POLK CITY, Fla. ¾ In his first professional wakeboard
tournament, Tino Santori (Littleton, Colo.) beat out a field
of top professional riders Sunday on his way to winning the U.S.
Open Wakeboard Championships, presented by Tigé Boats, at
Cranes Roost in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Twelve invited pro riders
and six challengers, including Santori, competed for $35,000 in
cash prizes at the three-day event, hosted by Altamonte Sports and
sanctioned by the American Wakeboard Association.
Santori, 18, qualified to compete in
the event on Friday by winning the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) heat
in the challenge round. As the LCQ winner, Santori beat out 28
challenge riders for the last competing seat in the tournament. His
score of 84.79 points in the LCQ heat was the highest score of the
day among challenge riders. Santori then proceeded to win two
rounds of competition on Saturday and Sunday (one win per day) for
a first-place finish overall. Darin Shapiro (Orlando, Fla.)
was right on Santori’s heels, finishing a close second.
Shaun Murray (Orlando, Fla.) and Parks Bonifay (Lake
Alfred, Fla.) rounded out the top-four placements.
“The U.S. Open Wakeboard
Championships was created by riders for riders,” said Brett
Thurley, vice president for Tigé Boats and the
tournament’s organizer. “I think we were successful in
providing a format and a facility that allowed the riders to
showcase their potential on the water to the fullest extent.
Everyone walked away happy.”
The U.S. Open Wakeboard Championships
featured four rounds of competition, which included a set number of
passes and double-ups. Each athlete competed in two rounds per day.
Riders’ top placements of each day were totaled for final
scores. Each of the 19 riders received a cash prize for competing
in the event. This year marks the first time in the event’s
history that the U.S. Open Wakeboard Championships has not been
held in conjunction with the U.S. Open Water Ski Championships.
Besides Shapiro, Murray and Bonifay,
other invited riders who competed in the U.S. Open Wakeboard
Championships were: Erik Ruck, Danny Harf, Josh Sanders, Brett
Eisenhauer, Shane Bonifay, Daniel Watkins, Chad Sharpe, Cobe
Mikacich and Keith Lyman. Challenge round qualifiers included:
Andrew Adkison, Chris Law, Gerry Nunn, Kris Northrup, Trevor Hansen
Murray received an award for the
tournament’s best double-up. Adkison was honored as the
event’s number one challenger, and the best slider went to
Tigé Boats was the official
towboat of the IWSF Wakeboard World Championships in 2000 and 2001,
and is the official towboat of the 2002 IWSF Wakeboard World
Championships, Dec. 5-7, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Altamonte
Sports hosted the 2001 and 2002 Disabled Water Ski National
Championships, and will host the 2003 Disabled Water Ski National
Championships and the 2003 Disabled Water Ski World
USA Water Ski was formed
in 1939 as a non-profit organization promoting water skiing in the
United States. USA Water Ski is affiliated with the IWSF (world
governing body) and is recognized by the United States Olympic
Committee and Pan-American Sports Organization as the national
governing body of organized water skiing in the United States. With
more than 40,000 members, USA Water Ski is the largest water ski
federation in the world.