Dana Preble

You don't know Dana Preble. I thought I did, after all she's lived her life in the the wakeboarding spotlight for the past seven years. But it wasn't until I moved in up the street from her recently that I found out who she was. Always smiling, always upbeat, even motivational at times - that's the Dana we've seen traveling the Pro Tour since 1994. But behind the bubbly exterior, the giddy laughter and all the crazy "shenanigans" (her favorite word) lies a deeper calm, an inner confidence that comes from spending most of this decade devoting herself to one thing - riding a wakeboard as best she can. Yes, Dana is a perennial tour contender. Yes, she thinks about wakeboarding in the competitive sense. No, she does not "train" like a slalom skier. In fact, she rides mostly with non-professionals, other girls, and even her new neighbor from time to time. All of that was in jeopardy last January when she was released by her longtime board sponsor, Blindside, and left to consider getting a "real job" after years of doing what she loved. But O'Brien saw the potential of adding one of the world's most talented female riders to their roster, and ensured we'd be seeing her on tour for at least two more years.
Of all the many things that I have gotten to know about Dana Preble, there is one that's hard to look past: She loves wakeboarding. Dana's never had a chance to talk about that passion in this magazine, so we got together at our neighborhood pizza joint to have a chat about wakeboarding the way she sees it.

You've got some good stories about the beginning of this sport don't you? When was the first time you got on a wakeboard?
First time ever, hmmm. I gotta think about that one. It was about midnight on Lake Virginia. We snuck out and took the Rollins ski boat out ... illegally. It was me, Russell Gay and a bunch of people on the Rollins ski team. Russell had his wakeboard, the Hyperlite Pro, and I was like, "Yeah, I'll give it a whirl." That was about seven years ago, I think. Then I ended up moving to Russell's house one summer, and we just wakeboarded all the time, so I thought maybe I'd try to challenge the guys on tour. I was doing a couple of inverts and a 360 at the time.

Who else was out there?
Gator was always around Russell's house. He was in high school, and he was always in trouble and his principal would always call and be like, "Gator's supposed to be in detention right now." So we'd cover for him and bail him out. But he would do crazy stuff. He would get in my car, which was my grandmother's Delta 88, and would do neutral drops and e-brake 3s, and I wasn't even in the car! He drove it home on three wheels one night. You haven't heard about this? Oh my God. Gator came out there about a week after they drove it home on three wheels and he was like, "Can I borrow your car to go home?" Well, he brought it back without any brakes; supposedly the brakes went out and he went flying through the orange grove. Yeah, right! He was just ragging on my car!
Gator was hysterical on the water, though. He would just go for it; whatever you'd tell him to try, he'd try. We'd all just pile in the boat so the wakes were big because there weren't any Fat Sacs back then. He'd do anything - Raleys, front flips, whatever. That's when no one was doing any of this stuff. Like Darin and Russell would do a Raley, and that was their big thing.

So out of all these years, who's made the biggest impression on you from their riding?
A lot of people. That's funny, though, because at first whenever I saw anybody doing anything, I was really impressed. Russell Gay was always the guy that I remember going huge at first, and then I w Darin. So I figured that was how you did it, just go flying at the wake and go huge. But I remember at one point I sat in the boat and watched Jeremy Kovak ride, and I couldn't believe it. It was in, like, 1995. He was doing everything so good.
Now you sit in the boat all the time and everyone's so good that you have to pick out one thing that they do that you really like. I love 7s off the double-up. It's my favorite thing to watch.

Do you ever think you'll do one?
Oh yeah, definitely, next year, after the tour season's over, I'm going to start trying them. Heelside off the double-up. I don't know why that way, but it just seems right.

Would you ever just try one in a contest?
Not right now because I'd probably fall. I can do three different 5s, but I'll have to work on the seven.
But does it ever occur to you to do moves on tour that you think you might not make just for the sake of "raising the bar" among the women riders?
Oh yeah, in the past I've always done that. But I'll either fall or, if I do land it, everyone's like, "Oh yeah, that's good, whatever." But then the other girls go out there and land the same tricks they've been doing and they still win, even though I tried a new trick. It's so frustrating for me because I want to do bigger tricks and harder tricks, but then if they're not perfect or totally clean, or if I fall, then it's done; there's no way I can win. I could go out and do the tricks I've done forever and get a better score than if I try something new and butt-check it. That's how it's been.

Is there some judging prejudice against you?
Last year, maybe. At a few different tournaments, even Tara and her mom and other people were like, "I have no idea why you didn't win."

What about the beginning of this year when you didn't have a board sponsor? Were you thinking that you were finally going to have to give up all the fun and get a real job?
The thought crossed my mind. If I didn't have a board sponsor I couldn't afford to go all over the country and compete. MasterCraft is a great sponsor, but they're still not going to be able send me all over the world to do the tour. So if I didn't get another sponsor, I would probably have had to think about getting a serious job this year, and it wouldn't have given me time to compete.

Do you feel under-appreciated sometimes?
Not really. I don't wakeboard for anyone but me and my sponsors. They've backed me unconditionally. But I hate wakeboarding in a situation where I don't want to be. I don't really like to "train," at least with any tour riders. I just like to go out and ride all day, as much as I can.

Do you think you can do more moves than any girl out there?
Yeah, probably. Not in competition all the time, but in terms of the ones I've landed before, probably. There are definitely girls that can do moves I can't - Christy Smith's mobes and some others - but overall moves, I've done a lot of them. Tara can do a lot, too.

Name 20 moves that you can do.
Wrapped KGB, krypt, I've done a switch krypt, switch toeside 5, switch crow, Raley, toeside 5, heelside 5, scarecrow, front roll, front flip, back roll, toeside back roll, toeside roll to revert, half-cab roll, tantrum, tantrum to fakie, tantrum to blind (once!), switch roll, and then a lot of the 360s and 180s.

What's next?
I think I could do a back roll to blind, either the handle-pass version or the toeside wrapped version. Or maybe a whirly bird. I've tried a few of those.

Do people misinterpret your attitude? Are you ever really serious?
Of course I want to win. But I'm not going to have a bad attitude or show that I have bad feelings toward anyone. I can go home and do that, but I'm not going to do it in public ... I think I can be a little more tactful. I don't want to take out my personal problems on everyone else. You know what I'm saying?

What do you want people to remember you for?
I've never really set out to have people look at me a certain way. Like, this is what I want to be remembered as, or this is what people are

going to think about me. I'm just doing what I want to for the most part. At the start of this game, they wouldn't let me and Andrea compete in our own division. We had to ride against the guys and fight to get anything done to recognize us separately. Now they have whole women's divisions, and all the girls can compete against each other. I guess maybe I had a little to do with that, which is cool.

I180s.

What's next?
I think I could do a back roll to blind, either the handle-pass version or the toeside wrapped version. Or maybe a whirly bird. I've tried a few of those.

Do people misinterpret your attitude? Are you ever really serious?
Of course I want to win. But I'm not going to have a bad attitude or show that I have bad feelings toward anyone. I can go home and do that, but I'm not going to do it in public ... I think I can be a little more tactful. I don't want to take out my personal problems on everyone else. You know what I'm saying?

What do you want people to remember you for?
I've never really set out to have people look at me a certain way. Like, this is what I want to be remembered as, or this is what people are going to think about me. I'm just doing what I want to for the most part. At the start of this game, they wouldn't let me and Andrea compete in our own division. We had to ride against the guys and fight to get anything done to recognize us separately. Now they have whole women's divisions, and all the girls can compete against each other. I guess maybe I had a little to do with that, which is cool.

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