World Championships of Skimboarding returns to Laguna

For the 36th time, some of the top local, national and international skimboarders will be in Laguna Beach to vie for top honors at the annual Victoria Skimboards World Championships of Skimboarding.

This year's event starts Saturday and concludes Sunday at Aliso Beach Park. One key feature of the championships is that it is the only live broadcast of a professional skimboarding event, said Trigg Garner, general manager of Victoria Skimboards.

Garner noted that the live web cast could reach more than 20,000 viewers worldwide.

"The main excitement surrounding this year's WCS is the live broadcast," he said. "With over 20,000 viewers in over 15 countries around the globe taking in the event in 2011, we have partnered up with some major players to help bring that number up substantially this year. No longer is a competitor competing for the attention of 400 people on the beach — they are now working the crowd of over 20,000 people across the world, which brings a new level of concentration, preparation and skill to the contest."

Garner said that about 120 competitors are expected for this year's championships, a group that includes between 30 and 40 professional skimboarders. Among the key competitors expected to compete this weekend in the Professional Men's division are: Morgan Just — the 2010 winner — Blair Conklin, Sam Stinnett, Bill Bryan — who has won the event 14 times — Paulo Prietto, Teddy Vlasis, Dave Armstrong and Austin Keen.

"But really, every heat in the professional division is like a semifinal, or final, and could be anyone's game, which makes the event that much better for the spectators on the beach and online," Garner said. "Almost every professional on the list this year could beat anyone on any given day. If you do not step up to the plate with your 'A game,' you will go home without the title of world champion."

Stinnett, a resident of Laguna Beach, won the Pro Men's division for the first time last year. Defending Pro Women's champion Catherine Squillante of Fredricksburg, Va., will not be back to defend her crown.

The championships includes amateur divisions for the following age groups: 8 and under; 9-11; 12-14; 15-17; 18-21; 22-24; 25-29; 30-39; 40 and up; Women 12 and under; and Women 13 and up.

Sign-in registration starts at 8 a.m. Saturday. At the conclusion of the contest on Sunday, an awards ceremony will start at around 5 p.m. at the site of the competition.

Garner said the goal of the annual competition is simple.

"The main thing we want people to know about our contest is we do it for the sport of skimboarding," he said. "All of our hard work is to benefit the sport of skimboarding and help it grow across all markets globally. It is this passion that drives us and will continue our push into the future."

Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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