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Bone Crusher among todays King of Wake contenders
Rusty Malinoski on a wakeboard run. - photo by Photo Contributed


• WHAT: Pro Wakeboard competition featuring three divisions: Pro men, pro women and junior pro men.
• WHERE: Lathrop’s Mossdale Quarry Lakes at 96 W. Mossdale Road off Interstate 5 just south of the San Joaquin River crossing
• WHEN: Preliminary rounds continue today. Finals are set to begin at 3:30 p.m.
• ADMISSION: Today free; Saturday will be $13 for adults, $5 for kids and 5-and-under free. Tickets can be purchased from at a discounted rate.

LATHROP – Before there were water and wakes, high-powered boats, cash prizes and television cameras, Mossdale Quarry Lakes was home to rock.

Lots and lots of rock.

It was the kind of place you’d expect to find a hulk of a man nicknamed “Bone Crusher,” with tattoos sprawling up his arm and across his chest.

Not here – 90 feet behind a ski boat on the man-made lake, twisting and spinning through the air the grace and guile of a figure skater.

Rusty Malinoski is a 29-year-old pro with a tough-boy pedigree, equipped with shoulders designed to carry a heavy payload.

The Canadian native is one of the Pro Wakeboarding Tour’s elite, but also one of its true anomalies. In a sport defined by its long-haired, youthful daredevils – teens raised on boats ... raised watching Malinoski – he is the antithesis.

“Bone Crusher” didn’t cut his teeth on the water. Not the free-flowing kind, anyway.

The 6-foot, 210-pound Malinoski originally channeled his athleticism and will into hockey – Canada’s national pastime – and amateur motocross.

It wasn’t until he was 13 that Malinoski discovered wakeboarding, joining his brothers on a lake local to their hometown of Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Sixteen years later, he’s viewed as one of the sport’s revolutionaries.

And he’s landed here.

Malinoski arrives at Mossdale Quarry Lakes with the Pro Wakeboard Tour’s other stars, all of whom will vie for the King of Wake’s fourth stop this afternoon.

With victory come the spoils – a lucrative cash prize, points toward the season-ending championship, potential sponsorships and the unofficial crown of “Best in the Cali.”

The King of Wake series will head north to Washington following today’s title round, before turning east for the final push.

Malinoski, an 11th-year pro immortalized as the first to land a 1080-degree spin, finds himself chasing. He currently sits in third place on the King of Wake table, trailing Australian Harley Clifford (280) and world No. 1 Philip Soven (265).

The competition began Friday with preliminary rounds in pro men, pro women and junior pro men. Today’s lineup will feature quarterfinal and semifinal heats in the morning and early afternoon, with finals in all three classes scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. with the junior pro men.

Pro women finalists take the water at 4, and the pro men final will follow immediately. The event will conclude with the Polaroid Action Big Air Kicker Contest from 5:30-6 p.m.

The awards ceremony will be staged at the lake.

“Bone Crusher” hopes to find his way onto today’s podium.

It’s a familiar perch for the Team Body Glove boarder credited with landing the most 1080s in the history of the sport.

Malinoski has 11 career victories, including a WWA World Championship (2008), a United States WWA National Championship (2007), and a Canadian national championship. He is a two-time Wake Award winner for “Best Wakeboarder” and a three-time “Reader’s Poll” winner for Wakeboarding Magazine.

“The guy lives and breathes wakeboarding, and he wouldn’t have it any other way,” reads his bio on the Body Glove website. “Rusty is the original terminator in the wakeboard world. His motto ‘Work will win when wishing won’t’ has led him to amazing heights.”

But he hasn’t tasted victory since 2009, when he captured gold at the Wake Games.

Since then, it’s been a series of close-calls – a pair of runner-up finishes on Tour in 2010, a second at the Nautique Wake Games in 2011, and one second and two thirds on the Tour last year.

Will Mossdale Quarry Lakes – with Interstate 5 underfoot and the Sierra foothills in the distance – be the backdrop for his first victory in four years?

His nickname is “Bone Crusher.” Would you bet against him?