Stop #5 of The Wakeskate Tour "The Contingency" ended with a bang. The unmistakeable bang of hammers. This insane conclusion of The Wakeskate Tour was the perfect way to cap off a great year. After the original event site was flooded out by tropical weather, Nick Taylor, TJ Giesey and Reed Hansen pulled together one of the most shreddable sites we saw all year. A two-drop set up with both flat ledges and down rails at The Projects pulled by a Sesitec System 2.0 made The Contingency.
We knew at pro practice on Friday that this event could hold some of the best riding we have ever seen, but what really happened was nothing less than the best wakeskating the world has ever seen. Even to make it out of the quarterfinals, you had to bring your "A" game.
Early on, we saw multiple flip tricks thrown in solid lines. Austin Pastura was doing switch front tails all day, TJ Giesey did a perfect back noseblunt, all of this setting up what was to come. This year has been insane, but what the riders started to do in semis was on a different level. Ben Horan got through with a 360 flip down the first drop right into a varial heelflip down the second drop. From there, he started dialing in kickflip backlips on the down rail of the big drop. This was a clear signal that wakeskating was about to experience a growth spurt.
Finals is where the real showdown took place. Each rider knew it was game time and if they wanted a spot on the podium, they would need to put down a line so impressive it would be unforgettable. Matt Manzari, being the first rider to climb all the way to the finals from the qualifying rounds all year, had a run that could've won any event in the past; front board 270 shuv on the ledge to drop, then a perfect 360 flip down the drop. Daniel Grant did a kickflip, then a BS 270 to front lip on the down rail, just one of the brand new tricks to go down in the finals and just one of his mind-blowing lines proving that this crazy grom is here to stay and his wakeskating just keeps getting better and better.
Nick Taylor was putting a show on all day and threw down in the finals with a solid 360 flip on the first drop, right into a textbook frontside flip down the big drop, but was unfortunately sidelined by an ankle injury on a switch kickflip down the big drop. Austin Pastura was doing a front tail bigspin over to switch front tail and was perfecting this line all day. Any wakeskater in the world would give anything to do a front tail like Austin Pastura, let alone bigspins out or doing it perfectly switch. He rode amazing all day and nearly landed switch tailslide bigspin multiple times.
The real story here, however, is Ben Horan vs. Andrew Pastura. Feeling out the kickflip back lip all day long, the crowd knew Ben was just bound to nail one. Sure enough, 20 minutes into the finals Ben hit it and the crowd went insane, knowing this trick has never been done before on a rail like this. Ben learned it during the contest, a true testament to the progression of the riders and The Wakeskate Tour this year. With plenty of time on the clock and knowing his first kickflip back lip was a little rough around the edges, Ben set out to clean it up.
Andrew Pastura saw the kickflip back lip and didn't let up. Within a few tries, he did a frontshuv boardslide followed by an immaculate kickflip frontboard, an insanely technical trick that has never been done before on a wakeskate.
Now the heat is cranking and if you were in the crowd you could feel the energy. Ben knew he had just been knocked out of first place and knew what he had to do in order to take it back. Ben Horan put together the best line anyone has ever seen; a clean 360 flip down the first drop, right into a kickflip back lip that couldn't have been done any better. I've been involved in wakeskating for well over ten years now and yes we have had great leaps of progression, but nothing like this. Being part of the crowd this day was the most significant thing in wakeskating I've ever seen happen. We truly witnessed the best day in wakeskating's history.