World Cup’s definitely rank at the top of the list as the best events to attend for a number of reasons.
1. You get to ride against the top ranked riders in the world,
2. It’s invitational, which means the Iwwf pays for everything; flight, accom, food, riding – you name it!
3. Everyone is usually flying solo since typically one male and one female from each country get invited. This means that you really get a chance to spend time with people from different countries. I’ve definitely made some cool friends from all over the world at these events, and I look forward to catching up with them each year.
4. They always happen in far away lands – Phillipines, Norway, Beijing, Shanghai, all grounds for epic adventures.
When I got the invite this year I was stoked to see a bunch of the regulars on the list, Sanne (NED), Maxine (NED), Cosima (GER), Steph (GBR), Sophia (GER), Julia (GER), but also a ton of new faces who I had the chance to meet in Norway last year; Candice (FRA), Chloe (GBR), Sophie (GBR) and the Russian gals Victoria and Alexandra. All these girls shred, especially at air tricks, so I went into the event with a goal of making top 12, and I figured I would be lucky if I did!
I arrived late on Wednesday to find the familiar faces of two chicas I hadn’t seen since the Phillipine worlds – Robbie, an amazing boat rider from Argentina, and Anna, the Swedish queen of cable/kite crossover. The only American was Gunther Oka, so I decided to adopted him as my ‘North American’ team mate since we were both lone rangers. Malin Overby, a Sweedish girl living in Australia managed to score me as her roomate… i know she’s a lucky right?? tee hee.
The first day we arrived at the cable park the weather was top notch; windy, raining, white caps off the far corner big enough to take you out if you weren’t paying attention. The cable was right on the ocean which meant salt water, (and beautiful hair!) and the rails were slim to none. Which for me and my mediocre air trick game, is a bit of a bummer. I got myself into the groove and actually had one of the best rides of the year. We packed up early so we could make the treck into Shanghai.
There are always two key things that you need when you go adventuring in foreign countries. #1 is an old school map, preferably in both English and the native language (Mandarin), and the address of your hotel in the local language incase you get lost. Eleven of us decided we would take the metro into the downtown core to explore the skyline, one of the highlights of modern Shanghai. Little did we know it would be an hour cab ride to the metro, and an hour navigating the subway line. That is just HOW BIG Shanghai is. It is insane. Identical highrise buildings that go for miles and miles and looks like something right out of the movie Inception with Leo. When we got to the subway we were greeted with vendors selling everything, and I mean everything. Shoes, wallets, umbrellas, fruit, PUPPIES, BUNNIES and small chicks in cages. It was a sad sight for the westerners who aren’t accustom to eating basically every type of meat available.
Once we got downtown we were immersed in the modern world. The skyline was made up of unbelievable architecture, the Oriental Pearl Tower, buildings shaped as giant bottle openers and shopping malls lit up with two story diamond lights for shops none other than the Parisian likes of Louis Vitton. My good friend Meghan Kyle had lived in Shaghai for five years and gave me a few tricks of the trade. One was to skip the observation deck line up and head on up to the Hyatt hotel on the 93rd floor for happy hour beverages. Same view, just a whole lot more delicious.
After about an hour, a good dinner, some walking about we navigated our way back on the subway to our hotel.
Day 3- Qualies! The heats were posted early on Saturday morning and I lucked out with one of the ‘easier’ (they were all hard but heat A was totally stacked) heats. My strategy was to do one easy run, and on the second just to go for it. My first run put me up into second place, but I figured that wouldn’t last too long with Cosi and the Russian Alex hot on my heels. I stacked on my Blind Judge not quite making it to the corner on time so came out bummed after my second run. Surprisingly the other girls all fell, which gave me a buy straight to the final 8. YEW! I was pretty stoked, I’m normally one of the LCQ queens so making it straight to finals was a big surprise. That meant I got to chill for the rest of the day and cheer on the girls riding LCQs.
Sunday – Finals day. We all rocked up to the cable to find gale force winds blowing straight down the course with legitimate swell coming onto the beach. My immediate thoughts were – why they heck didn’t I bring my kite??? At one point the carrier ladder even broke because of the wind, so it wasn’t looking good for finals. Some how and angel smiled down on the girls, the clouds parted, rain stopped, wind dyed and sun came out. (Ok maybe not to that extreme) but we did luck out on a weather window. All the girls threw down. I did my safety run again but I knew it wasn’t going to be enough, so I went for it on my final run. Waham back edge on a blind judge, but I was stoked all the same just to make it to finals with the best of the best. Julia, Max, Sophia, Sanne, Steph, Melissa and Victoria threw down amazing runs. 313s, double Sbends, back mobes, front to blinds, kgbs, you name it. It is always exciting getting to watch these girls ride and being a part of all the action.
After the contest we decided to get massages. Alex had mentioned a really great place down the road, so we hopped in a cab and got on our merry way. When we arrived there was no massage parlor in site. We went into a nail salon, then climbed the stairs to what we thought looked promising, but were shown three massage chairs where you watch epic Chinese reality televisions shows. I do have to mention that EVERYTHING is in Chinese with no hope of finding anyone that speaks a lick of English. We were three blond haired westerners literally acting out massages on each other in hopes that they would understand. Eventually we realized we were actually in the right spot when they pulled out google translator that said ‘deep tissue’. We were shown a different room that had massage beds, success.
Steph and I started to strip down and the lady stopped us saying ‘no no no’. So we got on the bed fully clothed not knowing what to expect. That was when the lady started digging her elbow right into the knots in my back, and ninja chopping each muscle. I knew I was in for an authentic Chinese massage. On the ceiling there are two bars, and the lady got up on the table and started actually walking on my back holding onto these bars. Definitely not relaxing but man, did I feel great after! At one point Malin came into the room covered in weird oil saying ‘Um guys, I don’t think I got the same massage as you did.” Chalk it up for one for the experience books.
The rest of the night ended as all major events do; at a Chinese bar with a full-scale runway and Chinese male models sporting comb-over hairdos twice the size of Toronto Hipsters. Naturally that walkway became an epic dance floor for the riders and ski jumpers to shake their off-water moves. My night ended as it typically does, talking wakeboard politics with the heavy hitters into the wee morning light in the hotel lobby. Eventually I went to bed to wake up a few hours later and tour the city.
The last day we ventured to the ‘Cheap-o-lou’ mall, land of knock off ipods, phones, shoes, hats, suitcases and selfie sticks. We all bartered our faces off and spent far to many Chinese Yuan’s. After that we walked around Peoples Square, then jumped into a cab that took us to Old Shanghai street. This was filled with tea shops, gift shops, food vendors and old-fashion Chinese architecture wrapped up pretty for the foreigners. We ended our day with another visit to the skyline and a cab ride home to our well-deserved hotel beds.
All in-all the trip was amazing, but I was happy to be home. The food in foreign countries is always something I look forward to trying, but after six days of questionable dishes , squatting toilets, hotel lobby smoke and the smells of Asia I was ready to get my butt back to Canada. Shanghai – you were definitely an experience ! I will miss all my new found international friends, but I’m sure I will see all your lovely faces sometime soon 🙂