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In summer's wake, Minnesota surfers aim for world championship

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Minnesota may lack an ocean but we've got surfers.

The Star Tribune rode along with a couple of the country's best as they prepare for this weekend's World Wake Surfing Championships, which are being held in equally ocean-less Las Vegas, Nevada.

In addition to being a couple of the world's top professional wake surfers, the Star Tribune says Chris and Stacia Bank of Wayzata are among 11 locals heading to Vegas for the championship.

The event is put together by the Competitive Wake Surf Association, which Chris Bank leads.

Not familiar with wake surfing?

It borrows some elements from its cousins, waterskiing and wakeboarding. But once a surfer is up on the board, the tow rope goes back in the boat. The surfing happens within the boat's wake, with the impressiveness of the spins and other maneuvers determining the best.

Here's a short video that shows how beginners might get started:

And a longer one that shows how some of the hotshots do it:

Its boosters say wake surfing is the country's fastest-growing water sport and Lake Minnetonka has become Minnesota's hotspot.

WCCO reported last month on a wake surfing competition held on Minnetonka's Cook Bay. Trevor Grindland, another of Minnesota's top competitors, told the station the wake surfing community in the state is a strong one.

“Everybody is just a close-knit family that loves to have fun, and we all push each other competitively,” Grindland said.

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Of course, nothing kills wake surfing like a no-wake zone. And flooding early in the summer left Minnetonka under a no wake order for weeks, costing the area a big chunk of its short-lived surfing season.

KARE 11 reported in July on a proposal to relax the restriction long enough to hold a wake surfing event, but that idea was opposed by home and business owners on the lake.

Eventually, though, the water level went down and the surf was up. Chris Bank, who at 42 is the oldest professional wake surfer, tells the Star Tribune the short window of time Minnesotans have each year to enjoy wake surfing helps make people here more passionate about the sport.

And some are passionate enough to make it to this week's championships. Tell the teacher they're surfing. In Las Vegas.

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