Words Justine Griffin Photo Rodrigo Donoso
1. How did you become pro? My sister and dad were really into it originally, which is how I got into it. I started out surfing with my sister when we were young kids, and when we moved to Orlando, we had family friends who lived on a lake so we would kneeboard and waterski all the time. Then one day we saw a skurf board at Sports Authority, and really got into it from there.
2. What was your favorite trick when you first turned pro, and what’s your favorite trick now? My favorite when I first turned pro would probably be a toeside frontside nine, which I did on my first season on the pro tour. I won my first pro contest with a toe 9 off the double up. That was kind of my trick for a while, and the reason I was able to win a couple of contests. But now that I’ve been riding for a while, my favorite trick to do is some big double up and try something new. I like inventing new tricks and working on new stuff.
3. Who is your favorite rider and why? My all time favorite rider would have to be Scott Byerly, just because he’s done so much for the sport. He was the rider I originally looked up to when I first started. But being good friends with Parks Bonifay and Shane definitely helped push my wakeboarding too. That whole crew back in the early 2000’s really inspired me.
4. What is the hardest thing about being a professional wakeboarder? The injuries. I’ve had a bad run of luck over the years. I started riding when I was 10, and I’ve been doing it for 14 years now, so I’ve had my fair share of injuries. Right now I’m just trying to avoid any getting hurt, and trying to keep pushing forward.
5. What would you be doing if you weren’t a pro wakeboarder? Probably the same thing I’m doing right now, aspiring to be a pro golfer. But if I weren’t riding, I’d probably be working in a pro shop somewhere.
6. What is your biggest goal to accomplish this year? This year I’m just really trying to stay healthy and fit. I’ve had some nagging back injuries that I’m currently dealing with. I’m just looking forward to being able to feel good and ride to my full potential.
7. What are you most proud of in your career so far? A couple of video sections I’ve been in, and some of the tricks that I’ve been a part of inventing, or the inventor of. I think I’m most proud of the progression I’ve helped to accomplish in wakeboarding.
8. What’s one thing you couldn’t live without on a daily basis? Water.
9. Any pets? I have a two-year-old yellow lab named Buddy.
10. Who are your sponsors? Ronix, Nautique, Fox, Monster Energy, Spy, Reef, Billabong Wetsuits and Performance Ski & Surf.
11. So you landed a 1260. How do you think that changed wakeboarding? People always ask me, “Do you think you’ve done everything you can do on a wakeboard?” And with wakeskating growing so fast, people tend to doubt the direction of wakeboarding. Landing the 1260 proves that there’s still more to be done. People will go above and beyond that, and as boats continue to become bigger and better, the sport will just keep growing. There will always be something new to do. I’m just trying to keep it fresh. Anytime you land something new, you get that adrenaline rush. That inspires me to keep pushing it and make it happen.
12. What are your plans for professional wakeboarding’s future? I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I really enjoy being out riding on the boat and going to contests. I want to keep riding well, stay competitive, and keep filming solid videos.
13. You always have mind-blowing video sections, what should we expect for your part in Out of the Pond? Out of the Pond is definitely a unique movie. We weren’t trying to film the average wakeboard video. We were thinking out of the box, and we came up with some really unique stuff. It’s going to be very entertaining from every aspect — from the crashes to the scenic stuff. We rode at so many different places — spillways, big gaps, cable parks, boat riding — it was a good mix of everything. We even wall rode a bus. It’s definitely one of the coolest videos that I’ve ever been a part of.
14. Any new tricks we should know about? Can they sneak into your Tour run? I’ve got a kind of new variation of wrapped tricks. I’ve been working on some wrapped, grabbed spins, and also some classic D Harf maneuvers.
15. Do you have the tricks to beat Phil Soven on his best day? I feel that on my best day I can take him out. I definitely have the tricks, I’m just hoping that with the little bit of water time I’ve had lately because of injuries, that I’ll be able to get back out there with enough time to get consistent. That’s why Soven’s so tough to beat. He’s very consistent and keeps his stuff together. I can definitely ride that level, it’s just a matter of doing it run after run. I just need to work on getting my confidence back, and get back out on the water after just sitting from so many seasons out.
16. How many Tour stops do you think you’ll hit this year? Well hopefully if I’m healthy I’ll do all of the King of Wake series, some of the World Series, and maybe the World Cup. Just a little bit of everything.
17. What’s it like being a part owner of Ronix? It’s really cool. It’s awesome working with Parks Bonifay, Chad Sharpe and Emily Copeland-Durham, who are all part owners too. It’s awesome to be a part of the brand, and just see how successful it’s been.
18. What’s going to be your money-maker trick for double-ups on Tour this year? I definitely have a couple of different tricks. It all just depends on the situation. I’ve been working on a toeside backside seven with a late nose grab, a wrapped backside seven, a 1080, and maybe even another 1260 attempt. You never really know. It all just depends on the situation and what I’m feeling at the time.
19. Where do you get your inspiration for wakeboarding? From surfing and snowboarding.
20. What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in your entire wakeboarding career? Landing the 1260 was pretty big, but winning the gold at the X Games three out of four years in a row was definitely one of my biggest accomplishments. That whole experience was pretty memorable.