While Americans were suffering through the off-season blues, Daniel Watkins was charging it during the summer months in his homeland, Australia. His hard work is now paying off, starting with a victory at the Asian X Games and a current fourth-place ranking on the Pro Tour after the first two events. (click image to enlarge...)
Daniel is gifted with the ability to ride well in contests. He pulled some tall moves at the season opener in Fort Lauderdale including a Pete Rose, crow mobe, off-axis 5, S-bend and a whirlybird. His run was highlighted by a bold combo move: a Raley straight into a big spin off the launch ramp. I don't think the on-site paramedics found it too amusing, but the rest of the crowd sure did. Daniel said, Yeah, I scared the hell out of myself. I had no idea if I was going to hit the water before the ramp or hit the ramp on the full. It was fun. I don't think I will be getting that close again. Maybe I will?
I wanted to see what goes on in his daily underworld, so I cruised over to his lakefront pad in Orlando to ride and hang out. Daniel and his roommate/O'Brien teammate, Josh Sanders, had just built a 20-foot flatbar slider requiring a good waist-high ollie. The boat they were using was a frickin' hoopty but pumped the fattest wake on this side of the Mississippi. The stage was set, and it wasn't long before a spectacle of prime-time wakeboarding was in session. Daniel's courageous free-riding consisted of some sick moves such as a frontside 720 (landing blind) and a huge double back roll.
He was stoked because their house just got stockpiled with groceries. Daniel said, I don't think I'm going to go anywhere for a week! Well, an exception was made that night as we ventured over to a particularly seedy dog track to place some wagers. Daniel cashed in big, betting on the winning dog three races in a row. With Daniel's pocket full of fun tickets, we then slid enthusiastically over to Roxy, one of Orlando's most exclusive clubs. I think it's more of a conducive club. Conducive to drinking, that is. It continued to be one of those nights where everything goes your way. This came clear to me as we got bumped to the front of the endless line at the door and were allowed to break the dress code by sporting our skate shoes (yeah, like anyone really notices your shoes in a club). Anyway, if you've ever partied with an Aussie - you can imagine the rest of the story. Somewhere in the mix, I managed to conjure up an interview.