Today was the first official day of the World Cup in Odaiba Bay, Tokyo. The cable park is located almost directly in the city center. The backdrop is amazing; there are giant bridges and buildings everywhere. This cable is unique in the sense that it is on an open bay, so there is a high tide and a low tide. The difference is approximately two meters, or six feet, which is a lot regarding the distance from the cable to the water. Six feet makes a huge difference in what air tricks riders can pull off. On top of that, this cable was built solely for this event. They constructed the cable on Monday and they will tear it down the following Monday.
The reason that this event is so important is because this World Cup stop is the first step in making wakeboarding part of the Olympics. The IWWF is the sanctioning organization that coordinates with the Olympic committee. So, at this event, there are a handful of officials here from Japanese Olympic Committee that are assessing if wakeboarding is a sport worthy of the Olympics. Only the top riders from each country have been selected to compete at this event and it's up to us to prove that it is. No pressure, of course.
The opening ceremony was spectacular. The governor of Tokyo made a speech to welcome wakeboarding as a sport to the city of Tokyo. There was a giant drum performance followed by the singing of the national anthem. All of it was extremely professional. After that we went straight into the contest. 14 Women and 28 men competed for a chance to ride in the finals on Sunday. The level of riding continues to step up at each contest and this event was no exception.
Rocco Van Straten from the Netherlands rode really well, with tricks like Pete 5 off the kicker and a monstrous 313. As always, Dominik Guhrs rode sick landing Raley 5 and crow mobe off the flats just to name a few. I rode pretty well as well landing an S-bend to blind to the inside of the cable and a toe back 7 off the kicker. It was enough to get me through to the semifinals on Sunday.
After the event, all of the athletes and officials met for an amazing dinner at Ocean's Restaurant. The buffet style food included everything from pizza to sushi to, my personal favorite, a fondu fountain. After stuffing ourselves silly, we went over to the Sega Theme park where we got to test out some Japanese style arcade games. Unable to read the Japanese on the computer, we purchased the wrong tickets and had to finagle our way onto the indoor roller coaster ride. But after twisting the staff member's arm a little, we made our way onto the ride and had a pretty good time experiencing the Japanese culture. Tomorrow we will see who will be crowned as the first cable World Cup champion.
Sunday was the final day of the World Cup in Tokyo. There was such incredible riding here today. As the tide gets lower, the tension in the rope gets higher and handle passing becomes increasingly tough, but that didn't slow anyone down. At 10:00 AM on the dot the pro women were underway. Angelika Schriber had a killer run with a roll to blind and a blind judge that landed her in first place in the women's division. Right on her heels was Cosima Giemza who landed a Dum Dum off the kicker for the first time all weekend in the finals. Taking up the third spot was Denise de Haan with a flawless run as well.
I was in the second heat in the semis. I started out really strong with a toeside 270 transfer, followed by some toeside and heelside air tricks. Then, as I approached the kicker I knew I had to go all out, so I went for the mute double half cab roll. Unfortunately, the kicker out here is a bit smaller than what I'm used to and I under rotated. Because there is only one kicker, it's important to land it, so that put me just outside the finals, with Dominik, Laszlo Papp and James Young making it through to the finals.
The final was a spectacular showing. Freddie von Osten killed it with an inside front mobe, outside crow mobe, and switch toeside backside 450 transfer to name a few, landing him in the top spot. Dominik was right on his heels, as was James Young, both landing crow mobes off the flats and Raley 540's. These guys are always able to land their runs, despite the tide or the conditions. The contest wrapped up with the awards ceremony where the riders were presented with their trophies and checks.
After that we went to the city to experience Tokyo. This is such a different place. The culture here is very conservative compared to most of the places around the world. For instance, if you have tattoos, you are not allowed in the pool area. A giant group of us hopped on the metro from the hotel to the city center. Here we passed by all types of people. In Japan, the traditional wear for men is business slacks with short sleevewhite button down shirts. An astonishing 75 percent of the men here dress traditionally. That is quite different than the variety of clothes you see worn in the US.
The metro rail was an adventure in and of itself. Deciphering the Japanese map on the wall and then finding someone who spoke English proved to be quite the challenge. Once we were on our way, the view from the metro alone was amazing. After almost an hour ofconnecting train rails we arrived at our destination, which was swarming with locals. From here the group of foreign wakeboarders began ferociously snapping photos as if it was going out of style. After enough media was captured to feed a small village, we started to look for a place to dine. Trying to accommodate a group of 30 people in a last minute dinner is something I never wish upon anyone. Eventually, we all went our separate ways according to our tastes and met back at the metro later on.
Every part of this event was extraordinary for me. From the riding to the people, I had an amazing time. Coming from a boat riding background, the thing I love about cable is that it is truly an international sport. There were somewhere around 20 countries represented among the 44 riders here. When the riding is all said and done, its the friendships we develop along the way that remain. I'm so grateful for the friendships I've made this trip and I can't wait until the next one.
Click here to see the results from the Tokyo World Cup stop