It’s crazy to look back now and see how the time has flown by. Seven years of The Roots. Eight if you include 2009 provincials! This series has taught me so much as a person, it has brought me my very best friends in the whole world, and a community that is not just supportive, its 100% a family. Which is why it is such a bittersweet feeling to be writing this farewell story to you all.
How did it all come to be? Well back in 2009 the Wakeboard scene in Ontario went through a shift. The strong minds behind the Nautique XCup series (Dave T, Tiff T, Eric Snidal, Neil Brown, Doug Holden, Scott Duke, Sean Flemming) had all collectively decided to move on as the demands of everyday life started to become must more time consuming. Riders like myself, Leslie Sparkes, Jay Poole, Ally Boothroyd, Jono Boysen, Addison Farr, Scotty boysen were in our early 20s and saw the need for a new series. So we put our heads together and started The Roots with the guidance of the past XCup representatives. The first year we just tried to keep our heads afloat, personally financing the series just so that the competitive wakeboard scene in Ontario wouldn’t die. Everyone jumped in to help – all the riders, parents, friends, family… we didn’t know what we would be starting.
35 events later, two national championships and 7 Wake Awards, we have one of the strongest Wakeboard Communities in the world. I thought it would be fun to share a quick timeline of everything we have been together with as a group over the years:
2009 – Before the ‘official’ inauguration of the Roots Erika Langman and a group of Ottawa riders (Craig McCallion, Jordan Sien, Adam Janota, Joe O’Hara) Teamed up with Slaysh Boardshop out of Ottawa to run the Ontario Provincial championships at Nangor Resort. Craig McCallion and his team built a rooftop rail, and Jordan pulled the contest with his Ride the Wake Malibu
2010 – This was the official year of inauguration of The Roots! The 2nd Gen crew (Erika Langman, Jono Boysen, Ally Boothroyd, Jay Poole, Leslie Sparkes, Mike Case, Addison Farr got together with Dave Tsuyuki, Tiff Tsuyuki and Sean Flemming )to start the ‘New XCup’. Paul Roberts offered his site at Summerski Lake to host the first stop, and the next two were at Nangor followed by Gravenhurst. Props to the Basecamp team who was a big help in the organization of the events that year. Also something to note this was the first year of Ontario Wake Awards. Wake Awards was basically a brainstorm idea we came up with to raise money for The Roots. We thought it would be hilarious to see all the wakeboarders dressed up at a Black Tie event. I don’t think we ever thought it would go so far!! Thank you to Red Bull, Shavonne HM, Jordy Lavery and Jono Boysen for making that first year happen at one of the coolest venues around.
2011 – This will forever be known as the year of the Disney XD Box. That box has been around the block – it was built by Jim Brace for the Village Wake Up event held at Blue Mountain Resort back in 2007. It then was passed along to The Roots, then to The Ranch, and it currently resides at The Rail Yard Wake Park. 2011 stops included: Summerski Lake, Algonquin Outfitters Open in Huntsville, and Ontario Provinicials in Haliburton Ontario.
2012 – This was the year of Wake Park!! We introduced three new Wake Park events in addition to the three boat stops. The first stop was the Ranch/Spray Lake stop in Newmarket, followed by Boarderpass Sarnia, and Boarderpass Niagra in Port Colborn. Boat events included Huntsville and Haliburton. This was the year we also include The Red Bull Ollie contest at the Haliburton Stop. Also something to note, Vince Whiteman dropped the ‘Thank You’ video that put everyone to tears at Wake Awards. That, and I think everyone took home 5 different colours of Roots T-shirts that summer!!
2013 – Wake Park Take over!! This was the first year we started to see Wake Park numbers jump to around the same amount as the boat riders. Wake park stops included The Ranch, The Rail Yard provincial championships and, Boarderpass Niagra in Port Colborne. This was also the first year that The Roots Crew takes on the National Championships at Bushs & What Wake Park, Muskoka. Also something to note – Red Bull Raise the Bar put on a show with the first High Jump competition in Wakeboarding, and RipCurl’s The Judgement dropped for the second year with a kick off party at the Kee to Bala.
2014 The year of Bushes!! This was the first year The Roots crew decided to consolidate the wakeboard and wake park events into three rad weekends of fun. Spray Lake/Ranch, Haliburton/Rail Yard, Bushs/ What Wake Park Provincials. Also keen to note wakestock moved to Bala, and The Roots crew hosted it’s second National Championships in Bala.
2015 – This was the year we had to out on a Wake Awards Hiatus, as we got into some trouble after the last year’s event. We decided to keep it mellow and host a BBQ at the Spray Lake stop. Also note the series was cut back to two big weekends with the expectation that Wakestock , and Malibu Rider experience was to take over the third. The two weekend stops were Ranch/Spray & Rail Yard/Haliburton.
2016 – Our current year!! Our Finale!!! Shout out to Derek Brown for the new venue for Wake Awards, it was a grand ol time. Also huge thank you to The Ranch, Rail Yard, What Wake Park and Bushs for hosting our last events under The Roots title.
So yes! We have been through so much as a group, so why stop now?? Well, evolution my dear Watson!
When we first started the Roots we were meeting a demand for boat riding. We had over 100 participants at our provincial championships back in Haliburton, our days were so long the Open riders would be riding in the dark. Then we saw the birth of Wake parks all over the province. The Roots really helped to get new riders into this brave new discipline of our sport, playing around with contest formats that included air tricks, eventually moving into features only. Now the demand for boat events has decreased, and the Wake Parks are running the show. Also, our team is mirroring that of the original XCup organizers, we have new commitments in life like family, job demands that take away precious planning time needed to make The Roots the baller series that it is.
I look back at everything we have accomplished and what I see is opportunity. Opportunity for these Wake Parks to really own their own events – the perfect example of this was Slightly Human’s Boost or Bust event at The Ranch a few weeks back. New events, with a new flair, that gets everyone stoked all over again for riding. It doesn’t mean The Roots crew is gone – we aren’t going anywhere. We will be here to help the next step in Wakeboarding evolve, to share our knowledge and experience with Gen 3.0, and I am really excited to see it happen.
SO That being said, we are calling EVERYONE to come join us this Weekend at What Wake Park in Bala for one big last Hur-ahhh of The Roots Wake Series. Camping is encouraged on site, boat contest is Saturday, Wake Park on Sunday. Let’s send out this series Roots Wake style!!
Erika Langman & The Roots Wake Crew