Keenan Flegel does tricks on his skim board during a recent competition.

Wakesurfing competition wowed crowds at Koocanusa

Keenan Flegel won top spot for pro men in the surf and skim board categories at the Koocanusa Wakesurfing Challenge earlier this month.

The Koocanusa Wakesurfing Challenge came out of hibernation this year and provided a weekend of entertainment on the lake.

The competition, which was hosted at Sunshine Houseboats near Newgate, BC, saw roughly 50 competitors compete for three days, from Aug. 21 to 23. The event was a qualifier for the 2015 World Series of Wake Surfing.

The Challenge returned after a hiatus in 2014, and saw a few less professional riders than normal. That was made up for in how many juniors and amateurs were interested in competing this year.

“We were super stoked on having so many juniors, because usually it’s hard to get the kids to want to compete,” said Caroline Villeneuve, who was one of the main organizers of the event. “That’s one thing that I was very happy about this weekend.”

Keenan Flegel took the top place for pro men in both the surf and skim board categories, while Villenueve herself claimed both women’s titles. Currently Villeneuve is ranked second in the world for the sport, and that’s one of her motivations behind the event. She wants to give local wakesurf enthusiasts a chance to compete and step into the competitive world.

“Four years ago, when I did the first one, there was no other competition in Canada, at all, that was part of the World Series. For local people to access the World’s, they needed to qualify in a world qualifier and we had to go to the States,” Villenueve said. “By doing this, this opens the door to a lot of riders. It’s just to promote the sport. It’s really for fun, and some people take it a little more seriously than others.”

The weather caused a few headaches on Friday, but overall, the event had ideal conditions for the remainder of the weekend. “We had to re-organize the dinner that was supposed to be on Friday and push it to Saturday, it was a lot of re-adjustment along the way, but overall, it ran very smoothly,” said Villenueve.

The Rocky Mountain Wakesurfing Association (RMWA) was the main organizer for the event, but they had help from many sponsors and partners. “We are a very small group, so it is a lot of work, but it’s worth it,” said Villeneuve, who also is the president of the RMWA. “And these kind of events don’t happen without sponsors and volunteers.” Villeneuve also credited H20 School, Drone U, Body Glove, Boardstiff, Gear Hub, Phase Five, Centurion Boats, and Giver Shirt Works, among many others for their help with making the event happen.