The night before the St. George competition we were carpooling down the I-15 in the middle of Utah when a huge flash flood hit about 40 miles outside of St. George. We had to slow down to about 15 mph, and after about a half hour of rain and hail we hit clear skies again. As soon as we got to St. George we hit up the river to check out the conditions. The river was low; ideal for the competition. Isaac Thomas (DB Skimmer) quickly jumped in with his board to stretch out his legs.
After we checked out the river, we grabbed some In-N-Out with a side of “For the Moment” and “Stranger Things Happen”. While we were relaxing, the same storm we left on the I-15 hit – bad news for the competition since a high river would make it hard to pull off.
Lexi Hutchings was anxious to check out the river conditions the next morning, so we all packed in the car early and headed out. The river was pretty high leaving only a few spots that would be any good for riding. Some quick work was done to flatten out some sandbars to make those spots as good as possible.
For those that have never been to a flatland competition, they are usually broken up into two segments – with and without rails. In the first heat for the pro’s (w/o rails), Brent Lippencott (Sac.) and Isaac Thomas were matched up really well. Matt Ratoni (Sac.), Peter Hodgins (Sac.), and Zack Hooker all stood out in the second heat – Matt seemed to be on really on. Peter pulled a back flip, a Utah favorite, and that picture ended up in the local paper. Utah LOVES the back flip (and other cheesy standard Utah tricks of yesteryear)!
The rails segment seemed to divide the boys from the men. In the first heat Brent and Isaac were still killing it. In the second heat Peter, Matt, and Zack were the stand-outs again. One of the locals, Dillon, really got jacked up on the up-and-down rail. After his crash you couldn’t really tell what happened, but Dillon wasn’t moving away from the box and it looked like he was tugging on one the PVC pipes. Turns out his finger somehow got stuck in the rail and the screw that held the pipe on the box was instead holding his finger. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a screwdriver and 11 stitches… hopefully he’ll get some feeling back in that finger! (Search YouTube to see the gnarly footage.)
When the finals came around, we saw some major flaws in the judging system. In every comp you will always have complaints and issues with judging, but in this case the judging flaws became very apparent.
The final heat included Brent, Matt, Isaac, Zack and Mike “Skim” Louie. Lexi Hutchings, winner of the women’s division, was also included in the finals. Not to take away from any of these riders but everyone was surprised that Peter Hodgins didn’t make it. He landed some pretty big stuff and was very consistent throughout the comp. Isaac and Matt were definitely the standouts in the final heat. They both landed just about everything in every combo you could imagine. They were both also the only ones to land the s-rail. The two riders definitely looked unbeatable – it would be a toss up which one would claim first. Isaac ended up with first, but Matt didn’t even make it in the top three! This was pretty awkward for all the riders and was by far the biggest disappointment in the judging.
The Virgin River is a great skim spot, but the comp itself has some issues. Besides shortfalls in the judging department, the less-than-mediocre rails are definitely another issue that the comp needs to confront. The rails come from local riders and some local shops, but nobody is really taking the lead to get competition-quality rails for the riders.
1st place: Isaac Thomas
2nd place: Zack “Slash” Hooker
3rd place: Mike “Skim” Louie
1st place: Blake Zimmerman
1st place: Tyson Hubbard
1st place: Lexi Hutchings