Located 100 miles from the nearest ocean, Kelly Slater’s Wave Ranch is a surreal environment for surfing, but the surfers all agree it’s an amazing ride. Taking place this weekend September 6th-9th, the inaugural Surf Ranch Pro is a shakeup to the unpredictable weather and lack of swells than can plague surf contests. With a perfect, consistent wave every time, viewers can notice more of the subtle differences between each surfers approach and style. The Wave Ranch may never substitute for the epic conditions ocean waves can provide, however it undoubtedly creates a more balanced format that benefits a fairer competitive environment.
Similarly to surfing, skiers and snowboarders are heavily reliant on conditions to push the boundaries of their disciplines. Contests are often scheduled months and years in advance, unfortunately even with the best intentions, sometimes the timing for events does not equate to excellent conditions. What if timing didn’t matter and we could produce excellent powder conditions at any time though?
Imagine the Freeride World Tour going off with guaranteed bluebird skies, fresh powder and custom designed features for skiers to hit. The entrants equally getting the opportunity to really showcase their skills and not worry about weird anomalies that can arise in more natural environments. No one imagined Kelly Slater would be able to develop his dream artificial wave, but now only a couple of years after its debut, the World Surf League has greenlighted it for use at one of their premier contests. The disadvantages created by weather and poor conditions are a huge part of the strategy in winning events like the Free World Tour, but it would certainly be a unique experience to have a sterile environment where no one can argue about the ‘fairness’ or luck involved.
Potentially with snow making, course design and construction; you could be watching the next big mountain ski or snowboard event in a very non-snowy place. Surfers would have never imagined that one of the biggest events in the sport would eventually take place at a dusty ranch, on a freshwater pond with a high-tech wave system. For better or worse though, it’s hard to argue against the impressive consistent waves of the Wave Ranch.