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St. Norbert College Student to Compete in National Wakeboarding Championship

From St. Norbert College, October 1, 2014
by Erich Wegenke, erich.wegenke@snc.edu, 920-403-3089

Matt Larson of Berlin, Wis., a St. Norbert College senior, is set to compete in the National Points Chase wakeboarding championship, which will take place Oct. 1-5 at Hydrous Wake Park in Little Elm, Texas. Larson will enter the championship under the Advanced (Semi-Pro) and Open Mens divisions. He is sponsored by LIQUID FORCE, TEVA, Vooray and Jetpilot.

Wakeboarding -- originally known as "skurfing" -- is a sport that originated in Australia and the United States in the 1980s. It combines elements of water skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing. A wakeboarder is usually towed behind a motorboat, like a water skier, but for competitions like the National Points Chase Championship, participants are instead towed along by a series of cables encircling a wakeboarding park.

Only three people qualify for each division of the championship. Each rider in the competition is given two turns, both consisting of a full lap around the course and an extra pass on the first stretch. Following the completion of the second turn, a rider can perform an additional "wildcard" trick that is added to the score of that rider's best-scoring turn.

Although he has entered competitions at Nordic Wake Park in Wisconsin and traveled to Florida, Ohio and North Carolina during school breaks to keep practicing his wakeboarding techniques, the summer of 2014 is the first time Larson has attended a competition out of state. In order to compete in the National Points Chase Championship, he had to qualify at a points chase event at one of the 19 designated cable wakeboard parks in the United States.

The closest of these parks to Larson was Wake Nation in Cincinnati. He entered two of the park's three official competitions in summer 2014, entering under the Pro division both times. In his first competition in Cincinnati, Larson placed third in his division; in the second, he placed first.

Larson's "wildcard" trick at the competition was a toeside 900, which involves cutting towards a jump on the toe-side edge of the board and spinning around two and a half times while in the air.

Larson has been wakeboarding since 2008. His passion for the sport began when he learned to water ski in seventh grade, with his parents' encouragement. "My dad water skied when he was a kid and I wanted to try it," Larson said. After he learned the basics of water skiing, his parents would take him to Silver Lake in Wautoma, Wis. every weekend so he could practice. "I definitely couldn't do any of this without the support of my parents," he said, "and I can't thank them enough."

From standard water skiing, Larson progressed to slalom skiing and then to trick skiing. After that he decided to give wakeboarding a try, reasoning that he already knew the similar techniques involved in snowboarding. "After the first time I put on a wakeboard I was hooked," he said.

In addition to qualifying for the National Points Chase Championship that summer, Larson was also a featured rider at the opening of a new wake park in Rockford, Ill. West Rock Wake Park -- one of the first such facilities in the Chicago area -- held its opening event on Aug. 8, 2014, and Larson guest-starred at the park's debut along with professional kneeboarder Frankie Panno.

More information on the National Points Chase Championship is available at http://www.pointschase.com.