Jeff Rodgers made it a bookend finish at the Nautique Big Dawg World Tour stop at Little Mountain Lake in Maident, N.C., winning the fourth and final qualifier of the series on Aug. 6. Rodgers won the season-opening stop in Miami in May, and skipped the middle two events as they moved overseas to France and Spain.
Next up is the series finale in Rio Linda, California on Aug. 25-26.
The Little Mountain Lake stop, with support from area Nautique dealer Race City Marine of NASCAR hotbed Mooresville, N.C., drew a season-high 35 skiers from coast to coast. The Big Dawg tour is for 34-mph male slalom skiers ages 35 and older.
Rodgers, of Ninety-Six, S.C., ran 4 at 41 off in the first round of Saturday qualifying at Little Mountain Lake, then backed that up with 3 1/2 at 41 in the second round and advanced to Sunday's Sweet 16 as the No 1 seed. There, he opened with head-to-head wins against No. 16 Mark Brandt and then No. 9 Jodi Fisher.
Rodgers faced No. 4 seed Seth Stisher in the semifinals, after Stisher won head-to-heads against Scott Larson and Clay Neill. No. 12 seed Neill, whose family owns and developed Little Mountain Lake, was an upset winner against No. 5 seed Chad Scott in the round of 16 before meeting Stisher in the final eight.
In the semifinals, Rodgers topped Stisher's 3 1/2 at 39 by getting 6 at 39, then met Greg Badal, the No. 2 seed, in the final. Both ran 39 in the final, and Rodgers got 2 at 41 to Badal's 1 1/2.
Next up for Little Mountain Lake is the SportsInsurance.com Queens Cup for women on Sept. 16-17. Little Mountain and SportsInsurance.com came together for the inaugural Queens Cup in 2016, with cash purse and prizes totaling $12,000. The event provides a Big Dawg-type tournament for women 30 and older, whose maximum boat speeds are 30, 32 and 34 mph. The format mirrors the Big Dawg, with two qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sweet 16 head-to-heads Sunday.
Reigning champion Josefin Hirst will return to defend her title, and runner-up Joy Kelley is also returning to challenge.