COLD LAKE – The rider stood poised on his wake board, holding onto the boat-towed rope as he surfed over the water. Then he launched himself into the air, soaring above the water and spinning in mid-air. The crowd, watching from afar, erupted into cheers.
He was one of the over 30 competing wakeboarders during the inaugural appearance of the 2023 Alberta Wake Tour in Cold Lake on July 8 at the Kinosoo Beach, hosted by Water Ski and Wake Alberta (WSWA).
WSWA, established in 1967, aims to promote towed water sports in the province. This includes helping beginners get into the sport, as well as the development of athletes.
Every year, the WSWA runs the Alberta Wake Tour, a wake competition that involves tour stops throughout the province. Its second stop was in Cold Lake.
Christie Becker, who sits on the WSWA board, said the non-profit organization has been doing the Wake Tour for many years. “This is our first tour stop in Cold Lake... and the community welcomes us in,” she said.
“It has been a fantastic day full of community support, and lots of shout out to our sponsors,” such as Wicked Watersport Rentals, Wizard Lake Marine Inc., and the City of Cold Lake, said Becker.
Speaking of the turnout of spectators and competitors alike, “this is the community engagement we really like to see which is exciting,” she said. According to Becker, the Wake Tour was open to all, including beginners, with various divisions for different skill-levels. “I would say 50 per cent of the riders today,” are first timers.
Becker said she looks forward for the Wake Tour to come to Cold Lake again in the future.
Ashley Chugg, a committee member for WSWA’s Alberta Lake Tour committee, said there is a lot of interest in the sport within Alberta. “There’s a lot of athletes in Alberta who have done really well globally,” and Alberta even had a couple of world champions over the years, he said.
"There’s just a lot of interest so we try to get a community together to really just share the love of the sport, and that’s really what we’re about – sharing the love,” said Chugg.
There are other wake tours across North America and around the globe that are way more competitive, “but we are trying to be a place for people to maybe get their foot in the door, and maybe do their first competition, get a taste of it, and just share the love of the sport.”
It’s all about community building and making friends, he said.
Chugg said Cold Lake local Todd Adams suggested in February that the WSWA make a stop in the city, due to support from the city’s wakeboarding and surfing community.
The day “went awesome,” said Adams. “Even though it was a little bit windy... it was an awesome day.” He thanked the WSWA for stopping by Cold Lake. “Everyone from Cold Lake that I’ve talked to loved it.”
Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland also stopped by and presented the medals. When Adams presented the idea to City council, “everybody was really pumped” about having this event, as it also showcases the beauty of Cold Lake.
“It’s a great event and we have so many people in the area that do this sport,” said Copeland, adding that the sport is among the fastest growing sports in Canada, and having the Wake Tour also stop by in Cold Lake is an opportunity to expose the locals to the sport.
He thanked all those involved in making the event a success, including the volunteers, and hopes the Wake Tour will be coming to Cold Lake again in the future. The Wake Tour’s next stop will be Stafford Lake, 20 minutes east of Lethbridge, on July 29.
Todd Adams also placed first in the Master Male category, tailed by Brad Cowley in second place, and Ashley Chugg for third place.
For the Master Female category, Jamie Chugg won the top spot, followed by Celeste Matlock and Jody Cowley for second and third place.
The Amateur Female category saw Sloan Becker place first, followed by Emmy Matlock in second place, and Tia and Tayah Lunde tied for the third place.
Dexter Chugg won first place in the Amateur Male category. Meanwhile, Antoni Roy and Nicolas Roy won second and third place, respectively.
In the Amateur Male Skim category, Antony Roy placed first, followed by Andrey Gangloff and Nicolas Roy for second and third place.
Peter Kennedy claimed first place in the Outlaw Men category. Zack Lee won the second place, and Nolan Ringuette won the third place.
Amy Gillespie grabbed the gold medal in the Outlaw Women Category, while Hayden Becker took the silver, and Morgan Bateman with the bronze.
In the Junior Female Category, Morhan Eberherdt placed first, Keeva Keiser for second place, and Keira Kowelchuk for third place.
Bennet Bateman placed first in the Junior Male category, followed by Cohen Lamontagne for second, and Aiden Lamontagne for third place.