Lake Utopia – Eight-year-old Sander Abony, who lives in Austin, Texas in the winter and summers in Utopia with his parents, discovered a few years ago he loves wakeboarding, and he is pretty good at it. So good in fact he is competing in matches, and winning. Just last week Abony competed in the Nautique WWA Wakeboard & Wake Park World Championships, held at the c, and placed second in his age division, which was for kids ages nine and under.
Abony’s father, Lorne Abony, said his son took up wakeboarding a couple of years ago, and he would practice for four to five hours each day on Lake Utopia. He became so good at the sport he was able to start competing, and he did “fabulously well”, according to his dad.
“He competed for Team Canada,” said Lorne. “He qualified for the world championships because of the tricks he can do. He loves it, and has a real affinity for wakeboarding.”
The competition, which was held in Mexico this year, involves doing a specific amount of tricks. Lorne said the adults are required to perform eight tricks, and the youths are required to perform 10. According to Lorne, this is a lot like figure skating and gymnastics, where tricks count for the bulk of the score. He said his son “stuck all of his 10 tricks”, which can be quite difficult, especially when it comes to executing and landing each trick.
“You have 10 tricks,” said Lorne. “Pros have eight, and juniors have 10. He landed his tricks in the semi-finals and in the finals, all 10 of his tricks. The finals only had four people. He made it to the finals, and finished second in the world. Even if he had placed last, he still would have been fourth in the world.”
Each year, the world wakeboarding championships are held in a different country. Last year, they were held in Japan. Not only was this a great opportunity for the eight year old to show off his skills, he also was able to meet other wakeboarders from all over the world. This year the competition was in Mexico. Lorne said his son had an excellent, world-class wakeboarding coach, Harley Clifford.
“We went down and there were participants from countless different countries, from Brazil to the UK to Japan to the US and Canada,” he said.
The division Abony competed in was for ages nine and under. His father said this means competitors must turn nine by the following calendar year in order to qualify. The eight-year-old ended up competing against others who are a year or two older than him, and not only did he manage to hold his own, he blew the competition out of the water, so to speak.
Lorne said his son would like to see wakeboarding competitions come to New Brunswick, and at the moment they are speaking with Wakeboarding Canada to bring the sport to the area, or at least to the Atlantic Provinces.
So, if you are at Lake Utopia next summer and notice a kid doing some fancy wakeboarding tricks, you can say that you are watching a world champion wakeboarder doing what he does best.
“If anyone sees him on Lake Utopia, you know it’s him,” said the proud dad.