"O'NeillWake The Line" Friday was out of the way with the event's first everQuarter Pipe and Kicker contest champions crowned. Back to normal proceedingswith anything but normal wakeskating and wakeboarding in store, the Stadionbadgates were opened, the thousands flocked in and the worlds biggest obstacleriding spectacle was underway.
Eight of the best wakeskaters in the world madeup athletes repping the US, Germany and South Africa started proceedings. Thetried and tested head to head format remained the same for all the action. Theone coming up best out of three runs moves through to the next round. It was acase of big guns against newbie, the only testing result for the German crowdswas seeing local hero Lukas Suss fall foul of some solid riding from YanLacomte, taking on "O'Neill Wake The Line" for the very first time. Afour man super final was made up of former winners and podium placers, REEDHANSEN and JAN KISSMANN, going toe to toe against those in Cologne at theirfirst ever "O'Neill Wake The Line", DIETER HUMPSCH and Mr YANLECOMTE.
The day moved at a rapid pace as always and witha smattering of rain, a few gusty high winds that came and went, the Cologneskies just about held out for us. It was looking as though we were going to getthe battle that many were anticipating between Germany's own NICO VONLERCHENFELD and Canada's RAPH DEROME, both seemingly in possession of the runsthat would be hard to beat by anyone else. Round three was all she wrote forNICO however in a shocking early exit for the former "O'Neill Wake TheLine" champ, popping the handle so uncharacteristically after not reallyfinding his true form all day. OLI DEROME's solid pressing in every direction andan unreal, stomped, backside 540 late indy meant his rags to riches story wascomplete, making it through to the final after an initial early exit. TheHENSHAW vs. VOLLERT battle will be one to remember. Both old hats when it comesto the "O'Neill Wake The Line" pressure cooker and this couldn't havebeen more obvious, the pairing taking it to the wire and a third run deciderthat gave the judges the hardest decision of the day. It went HENSHAW's waymaking for an all out Candadian take over of the final with just the Austrian,HERNLER, standing in between our transatlantic friends and a clean sweep of thepodium.
Super final time, a packed house, the most insanedays riding ever seen and still more to come. The technicality of all thewakeskaters was something to behold, all manner of shoves and flips in and outof pools, on and off rails were getting dropped. It was a one / two for theriding compadre's of REED HANSEN and DIETER HUMPSCH, both dropping varial flipsout of the spillway pool, REED's locked in moves edging him ahead of the SouthAfrican. It was not to be another podium experience for local JAN KISSMANN muchto the crowd and his dismay, having shown such poise, control and dominanceevery time he took to the water up to this point, fluffing his first run andYAN LECOMTE using this to put the squeeze on with his second run. KISSMANN justcouldn't fight his was back into the top three, making it two first timers onthe podium and KISSMANN settling for fourth.
The super final surpassed all previous climaxesto "O'Neill Wake The Line" with RAPH DEROME further enhancing hisdominance of the wake world taking down the other three finalists with not eventhe slightest waiver. Surprisingly, where double flips have seemingly been theflavour of the past year it was a spin, grab, tech fest off the kickers, RAPH'smonumental heel side cab 900 melon grab half way through, sealing his title offthe back of the biggest presses of the day. HENSHAW's unique use of the set-upseparating him from the rest was surely what secured him his second place,followed by the consistency of OLI DEROME taking down third.
A betting man would not have made much money ifhe'd put a money on RAPH at the start of this year's "O'Neill Wake TheLine" simply because the buzz always had RAPH coming up with the goods.Who'll be able to take him down if anyone? Well there are plenty of riders herethat will be back in 2014 to give it a good go along with yet more newcomersand the best of the wakeskating fraternity hungry for the prestige, honour andbragging rights that come with owning the top spot at the one and only"O'Neill Wake The Line presented by Relentless Energy Drink"!
1st RAPH DEROME (CAN)
2nd KEVIN HENSHAW (CAN)
3rd OLI DEROME (CAN)
1st REED HANSEN (USA)
2nd DIETER HUMPSCH (SA)
3rd YAN LECOMTE (CAN)