I will go back as long as I’m still riding skis. The Daytona Freeride will not disappoint.
This was my first year attending the Daytona Freeride and my first time attending an East Coast event. I had an absolute blast and I recommend that everyone goes to this event. I didn’t know what to expect on the other side of the country, so I packed my bags and caught an overnight flight hoping for the best. I arrived at the Daytona airport around noon and walked straight to the baggage claim. I grabbed my bag and looked to my right and spotted a Liquid Militia shirt.
I immediately walked over to the guy wearing the shirt and introduced myself. After meeting Mark Walker and talking for a few minutes he offered me a ride to the event in his rental car. I was STOKED to be in Daytona for only 5 minutes and I already organized a free ride to the event. On the way to the event I was chatting with one of the other guys in the car and it turns out that he lives only a few houses over from my cousin in Philadelphia, PA. Sometimes I can’t believe how small of a world it is.
We arrived at the host hotel after a quick lunch and shopping adventure. The weather was absolutely perfect I was able to wear shorts and sandals all weekend. After checking in, I met up with Nicholas Foederer to grab my rider pass which is a a necessity if you want to ride. The next step was to walk the beach to see if I could bum a ride on a ski. A few minutes later I got to take Michael Grasso’s super jet for a rip. The surf conditions were pretty fun and it was pretty warm outside. I got away with only wearing my wet suit bottoms, it was a nice change from the West Coast surf. After a nice riding session I met up with Mark and his friends for dinner.
I basically went out to dinner with a random group of people that I haven’t met before. Everyone was super nice and welcoming, I was immediately treated like part of their riding crew. I stayed up pretty late waiting for my roommate (Cookie Monster) to arrive, she ended up missing her flight and arrived much later than expected. Luckily I killed the time by talking about jet skis with Buck, Bryan, Cameron and others down at the hotel bar. We probably could have talked till the sun came up, but I eventually called it a night and crashed out.
The next morning I woke up, grabbed breakfast, put on my sandals, and hit the beach. The beach was packed with awesome people and amazing skis. While walking down the beach I managed to hang out at the Skat-Trak booth with Michelle and Tom (Hot Products) for a bit. Michelle hooked me up with a sweet Skat-Trak hat and Tom gave me a Hot Products shirt for hanging out with them. They were giving out hats and shirts to tons of people that stopped by the booth. After hanging out at the booth for a bit I grabbed some lunch and walked the beach again. I spent countless hours meeting new people and enjoying the amazing weather. Towards the end of the day I suited up to ride some of my teammates skis. Mark Gomez and Brandon Lawlor were nice enough to let me take their skis for a ride in the beautiful Florida surf. While riding I witnessed Mark Gomez to be the first person to back flip a jet surf motorized surf board. It was crazy that guy can do anything LOL…
After some riding I went out to dinner with the same group from the night before. We decided to stay out a bit later and hit the club. We had a blast at the club that was conveniently located across the street from the hotel. On our way home we found a 24 hour pizza parlor, so we grabbed a quick snack before bed.
The following morning I was a bit sleep deprived, but it was totally worth it. I grabbed some breakfast and went down to the beach to watch the surf style event. My buddy Sean Starr was crushing it and ended up taking home first place! He was on fire all weekend. After watching Sean ride I got to experience the Cherry Popper event. The Cherry Popper is a contest for people to stick their first back flip. This event was priceless. There were so many awesome attempts and bails. I could have watched it all day. Eventually all of the contestants landed their flips. After the Cherry Popper I suited up and took Sean Starr’s ski for a ride. While riding his ski I witnessed Sean back flip one of the jet surf boards. I think Sean is determined to catch up to Mark’s accomplishments and he’s doing a great job of it. After my first ride I took a break and then went out again on Randy Lawlor’s ski. Randy’s ski was a monster with his massive engine. It wore me out pretty fast so I only had a short ride.
After the events closed down we got cleaned up and went to the Kona Tiki Bar for dinner. The bar was basically taken over by jet ski riders, it was such a cool experience to look around and see nothing but awesome people that share the same interest. After dinner we went back to the club and got a bit out of control. We had the times of our lives and ended up closing out the place. Immediately after the club we went back to the pizza shop for a late night snack. I swear the guy at the pizza place knew my name by the end of the weekend, we probably spent way too much time there.
The last day was the hardest part of the trip. Heading home from awesome events is always a bummer. After packing my bags I hopped in the car with Melissa and Michelle. We ate at a place called Steve’s diner. This diner was recommended to us by Jeff (Steve) Bolte. This diner had the best homemade food. Mark, Kaley, Andrew, Melissa, Michelle, Jeff, and I all talked about the future events that we plan to attend while we were eating. We all decided to come back to Daytona for 2018. This event was absolutely worth traveling for. It was such a nice break from the cold Las Vegas weather. I highly suggest this event to everyone. I will go back as long as I’m still riding skis. Daytona will not disappoint.