The Quiksilver King of the Groms East Coast Qualifier wrapped up yesterday in Florida with a full field of 40 groms. In the end, New Smyrna surfer Evan Geiselman was crowned the 2009 East Coast King. Along with the $850 cash for Skins, Evan also won an all-expense paid trip to France to compete in the King of the Groms World Championships this September.
Quiksilver, always taking a creative approach with special events, brought the coveted King of the Groms Skins East Coast Qualifier to a new level this year. Small waves in the deprived lake Atlantic forced the contest organizers to move the contest to the wave rich wave pool of Walt Disney World's Typhoon Lagoon. This is the first time a surf event was set to run in the ocean, and then moved to an inland wave pool.
"We had attempted to run the KOG on three separate occasions going all the way back to early June, and have been shut down by one flat spell after another," says Matt Kechele, director and master mind, of the KOG Skins concept. "This year with our decision in moving it to the wave pool which most would agree is the ultimate ‘ Froth Tank for Groms', we decided to maximize the fun factor for the Groms, and bring in a new twist to the Skins format."
Rather than the four to six surfers in a heat, each Grom lined up for their allotted three waves for what Kechele calls the Quiksilver "Skin Select." The Grom gets his/her choice of which will be the chosen score by claiming it and throwing an arm signal to the judges. Scores are then called out live and then the next grom in line walks down the stairs and paddles four feet to the take off zone knowing another rebound replica right wedge would be spit out every 85 seconds.
"The Walt Disney World staff was amazing and hospitable,as one would expect of the leading theme park industry icons that they are. It was great to get the opportunity to complete the event in a new location.", Kechele stated.
Evan Geiselman was on fire and was looking like a shoe-in finalist from the looks of his very first wave. Other solid performers throughout the night were Tanner Strohmenger from South Florida, Christian Miller from Palm Beach, the Crouteau brothers from Ft. Pierce, super grom, Luke Marks and mighty ‘mo ten year old Noah Schweizer from New Smyrna Beach. In the final round, it was Geiselman from New Smyrna Beach Florida, who posted up one of the highest scores of the evening with a very vertical backhand attack with his signature stylish flow throughout his final allotted two waves. Evan claimed the correct wave posting a 7.35 edging out fellow New Smyrnian, Noah Schweizer, by a mere .72. Tanner Strohmenger showed great focus throughout, and punted a nice grab rail to put him in the third spot followed by Christian Miller nabbing the fourth spot.
Evan will travel to France this September to compete in the King of the Groms World Championships. Bringing together 16 Kings from around the world, including winner of the King of the Groms Santa Cruz Regional Qualifier Andrew Jacobson and the King of the Groms Hawaii winner Ezekiel Lau, the final showdown will be held in conjunction with the Quiksilver Pro France, a Men's ASP World Tour contest.