-Axis 540, Roll to Blind and a Tootsie Roll in her final run, but ultimately fell short top seed Amber Wing.
The 27-year-old Coloradan finished in second place today, with Wing and Melissa Marquardt taking first and third place, respectively. With her second-place finish in Colorado Springs, Copeland Durham moves to fourth place overall in the Queen of Wake standings, with Wing at the top of the points list.
In the Jr. Pro Men's division, defending Colorado Springs tour stop winner Daniel Powers returned to the finals today to face off against Kyle Evans, Freddie Wayne and current division points-leader Shota Tezuka. Despite an impressive run by top-seeded Tezuka, which included a 1080 attempt off the double up, Powers pulled off the upset to repeat at the home of his first-ever Jr. Pro Tour stop win.
"To win two years in a row in Colorado Springs is just unreal," said Powers. "Shota [Tezuka] and the other guys really pushed me to step up my riding in the finals, and I'm stoked to get my second win on tour this season."
Powers, 17, of Orlando, Fla. entered Colorado Springs coming off a tour stop win last week in Fort Worth, Tex. With today's win, Powers sits in second place overall in the standings, with Tezuka remaining in the lead.
With Colorado Springs wrapped up, the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour will now head to the greater Seattle area of Monroe, Wash., on July 8 & 9. Additional 2011 Pro Tour venues include Acworth, Ga., Fort Worth, Tex., as well as the year-end finale in Knoxville, Tennessee on August 27 & 28.
For more information on the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour, please visit MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour on TransWorld Wakeboarding