MONROE, Wash. – The 2019 Nautique World Wake Association (WWA) Wakeboard National Championships are in the books and this year, there was some local flavor in the field. Cullman native Kane Ward, 8, placed first in the 9 & Under Jr. Boys Division after scoring an 88.00 in the Final Round up against the nation’s top wakeboarders in his division. Ward advanced to the event after winning a regional qualifier in Orlando.
Ward’s father, Justin, is blown away by how quickly his son’s skills have advanced.
“It’s obviously a proud daddy moment,” Ward said. “Kane has shown a lot of skill from an early age. He started riding when he was 3, and I think he started flipping on a wakeboard around 5 or 6 years old, and last year at 7 years old, I think he learned like five different flips and three different spins and he’s just kind of blown up from there. He’s got them real consistent and he’s getting better and better every time he goes out.”
After performing very well in the semi-final round, Ward earned the chance to do his final run last, giving him a chance to watch the other competitors go before him.
His dad explained how the event is set up and the position Ward was in when he began his finals run.
“There’s a buoy that you start from and then there’s one that ends your run and you can only get in about five tricks before you get to the end of the path and then the boat turns around you get another pass. You can only fall one time where they’ll turn around and pick you up, on your second fall, you’re done,” Justin Ward said. “So, you have to be super consistent, especially if you’re throwing harder tricks, so there’s a little bit of strategy to it if you’re riding last because you can play it safe depending on what the other riders do.”
After watching the rest of the field compete before him, Kane Ward began his final run, but things started a little choppy. He fell on one of his first tricks, ramping up the pressure and making it an even more exciting, if stressful, experience for his family watching when he pulled off the win.
“(Kane’s) first two tricks are kind of just stylish stuff that you have to get in and then his third trick is a nose grab 180 and he fell on it. He never falls on that ever and so now he’s got to get up and land all of his hardest stuff with no falls,” Justin Ward said. “He got up, squeezed in two flips before the buoy, the boat turns around and he does a backflip, toe side backflip, heel side 360, comes back with a switch 180 and then another heel side back side 360 to win. So, it was pretty clutch, and he definitely got some fist bumps and claps from the boats that were judging. You just don’t see a little kid doing that kind of stuff.”
Kane Ward is bringing the WWA National Title back home to Cullman, but his season isn’t over just yet. He will hit the water again soon when he travels to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico in October for the WWA Wakeboard and Wake Park World Championships. To see more of his progress throughout the season and his preparation for the World Championships, you can follow his Instagram page athttps://www.instagram.com/_kaneward_/.
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