Parks: That’s right, a double rap 720. Sack up
Zane: Hank Amos did a double rap mobe.
Parks: In your opinion, what do you think it takes for a rider to be successful in wakeboarding?
Zane: It takes a little extra work. There are a lot of guys out there who are really good riders, but it’s off-water stuff like being personable, marketing yourself to the right group, talking to the right people and going the extra mile.
Parks: Boat shows?
Zane: Yeah, it’s all the stuff nobody wants to talk about, but, dude, I meet more people who wakeboard every year because I go to a ton of boat shows and, you know, it’s the middle of winter. It’s snowing and you’re in Canada, and they are stoked about wakeboarding! That’s important to go talk to those people and make sure they keep that stoke through the winter and come back and do it. You can’t get lazy, man. Shit, I saw you get lazy one year. You know you came out of the box, you kicked everybody’s ass and you took a year off because you got a half-pipe and you frickin’ started having a little fun there in Lake Alfred. Then you got your ass kicked and you came back and worked your ass off and you kicked everybody’s ass again! People do that too often.
Parks: What is the most beers you drank without peeing?
Zane: Fourteen in roughly, what would you say, an hour and a half?
Parks: Honestly, I got to 14 and I quit, and Rusty Malinoski got to like 16. I swear I think you got to 17 or 18.
Zane: It might have been 17 or 18. I don’t recall, but I do know I got to like two more beers than Rusty did that night.
Parks: So we’re going to go on record with 17 beers without peeing.
Zane: Seventeen without peeing.
Parks: What did you think of my whole roast night? You had to start it off, but you did a really good job.
Zane: I can’t tell you the last time I was so nervous to talk to a bunch of wakeboarders. Because I really just wanted to have a good time roasting you, but I totally didn’t think about how in a roast everybody roasts each other. And I didn’t think about what you guys were going to do to me, and I appreciate every fat, hairless, bald, boat salesmen comment you guys made, because it was pretty damn funny. But that was nerve-racking man. I mean, that was one of the coolest things I’ve done in a long time with wakeboarding.
Parks: You’ve competed in the best all-around skier in the world. Tell us about that and your arch nemesis.
Zane: Uh, what year was that thing?
Parks: Was that at SeaWorld?
Zane: It was at Cypress Gardens. It was a slalom, trick, jump, wakeboard, air chair, barefoot tricks, freestyle jump and I think there was a wildcard. I trained a little bit because I wanted to win it.
Parks: Yeah, you were pretty good at all of those.
Zane: It turned out all right, you know. The most fun thing was the wildcard. You could do whatever you wanted. One guy hang-glided. I went out on my slalom jumper and did half-cab rolls and tantrums and toeside back rolls and heelside back rolls on the ski and back-to-back 3s and shit. Then I went out on a pair of shoe skis and did raleys and hoochie glides and S-bends off the wake and a big-ass, I don’t know, probably like 80-foot raley off the ramp.
Parks: That’s freaking awesome.
Zane: And that was it, man. I didn’t walk real well for like two weeks.
Parks: So you’re the number-two greatest skier in the entire world overall?
Zane: I’m the number two? I ain’t the number two! I won that shit! I ain’t number two!
Parks: I thought Geno Yauchler beat you?
Zane: Geno didn’t beat me! Bitch, you’re trying to start some controversy now! I like it!
Parks: The best freaking skier in the world is Zane Schwenk, and he knows it! Tell us about the process of making the new MasterCraft X-Star.
Zane: You know, it’s kind of cool because we knew the ’03 model was kind of running its course, and what’s really neat is that even though we were in a situation where it’s a really bad economy, these guys knew we had to do something new. We had to do something fresh. The whole process starts with what you want out of the boat and what you want it to do. I see you got another beer, that’s good.
Parks: I did.
Zane: So, it’s like “define what you want out of the boat” and then we started hoisting the boat up in the air and sawing away at it and extending parts and moving the engine around. You know, with the X-Star, it’s our halo product. Everybody looks at it. It’s the pinnacle. If you have an X-Star, that’s the top of your game, you know? You don’t get any better. So we took our time. I just got off the phone with Rusty and he’s riding the lime green boat for the Pro Tour and he said, hands-down, it’s the biggest wake he’s ever hit and it’s perfect. It has the perfect snap at the top, and I agree. And not too often do I want to cut as hard as I can and do big-ass raleys, because I don’t want my kneecaps to go skipping across the water, but, dude, this thing, I got so frickin’ pumped up to go as hard as I could hit that thing and abuse myself. That’s what this wake is. It makes you want to hit it harder and bigger. It’s ridiculous.
Parks: Good thing you’re not hitting double-ups or you might not be on tour for another year.
Zane: What is a double-up? That would be knee number three or four.
Parks: Who’s your favorite pro rider?
Zane: I got to tell you, I like watching Steel Lafferty because the kid has springs for legs and, more importantly, he’s just always happy, and I can’t predict what he’s going to do. It’s pretty sick. My other favorite to watch is Shaun Murray. I love to watch him. It’s like he puts on a show. He makes it entertaining — something is going to happen. He’s either going to break himself off like at the Wake Games or he’s going to make the finals. I really enjoy watching him.
Parks: Agreed. Why don’t you do more pool jams? It’s very entertaining when you do.
Zane: So while hitting a ramp was what I was really good at, apparently hitting a piece of trex is not what I’m good at.
Parks: But you had a hard time before you even got to the trex. Apparently you even had a hard time riding in a pool.
Zane: I don’t like pools.
Parks: I tried to tell you it’s exactly like the water in a lake, but it’s in a pool so you just ride like it’s normal water. But you don’t do that.
Zane: Well, yeah. I don’t know, man. These rail jams, there’s so little time to make a decision. I’m indecisive. I’m superstitious. I can’t figure shit out, man.
Parks: So if there is more than one option you’re screwed?
Zane: Yeah, that’s why I like just the wake better. I cheered one time when the fun box on tour flipped over in the wind. I was like, “Yeah! I hate that thing!”
Parks: You have your pilot’s license, right?
Zane: No, I had my learner’s, and I used to just fly around without a license.
Parks: What are some things in wakeboarding that keep you motivated?
Zane: You know what really keeps me motivated right now is trying to learn some grabs with some late blind 180s. I’m not doing a whole lot of them, but two decades in just now trying this shit, that’s kind of odd.
Parks: That’s good you’re grabbing your board because usually the only time you grab your board is when you take it out of the truck to bring it down to the boat.
Zane: I know, it’s weird. I did make a board with a bunch of handles on it to grab, but it didn’t work. That’s the fun stuff right now and to just do the stuff I’ve been doing all the time. I have been doing some switch special Ks, which is like half of a switch slurpee. I think I can take that back and rewind it to blind, but I’m going to need some healthy knees for a little bit before I try that again.
Parks: Man, I think you lost everyone on the last one, but we’re good. You’ve contributed more than pretty much anyone in the whole sport so far. So what do you want to do in the future?
Zane: Well, I don’t want to stop contributing to the sport. I want to make sure that while the sport is changing and I’m not, it’s good to recognize and embrace all the cool things that are happening with the talent that’s out there now. I want to help with things like the Water Sports Industry Association. We have guys like Larry Meddock who work their tail off and never get recognition for all he’s done to make sure we can still wakeboard on pretty much any waterway out there. I want to work on that end of it to make sure my kids and your kids can still go out there and do that. And I want to keep working with the engineers and doing fun products because there is nothing more exciting and exhilarating. There are few moments in my life when I’ve been so proud as to introduce that X-Star. That was just really cool, you know? Working with the guys at CWB, it’s fun to try to make something new and hear, “Hey, your product helped me learn this or do that.” I want to get more people to stand up on the water. I guess that’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do. I don’t care how you do it, just stand up on the water. It’s amazing.