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.