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Steph Caller's Plastic Playground experience
We caught up with Animal Advocate and wakeboarding extraordinaire Steph Caller to find out how she went at the UK wakeboard event of the year: Plastic Playground.
This is what she told us:
Plastic Playground has fast become one of the highest profile events on the International wakeboard calendar. And luckily for me it takes place at what is now my home cable park - Liquid Leisure.
As I mentioned in my recent blog in the lead-up to the event, this contest is quite unique as the riders are judged on features only (rails and kickers) - very similar to a snowboarding slopestyle course.
There were 40 riders in the pro men division, 23 of us in the pro women division, all who had either been invited or pre-qualified for the Plastic Playground event.
As always, it's an odd mix of nerves and excitement when you see your name on a start-list alongside so many of the best female wakeboarders from around the world!
I was really pleased with my qualification runs on Friday morning, with a clean 270 out of the handrail, a 180 on 360 out on the pool gap, and a big 540 off the kicker. Unfortunately though I narrowly missed out on the score needed to take me straight through to the semi finals. This meant I had to ride in the LCQ (Last Chance Qualifier) on Friday evening.
Unlike in a normal heat, where you get 2 runs and only your best run counts, in the LCQ everything rides on just 1 run. You really can't afford to crash! Luckily I managed to hold it together under the pressure, landing a stand up run that secured me a place in Sunday's Semi final.
I also rode in the 30+ age category (still can’t quite believe I’m now 31 and have been wakeboarding competitively for over 10 years!). This was a bit more chilled than the pro division, and was a great opportunity to have a few extra runs on a completely flat, empty lake. The finals for this division took place on the Saturday and I was really happy to come away with first place.
Though she secured a solid first place in the 30+ age category, Steph had to keep the celebrations low key as she had to ready herself for the semi final on Sunday.
I had to keep celebrations on Saturday night pretty low key though as my semi final for pro women kicked off bright and early at 9am on Sunday morning.
Steph's semi final run on the Sunday.
I knew I would really have to push myself to have a shot at making it through to the final and even though I got some good hits I didn't quite manage to put everything together in one clean run. Sill, I was super pleased to have got that far and riding in front of a bigger crowd on the Sunday was also a real buzz.
Now I could sit back, chill and watch all the Plastic Playground action unfold for the rest of the afternoon. The pro men were incredible, with some ridiculously technical, creative rail hits, huge kicker spins and a whole selection of double flips. They also had a kicker to quarter pipe feature that is definitely worth checking out these videos.
The pro women final was super close and really hard to call, but in the end it was Jamie Lopena (USA) who took the top spot, with Julia Rick (Germany) in second and Anna Nikstad (USA) in third. An absolute inspiration to watch, with the level getting insane.
Video highlights from event: http://www.plasticplayground.co.uk/video-highlights/
Full results listings: http://www.plasticplayground.co.uk/category/results/
A big thanks to Animal for donating some awesome raffle prizes in support of the Brad Smeele Foundation.
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