New faces went big places at the 2011 World Championships of Skimboarding at Aliso Beach.
The 35th annual championships saw two first-time winners in the Men's and Women's Professional divisions and viewers from around the world taking in all the action from a live feed of the two-day event. The championships started Saturday and concluded with finals action Sunday.
Youth was served in the Men's and Women's Professional divisions, as local athlete Sam Stinnett won the men's title and Catherine Squillante, who traveled from Fredericksburg, Va., claimed the women's crown.
Last year's pro division winners, Morgan Just and Anna Prophet, finished 10th and second, respectively, in the men's and women's finals.
Other division winners were: Brad Dickey (40-and-Up); Paul Wade (30-39); Will Wright (25-29); Johnny Atoe (22-24); Tyler Cruickshank (18-21); Johnny Webber (15-17); Yuoto Kishida (12-14); Casey Ritzer (9-11); Lucas Jablon (8-and-Up) and Lauren Thunen (Women's).
The wins by Stinnett and Squillante were the big stories from the contest.
"Honestly, I think that the Men's Professional final and the Women's Professional champion were the big surprises of the weekend," said Trigg Garner, general manager at Victoria Skimboards in Laguna Beach, said. "Sam Stinnett has been chomping at the championship bit for a few years and finally climbed to the top.
Stinnett, 18, was less than a month removed from graduating from Laguna Beach High when he won Sunday's championship, his fifth try at the World Championships of Skimboarding. His previous best finish at the WCS was third place.
The battle for first place turned into a family affair: one of Stinnett's two older brothers, Jake, finished runner-up to the title.
"It was a dream come true to be in the final heat with all your brothers," said Stinnett, who played varsity soccer for three years at Laguna Beach High. "I'd like to give a shout out to my dad (Scott) for getting me to where I am today, also to all my sponsors for getting me the necessities of being a professional."
Squillante, a 14-year-old who recently completed the eighth-grade, won the Women's Professional division as a first-time competitor at the WCS. It's a quick ascend for a young girl who first took notice of the sport nearly nine years ago.
"We were on a family vacation on Coronado Island when Catherine was 5 or 6 years old," her mother Arleen recalled. "She noticed a boy who was about 12 years old skimboarding in the water. She said she thought it looked like fun and wanted to get a skimboard. We didn't live anywhere near a beach back home, but we got her this little wooden skimboard on the beach at Coronado and she has used that board until it splintered and cracked."
Catherine Squillante was beyond thrilled with her victory at Aliso Beach.
"I was really happy and excited, and stunned," she said. "I won some money ($400), which I had never done before. I've done other competitions but this one was my favorite. I loved doing it and I knew some of the pros, which made it more special."
Squillante said she was given three skimboard lessons from Just and another lesson from Paulo Prietto in the days leading up to last weekend's championships. Prietto went on to place sixth in the Men's Professional standings Sunday.
"They were great and showed me a lot," Squillante said. "Paulo taught me how fast time goes when you're out in the water and Morgan taught me how to go front-side, which is harder and more of a West Coast thing. We're not required to do that on the East Coast in competition."
Men's Professional Division: 1. Sam Stinnett; 2. Jake Stinnett; 3. Teddy Vlasis; 4. Blair Conklin; 5. Brad Domke; 6. Paulo Prietto; 7. Bill Bryan; 8. Brandon Sears; 9. Perry Wells; 10. Morgan Just; 11. Omar Meddeb; 12. Hunter Poller; 13. Matthieu Thibaud; 14. Harley Nelson; 15. Koty Lopez; 16. Austin Keen; 17. Tim Fulton; 18. Isaac Zoller; 19. Max Smetts; 20. Alex Hood; 21. Paddy Mack; 22. Travis Sampson and Keith Perry; 23. Alejandro Lopez; 24. EJ Sanico; 25. Dave Armstrong; 26. Bobby Haas; 27. Steve Taylor; 28. Austin Bleiweiss; 29. Derek Shenton; 30. John Akerman; 31. Newton Anderson.
Women's Professional Division: 1. Catherine Squillante; 2. Anna Prophet; 3. Lanakilla Kelliher; 4. Erin Carpenter; 5. Jen Jacobs; 6. Tia D'Ambrosio; 7. Silvia Garavito; 8. Yasmyn Andrade.
40-and-Up Division: 1. Brad Dickey; 2. Takayuki Iwasaki; 3. Ron Pesta
30-39 Division: 1. Paul Wade; 2. Lance Brooks; 3. Takatoshi Inada; 4. Robert Salazar
25-29 Division: 1. Will Wright; 2. Michael Yunich; 3. Kelly Hawlish; 4. Hiroto Suzuki
22-24 Division: 1. Johnny Atoe; 2. David Sterman; 3. Bryan Russak; 4. Kyle Smith
18-21 Division: 1. Tyler Cruickshank; 2. Daniel McDonald; 3. Trevor Stanaland; 4. Johnny Salta
15-17 Division: 1. Johnny Webber; 2. Perry Pruitt; 3. Jiovani Reyes; 4. Troy Rohten
12-14 Division: 1. Yuoto Kishida; 2. Max Webber; 3. Lucas Fink; 4. Timothy Gamboa
9-11 Division: 1. Casey Ritzer; 2. Fin Springston; 3. Jake Levin; 4. Groscolas Milan
8-and-Up Division: 1. Lucas Jablon; 2. Taylor Towe; 3. Tosh Johnson; 4. Zac Henderson; 5. Cade Dickey
Women's Division: 1. Lauren Thunen; 2. Kumiko Sawata; 3. Keeley Dickey
Sportsmanship Award: Paulo Prietto
Best Barrel: Sam Stinnett
Best Wipeout: Mayumi Kuwabara
Best Trick: Koty Lopez (360 Shuv-It Grab Mute)