Usually, the warning light goes on when someone tells you a girl has a “nice personality.” Well, I’m here to tell you – Marie Botved has a nice personality. Turn off the alarm; she’s also got a pretty face and great body to go with it. Not to mention that she’s one of the more explosive female wakeboarders around and a tough competitor. Which is cool if you’re into those kinds of things.
I am. So a few weeks ago, I found myself cruising down the Florida Turnpike to West Palm Beach – Florida’s other haven of professional wakeboarders – to find out more about her. I had seen her ride at the Worlds in Dallas last fall and was intrigued by her demeanor both on and off the water. It seemed apparent in Dallas that whether she intended to or not, Marie was making a simple statement: You cannot ignore me or my riding. Which nobody did, save for her close friend and wakeboarding partner, Tara Hamilton, who was the only rider to beat Botved in the Worlds finals. By the end of the weekend, though, one thing was abundantly clear. This 28-year-old (who also happens to have a master’s degree in business administration) is for real on a wakeboard.
Of course, it’s sometimes easy to get distracted from that reality because of Botved’s striking Nordic features. Blond, blue-eyed and more athletic-looking than half the stick-figured guys on the Pro Tour, she paints a pretty stunning picture atop her recently acquired Neptune board. And when she showed me her modeling portfolio (see picture at left) over pistachios and a Becks at her apartment, I was outright blown away. But after watching a few passes down Okeeheelee’s back lake, where Marie rides every day, you forget about all that stuff. Your eyes are drawn instead to the huge inverted moves and fashionable grabbed 360s she does so easily. She’s one of the few girls I know working on blind 3s and plans to get a frontside 5 dialed for this year’s tour season. I watched her ride for two days and came to the conclusion that Marie will definitely win a tour event this year – maybe even vie for the title. And if she doesn’t, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of people in line to console her.
As for the personality, well, you be the judge. The following excerpts are from a conversation we had over those two days that kept getting interrupted by photo shoots, dinners, a little partying with her buddy Jeff Heer, and a particularly unsavory incident at a local sushi bar. I’m always amazed that professional wakeboarders put up with a pesky magazine editor asking them a bunch of transparently deep (read: stupid) questions, but Marie was gracious and quotable and had some interesting things to say about a Dane’s life as a professional wakeboarder.
On her job:
“I love it; that’s why I’m doing it. It’s certainly not for the money. I enjoy every day of doing this job because I know it’s not going to be forever. The day I don’t like it anymore, I’ll stop; no hesitation at all. Really, everything I’ve done up to this point in my life is because I’ve enjoyed doing it, which is a nice way to be.”
On her former life as a
“It’s funny, because I was at the peak of my career as a skier. I was doing really well in competitions, and the people couldn’t understand why I wanted to stop. Like one day they’re going, ‘Oh, what are you doing?’ And I just said, ‘I’m going wakeboarding.’ I like the spirit of wakeboarding better. It’s fun and not too serious. Skiing was like, ‘You’ve got to do two sets of slalom and you’ve got to do a set of tricks and then get ready to jump. Go to bed at eight. Don’t eat this and don’t eat that.’ With wakeboarding, people were laughing and having fun. I’ve always liked living life more, you know, having a good drink, talking and hanging out.”
On her dog, Michelob, who’s never far away:
“Do you think the tour hotels will allow him in this year?”
On her two-legged friends:
“When you live a life like we do (professional wakeboarders), it’s hard to maintain friendships. Tara and I started as training partners, but now we’ve become friends. We’re very different, and there’s 11 years between us, but we’ve just clicked really well, and I like hanging out with her.”
On being known in her
“Yeah, actually, I am a little known because when I stopped skiing, Team Denmark dropped my sponsorship. They just stopped giving me money to travel and stuff, even though I wanted to compete and wakeboard. I had a whole bureaucracy in front of me, and people heard about it. So I got a lot of publicity from it. I had a 10-minute interview on national TV, so it was a pretty big deal.”
On the growing feud between skiers and wakeboarders at Okeeheelee:
“The wakeboarders, you sense they are having fun about what they’re doing. It’s the skiers who are really not taking it that well. They’re the ones who are aggravating themselves everyday. There’s a lot of jealousy there. I think it’s just the fact that wakeboarding is a young sport and they don’t like all the publicity it’s gotten. They want to know how someone like me can just turn and start wakeboarding one day. But I see those guys, and they’re like training and training. I mean, I quit two years ago, and they’re still at the same level, maybe a half a buoy farther. And God, there’s so many things you can do on a wakeboard. I don’t miss three-event skiing because there’s a lot of that in wakeboarding. You’ve got some speed, like slalom, you’ve got the spins, the tricks in there, and then you’ve got the adrenaline of jumping; you try and go as high as you can. So you get everything I was seeking in that sport. It’s just better on a wakeboard.
On the weird-looking, weird-tasting stuff she’s constantly eating out of a jar:
“It’s Danish licorice. I love this stuff! I have friends send it to me from home.”
On my really poor knowledge of European geography:
“I actually lived in Denmark – where we speak Danish, not Dutch, Tony – until I was 7. Then I moved to Paris for a long time. I speak French, also.”
On what she thinks people see in her:
“Sometimes I guess people think I’m snobby, but I’m really just shy. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think it’s
really important just to be yourself. Don’t try to imitate other people. You can inspire yourself with other people;
On our magazine:
“Don’t forget about the older people. Wakeboarding is not just 14- or 15-year-olds with blood in their teeth. I’m 28, and there’s a lot of us out here really having fun and trying to do this the best that we can.”
And finally, on her “type”:
“You mean physics? I guess I’ve always been drawn to darker features. Dark hair and dark eyes. But that only lasts so long. It really matters on what kind of person you are; that’s what is ultimately important.”