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Original Issue

Their Time Is Now Bigger waves, bigger air, whiter water: Meet three teen athletes who are redefining the shredding edge of their sports

Makua Rothman, Surfing

When your goal is to ride the earth's biggest waves, it helps to
have the best in the business as your teachers. Makua Rothman, a
19-year-old from Sunset Beach, Hawaii, first stood on a surfboard
when he was three years old, and by the time he was 11, he was
learning the ins and outs of tow-in surfing from Darrick Doerner
and Laird Hamilton, two of the sport's pioneers and most
accomplished competitors. "They taught me everything I know,"
says Rothman. Last November he caught a 66-foot wave at the surf
break off Maui known as Jaws. The epic ride won him the top prize
of $66,000 in the 2003 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards. The
average age of the other four finalists was more than twice that
of Rothman's. "That was the first big thing I ever won, so I was
totally stoked," says Rothman, who promptly deposited the
winnings in his savings account. With talent like his, there's no
doubt he can bank on continued success.


In a sport in which grizzled veterans often aren't old enough to
drive, 18-year-old Jon McMurray of Calgary is a bit long in the
tooth to be touted as the next big thing. His age, though, has
yet to affect his good judgment--he still doesn't have any. The
self-described "addict for adrenaline" specializes in the
slopestyle (skiing over obstacles such as rails and tables) and
big air (the name says it all) disciplines. In his signature big
air jump, the Rodeo, he completes two helicopter spins with his
body parallel to the ground. Next winter he will compete in the
U.S. Freeskiing Open, in Vail, Colo., and make his Winter X Games
debut, in Aspen. McMurray will also appear in many of this year's
straight-to-video freeskiing films, as well as in his own
self-produced bit of gonzo cinema verite, Without a Cause, which
features him performing such stunts as diving off rooftops into
shrubbery. "I've done a lot of world-exclusive tricks that have
helped get my name out there," he says. "But I also do a lot of
insane stunts that bring me attention." --Mark Beech

Pat Keller, KAYAKING

"I want to be a kayaking legend," says 17-year-old Pat Keller.
Considering the success he has had already in freestyle and
extreme kayaking, it's not hard to believe he'll reach that goal.
The son of former river guides Carrie and Jerry, Pat began
competing at age nine near his hometown of Asheville, N.C. In
short order he not only met his kayaking idols--Tao Berman, Brad
Ludden and Clay Wright--but also started beating them. Keller has
won five races against pro competition and took the Homestake
Extreme Race at the 2003 Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colo. He
holds the world record in junior waterfall descents with a
75-foot drop over Koosah Falls in Oregon and boasts several
youngest descents of Class V+ rapids. Keller credits his compact
build (he's 5'9", 165 pounds) and attention to detail for his
rapid rise in the world of rapids descents. Asked if he has made
a mark in his sport, Keller says only, "I'm on my way up, I
guess." --T.B.