The Orion

Chico State athletes wow at Wake Fest

Sabrina Grislis

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Soul id, a Chico-based social media website for action sport athletes and photographers, hosted the 2015 Wake Fest, the first wakeboarding event in Chico history.

The competitors were pulled across Sycamore Pool in Bidwell Park by a dual-winch system that launched the riders over a 24-foot rail and two separate jumps. The athletes, hailing from all over California, competed in three categories: pro, men’s advanced and women’s, before a panel of judges.

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Thomas Costa rides off the 24-foot rail during Soul id’s Wake Fest on Friday, Sept. 11. Photo credit: John Domogma

Though an event like this has ever been done before, Soul id did organize a ski and snowboard competition in downtown Chico last February.

“We’re all about doing unique, urban events,” said Eli Libby, public relations director for Soul id. “Now we have that credibility with the the city to put on events like Wake Fest.”

Because the 30 competitors were pulled by a winch system across the pool, intermediate and advanced skill level was required for Wake Fest. The Orion sat down with Chico State competitors who excelled at Wake Fest.

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Expert wakeboarder Brandon Mercer with a massive jump over the ramp at Sycamore pool on Friday during Soul id’s annual Wake Fest. Photo credit: John Domogma

Athlete

Brandon Mercer, first place pro winner

Hometown

Vacaville

Age

23

Year in school

Senior

Major

Environmental science

When did you start wakeboarding?

“I learned when I was about 12 on Lake Almanor. I would go up there during summer with my family. I’ve always been really passionate about wakeboarding. That’s why I joined the team— It really helps to ride with the team. They’re always pushing you to ride better.”

How did you hear about this competition?

“Soul id came [to the Chico State Wakeboarding Team] and asked us to be part of the event.”

How do you feel about the competition?

“I felt pretty lucky— the winch is kind of inconsistent. It could have been anyone’s win. I was pretty pumped on just making finals.”

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Steph LeClaire (first) and Christy Walowit (second) hug in celebration of their wins at the Soul id Wake Fest in front of Sycamore Pool on Friday, Sept. 11. Photo credit: John Domogma

Athlete

Christy Walowit, second place women’s winner

Hometown

South Lake Tahoe

Age

20

Year in school

Junior

Major

Nutrition and food science

Future plans:

“I’m going to be applying into the Dietetics option in March. I would like to become a pediatric dietitian.”

When did you start wake boarding?

“I learned how when I was 8 or 9. I’ve never done anything like this. It has always been behind the boat at Lake Tahoe.”

How did you hear about this competition?

“I have a lot of friends who are involved with Soul id, and I’m staff at Adventure Outings so we hear about events like this a lot.”

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Scott Rodriguez of Chico State hits the ramp during the intermediate portion of Wake Fest. Photo credit: John Domogma

Athlete

Scott Rodriguez, first place men’s advanced category

Hometown

San Ramon

Age

21

Year in school

Senior

Major

Concrete industry management

Future plans

“I’m interested in more of the civil service side, like designing bridges. But right now, I’m still trying to get internships so I can find out what I’m interested in.”

When did you start wakeboarding?

“I learned when I was about 15. But once I came to Chico and joined the team is when I started getting serious about it and becoming motivated to get better.”

How did you hear about this event?

“[The Chico State Wakeboarding team] has always wanted to do something like this down here. We’ve been in constant contact with [Soul id], helping them figure things out.”

Libby encourages any and all action and adventure athletes to get involved.

“By creating a Soul id account, you’ll be able to get all the top content for action and adventure sports,” he said.

Sabrina Grislis can be reached at [email protected] or @sabrinagrislis on Twitter.

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Chico State athletes wow at Wake Fest