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By Kevin Brown

Best in the West 2008 was a huge success for the community of Missoula, Montana. Best in the West is back on the scene as a legit freestyle contest. Back in the freestyle boom era the event drew most of the top paddlers in the industry. As the freestyle scene struggled for identity, Best in the West started to suffer and struggled to be a legit comp.

For those of you who don’t already know, downtown Missoula is home to Brennan’s wave. Brennan’s is a man made play wave/hole, which is a memorial to legendary Missoula boater Brennan Guth. With the right flows Brennan’s is one of the best features I’ve ever played on. Gary Lacy built the wave, so it is similar to some of his other features you’ve maybe scene or surfed. However, like all features it is unique.

Best in the West kicked off Friday night at Big Sky Brewery with a Y.G.P. film premiere. I have to give a shout out to the Y.G.P. boys, they are pushing the sport for sure and their video the source is sick! Anyway it was $8 to get into the video, which also included all the Big Sky brew you could drink–Fun times.

On comp day the Clark Fork River was at 9000 cfs and the wave was on the verge of blowing out. Originally finals were scheduled for Sunday, but do to water levels we decided to do the whole event in one day. The wave held tough, bottomless and every trick imaginable was offered up. We had a great turn out of both athletes and spectators. The weather was insane with sun shinning and temperatures in the 90’s. Red Bull came out in usual style and helped make event into a rad scene with DJ’s and all their accessories. The day started out sweet for a couple young shredders who graduated from World Class Kayak Academy. The Jr. freestyle started after graduation around 3:00 that afternoon. JR’s were followed by women’s open and then men’s open.

Team Jackson boater and World Kayak student, Michael Palmer ruled the Jr. Division. He was coming off a shoulder injury and wasn’t sure if he would even be able to paddle. However, like a true addict, comp day he was in the water and ready to throw down taking 1st place in the Jr. category. The women’s division was small, but packed with talent. It was a close battle for 1st place. Local girl Alley Fontenot and Jackson team member Devon Barker were in a tight battle all day. Alley ended up winning and taking home the coveted 1st place Montana style belt buckle. The men’s division was the biggest group of athletes. This division was packed with talent including the likes of Johnny Myers, Karl Moser, Jud Kieser, Josh Becktel, Eddie Hake, Luke Rieker and many more. The finals were tight and making into the final round were myself (KB), Johnny Myers and Karl Moser. The scores were close and now it was down to one ride and lowest score was out. I had my best ride of the day here –wew! Johnny and Karl had great rides, however Karl didn’t make the cut. Now it was between Johnny and I for 1st. Johnny has a belt buckle already from back in the day, so I really wanted to win this thing. I wanted the belt buckle and a win on my home wave. I was in first at this point, so I was going last. I was in this same position at the Reno men’s open one week previous and ended up second, so I really wanted this. Myers took his ride and had a flush and not nearly his best ride of the day. Here I was belt buckle in sight in front of my home crowd. I pealed out on the wave, sun was shinning, beats were bump-n, I was feeling it and then dam it, I flushed on an air loop –no this isn’t happening! It was close in the end, but my good friend beat me by a couple points and won another belt buckle. Next Year Dude! Anyway it’s all over now and I’m heading to Colorado next week for Teva Games and Fibark for some more fun. Hope everyone can make it to Montana next year!

See ya on the water KB-

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edge booth
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Jrs Eddy
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paddler Bnw
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red bull1
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Team JK Signing up