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A wakeskate winch adventure full of gaps, step ups and dirty drops. Taken from Syndicate Issue 3


Davis Matt Crowhurst shuvit drop

Stompin Grounds Turning a video shoot into a free for all winch fest Words: Hunter Davis Photos: John Grace, Hunter Davis Brain child of John Grace ‘Stompin Grounds’ is the wakeskate feature film to watch out for with some progressive riding and insane drops and spots it will surely be high on the ‘to watch’ list. This is a report from principal cinematographer - Hunter Davis on the spots and shooting around Denver where the initial part of the film was shot.

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There is more to Colorado than snow sports, tall mountains, and Coors Light. It is also the site of diverse and plentiful Wake Skate options. Centrally located is Denver, the largest city and capital of the state. A group of wakeskaters converged on this city in early June for a filming session in the upcoming winch driven Wake Skate film “Stompin’ Grounds.” The riders included Matt Hooker, Kyle Walton, Matt Crowhurst, and Geert Nielen. With such a talented group of individuals, the sport of wakeskating was about to explore the goods that the Rocky Mountain state has to offer. The first thing to remember when planning a trip to Denver is seasons. Although not actually located in the Rocky Mountains, the city is bordering the Front Range high on the prairie lands of Colorado at an elevation of 5,280 feet (1600m). In the winter time…its cold. In the summer time…it’s hot, and in the fall time its dry. Spring is the winching season for the mile high city. To be honest, if you are planning to winch in Denver, not only do you have to wait for the snowmelt of spring, you need to catch it early or late in the season. Peak run off equals blown out spots when you are winching and it will turn into extreme swimming and lost gear. Homework is essential. Always check those river gauges or call a local whitewater paddling shop and ask if there is enough water to boat. If they say no, its low, then go! The Denver metropolitan statistical area is 2.5 million. It’s a large urban area that has been altered many times over with spillways, dams, fake waterfalls, cemented over streambeds, ECT…which seems to be the perfect recipe for wake skating. Although you want low water flowing in and around Denver, SYNDICATEWAKE.COM

there is a buffer zone of different levels to get in the water. With so many different features located all around the city, each spot needs a unique level of water to make it good, so if something is too high or too low, just drive to the next and check it out. Bring a map or smart phone, check out the locations of the waterways and the many parks that line them. Access is easy. Setting up the winch is a synch. Many locations that we checked out on the trip looked really awesome, but didn’t have enough water in them. Plenty of jewels are yet to be discovered. Upon arriving in the Denver metro area, I would suggest starting out with Centennial Park. This location was a favorite for many of the riders on our trip. Matt Crowhurst and Geert Neilen displayed the techy tricks they have mastered on the cable and utilized them on a feature that only a winch can be used. Here, the South Platte River has been transformed into 7, slightly angled, cemented spillways with deep channels. At low flows they seem to be built as ramps for winching. By pulling upstream, the rider has the opportunity to get a great pop in the channels, allowing them to pull off any trick in the book with a friendly landing zone. Centennial Park is the perfect warm up location for a central Colorado winch trip. The “ramps” are all different in size and they also can be lined up together for combo maneuvers. At higher water, I think you would find nice gaps for downstream movement as well. Centennial Park will not disappoint. Downstream of Centennial Park is Confluence Park. Hold your composure


Davis Matt Hooker takes on a formidable three step drop SYNDICATEWAKE.COM

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Kyle Walton frontside 180 upon scouting this location (if you are ever in Denver and scouting the spot) out because there is a ton of man-made water falls here. Confluence Park got its name by being the location of where Cherry Creek dumps into the South Platte River in downtown Denver. Packed in this small area are small and medium sized gaps along both waterways, and one large mother on the South Platte. This location is a high profile zone with lots of visitors. Scouting it out is best before bringing in your gear. Like anywhere, pick what feature you want to tackle due to the popularity of park. The large gap is one of the coolest drops we saw on the trip. Its drops about 10 feet and is composed of

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three large steps. The city filled in the gap with rocks, which probably spans 10 feet in width. Speed is essential. Matt Hooker gave it a couple of goes but was unable to ride it out. The hits he was taking from this drop were intense. Bring your big boy pants for this descent, a couple of violent crashes will most likely happen your first couple of tries. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, choose one of the many other gaps of smaller size located up Cherry Creek or on the South Platte. Remember, check the landings here, we found rocks. There are many tributaries of the South Platte that converge in the city other


Grace than Cherry Creek. One of them is Sand Creek. Here we found a wild little double drop. Tall grasses and reeds surround this feature. Enter cautiously. Snake spottings seemed to be a normal occurrence here and the landing zone is shallow with jagged rocks. The team cleaned the landings as best they could, but it was still ugly. Kyle Walton showed his experience. Knowing how to fall is essential in a location like this in order to not break your face or body. It’s not easy to ride out a double combo when you know what the landing holds. Demons seem to scream at you when lining up each winch ride. Kyle knows how to fight the evil head games and turn on styli moves SYNDICATEWAKE.COM

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Davis Grace

Geert Nielen, kickflip

Matt Hooker reflecting on the less glamorous side of winching

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“Bring your big boy pants for this descent, a couple of violent crashes will most likely happen your first couple of tries”


Davis

off each drop, turning what could be ugly into something effortlessly smooth. By the way, who cares about venomous snakes when you can do a three spin into big 180 out? When being in Denver’s traffic starts to drive you crazy on your next winch trip, breathe and relax. Close your eyes and dream of a warm day on a beautiful mountain stream lined with bikinis and cold drinks. Wake up and realize this is not a dream but Boulder Creek located 30 minutes outside of Denver. Head Northwest out of town towards Boulder and follow the crowds leaving the University of Colorado campus heat and flocking to cool off in this little stream. It really is a spectacle to behold. The creek boasts plenty of small drop pool style drops with descent landings. Think technical combinations upstream and down. If you want to go big, continue upstream from the parking lot to find 2 large drops. Remember, the banks will have half the university’s undergrads partying and cheering you on throughout your day of winching; offering help, support, and refreshing beverages. Boulder Creek rocks, a must do location. As if Boulder couldn’t get any better, the city itself is renowned for having a plethora of good food. It’s important to fuel up before hitting one of Boulder’s best playgrounds. In the heart of the city is a dam about 4 feet in height with a deep landing and backed by a tough gap. It’s the perfect way to end your day in Boulder, and like the features located upstream, the crowds will be packed with enthusiasm. Wake skating this town will leave you with legendary stories and wanting to go back. One of the coolest things about a winch trip is finding random new spots; places that aren’t pictured online or on the map. You just spot them while driving around town. This happened on our way back to the hotel from Boulder, located just off the highway. Our hearts were pumping and the mood was ecstatic while walking up to the business park this feature lay in. What we found was pure gold. A triple pool drop, separated by 5-foot tall barriers and a final gap plunge of 7 feet into a football field length lake. The pools where small. They looked difficult to link up. Matt Hooker and Geert Neilen both gave it a go with success, pulling off many tricks. It was impressive to watch. Props had to be given to the driver of the winch as well. Winching is a team sport and Kyle Walton is one of the best driver’s in the business. Cradling the throttle, he gave the perfect speed for his buddies to land safely and maneuver through these quick features. Walking away from the business park that evening was awesome. The sport of wake skate was tested and all of us knew we stumbled across one of the coolest spots we would ever find. Winching in Denver seems to be endless. There are so many spots around town that have yet to be conquered or found. The city is clean and has done a wonderful job maintaining its parks and lining its rivers with greenways. Access issues did not exist. We were never hassled for winching, rather appreciated. Citizens smiled, laughed and cowered at crashes as well as cheering for successful descents. Friends were met a long the way and this worldly crew were true ambassadors of the sport. Educating spectators of the endless progression the sport of wake skate has to offer in the future with the use of a winch and the way we view our natural resources. Water is a fundamental element to life and spending a day exploring Wake Skate is the perfect way to enjoy it in Colorado. For more info on the film check out: stompin-grounds.com Show and tell for the office staff - Matt Hooker

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Stompin Grounds