A new twist to the World Championships of Skimboarding takes place Saturday and Sunday with the staging of the first invitational contest on the 2007 United Skimboarding Tour.
Hosted by Victoria Skimboards of Laguna Beach and touted simply as, “The Vic,” the contest is invite-only and will be played out at Aliso Beach — considered home of one of the best and most demanding shore breaks for skimboarding in the world.
“The world championships are in their 31st year and it is the longest running contest on the circuit,” said Trigg Garner, general manager at Victoria Skimboards who helps run several aspects of the contest.
The action figures to be intense Saturday and Sunday as professional and amateur athletes from several countries battle for the coveted title of “world’s best.”
Skimboard athletes from Chile, Portugal, Mexico, Japan and Australia are scheduled to compete.
Some of the top local professionals entering the competition are defending champion Bill Bryan, Paulo Prietto, Morgan Just, Grady Archbold, Koty Lopez, George Bryan, Dominic Prietto and Jason Wilson. Other talented skimboarders will compete in amateur divisions this weekend, as well.
“This year will have some of the best from different countries and it should be an all-out brawl,” Garner said. “There are many different styles that will be competing and I honestly feel that the person that is able to adapt to the styles and conditions the quickest and most efficiently will come out on top.
“We can always expect the skate influence — tricks mixed with ruthless aggression.”
Bryan may be the defending Pro Division champion, but top riders such as Just, Archbold, Paulo Prietto, Hugo Santos and Daniel Alvarez, are a few of the competitors who will pose a serious threat.
“Hugo Santos from Portugal is touted to be the ‘Bill Bryan’ of Portugal, and it will be wonderful to see the two of them in competition together this year,” Garner said. “My gut feeling is this matchup is highly anticipated by those that know skimboarding.”
Last year, the World Championships of Skimboarding celebrated its 30th anniversary and 13 proved to be a lucky number for Bryan, but luck was not on the side of Jaime Lovett.
Lovett was announced as the winner of a hotly-contested Pro Division but computer tabulations later revealed that Bryan had indeed won the event.
It was world title No. 13 for Bryan.
Sumner Miller, who grew up in north Laguna Beach, will compete this weekend in the amateur 30-39 division.
The weekend competition will be his third entry into the championships: he placed second in the division in his first attempt in 2005 and last year finished in fourth-place.
“It’s great to compete,” said the 32-year-old, a west coast sales rep for Victoria Skimboards. “It makes you step up your game, when you want to beat the other guys in your heat. Then you realize that you can really only exceed your own expectations in those 12 minutes. Breathe easy, stay focused and enjoy the moment.
“It’s great knowing that this contest attracts skimmers from so many different areas. We have guys and girls from Japan, Chile, Brazil, France, Portugal, Canada, Hawaii, and all over the east and west coastes of the U.S.”
The championships is open to the public.
“We are excited for the contest and the international draw of the event this year,” Garner said.