Here's you: You're skimming the water, standing on a flat mixture of foam, resin and fiberglass — measuring roughly 4 feet long and a foot-and-a-half wide — being towed by a specially designed boat going 25 miles per hour. The boat spins out a wake, you swing into it, pop off, and find yourself flying flat in the air parallel to the water, before you right yourself to land on your feet.
You've just nailed a "raley," and you might have still lost the competition.
"These days, the level of riding is so high, you can hit your run perfectly and still take a second or third," says 28-year-old professional wakeboarder Andrew Adkison. "The level of riding has just jumped this year."
Few know the watery ups and downs like Adkison. The Panama City, Fla., native grew up surfing the waves of the Gulf of Mexico, before a friend paid his entry fee into a 2002 contest in Detroit.
"I went literally from Friday, being another guy riding a wakeboard, which was great, [to] within three days, I'd taken fourth behind the three best ever and qualified for the X Games and the [now-defunct] Gravity Games."
"Double-A" won pro wakeboarding's Rookie of the Year award that year, and has been riding professionally every since, competing in championships from Tokyo to Cairo to Rio de Janeiro. On Friday and Saturday, he and a host of others are headed to Prospect Lake for the fourth of five stops on the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour.
Each rider brings roughly 12 tricks to each judged contest, changing where they perform them depending on the course. Adkison, who's been competing with a hairline fracture in his left forearm most of the season, says he's just happy to be healthy. "This is the first one where I really feel 100 percent.
"This is it," he adds. "The MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour is the best of the best; that's the elite, that's what everybody strives to be a part of. It's the hardest to compete on, the best wakes, the best everything. What's coming to Colorado Springs is the elite — this is it."
I read an early draft of Ghostland in 2014 that was written by Jon Orr…