OSAGE BEACH — When No. 2-ranked pro wakeboarder Rusty Malinoski did not attend this weekends’ Summerfest Four wakeboard tournament at Lake of the Ozarks, it gave No. 3 Chad Sharpe a better chance to win the competition. However, late Friday night, No. 1-ranked Phillip Soven decided to fly out from Orlando, Fla., for the event.
“Chad is having the best year that I have ever seen him have,” Soven said. “The last time I rode against him I beat him, then the time before that he beat me. So I’ll have to keep an eye on him.”
Hundreds watched from the shore as about 30 to 40 boats lined the competition area for Sunday’s finals.
The professional boarders were busy all day, in between signing autographs on fan’s boards and posters they took to the water for a semifinal and then the finals which included Soven, Sharpe, No. 4 Keith Lidberg, and No. 5 Trevor Hansen, who all live in Florida.
Because of the seedings, Lidberg was the first to ride in the finals. Sharpe was next, performed a good 720 (two mid-air rotations or 720 degrees) and a scarecrow, which is jumping the wake then spinning in the air and grabbing the towbar at the small of the back.
Hansen’s finals run was plagued by two falls, which ended his day. When Soven performed, he used every trick he had, including a high 540 (turning one and a half times in the air while switching the handle from one hand to another). It drew plenty of noise from the crowd, and the judges took note as well, rewarding him with first place.
“I went in knowing what I wanted to do,” Soven said. “Today, I just needed to stand up and ride.”
Soven, who has been a professional for seven years, added the exhibition win to three tour wins, making it his best year as a professional. He has a chance to finish his season with another win next weekend in Portland, Ore. His win Sunday also came $3,000 in prize money and a gold metal.
Sharpe is also carrying on with a standout year, securing second on Sunday, which netted him the silver and a $2,000 purse.
“A podium spot is still a podium spot, and there is a lot of hard work that goes in to getting there,” Sharpe said.
Lidberg picked up third place, a bronze metal and $1,000 with his run.
In the Outlaw division, just below the Pros, 18-year-old Lake of the Ozarks rider Kirby Liesmann secured his first major win.
“I knew I had it once I stood throughout my second pass,” Liesmann said. “I have some better tricks that I could have done, but I’m glad I didn’t. They come with the bigger chance of me falling.”
The win landed him $500, but also comes with the invitation to compete against the pros next year. But because of his age and that he has sponsors Liesmann will have to move up to the pro bracket next year anyway. He said he will be excited to come back and board in next year’s Summerfest.
“It will be a good event to come run in. Liesmann said. “It’s in my own territory, and against some of the best in the world.”