Words Jennifer Ross Photo Rodrigo Donoso
1. How did you become pro? I became pro within my first year of riding. I caught on really fast since I transitioned from gymnastics to wakeboarding and I had great air awareness. When I met my coach, Mike Ferraro, it all took off from there.
2. What was your favorite trick when you first turned pro, and what’s your favorite now? My favorite trick when I first turned pro was front rolls because they taught me to just rip into the wake full-speed and it was my biggest trick. My favorite trick right now is a method toeside 360.
3. Who is your favorite rider and why? Danny Harf. Not only is he an incredible athlete, he’s always pushing our sport in every aspect. He’s a three-time X-Games gold medalist, he landed the 1080, and now the 1260, and he wins the readers’ poll year after year. Even if Danny doesn’t ride in any competitions all year he’s still featured in magazines and is the fans’ number one pick. He’s just such a positive, down-to-earth guy. You can tell he does it all for the love and fun of it and that’s inspiring to watch.
4. What is the hardest thing about being a professional wakeboarder? Dealing with injuries and recovering from them. It’s frustrating and no fun for any athlete. It really tests your determination and shows you how bad you want something.
5. What would you be doing if you weren’t a pro wakeboarder? Who knows? I’d probably still be living with my parents, causing trouble.
6. What is your biggest goal to accomplish this year? To stay strong and healthy and keep a positive attitude. And most importantly, to have fun all year.
7. What are you most proud of in your career so far? Probably either my three-peat at the X-Games or winning the ESPN ESPY award in 2004 for Best Female Action Sport Athlete.
8. What’s one thing you couldn’t live without on a daily basis? Hair ties. It’s too hot in Florida to wear your hair down.
9. Any pets? I have a golden retriever mix named Bear and the Chew Monster, Chewbacca, my Pomeranian.
11. You set a good example for the ladies by going big. How different is it to take a trick out into the flats versus wake-to-wake? It’s all in your style. In gymnastics I was always the best at floor exercises. My coaches told me I was “powerful.” I’ve just always gone full throttle with everything and never held back and I try to do the same thing with wakeboarding. It’s funny, some tricks I seriously can’t do wake-to-wake, and if I try it just looks awkward and wrong, but I’ve learned to just go for it anyways.
12. What do you have planned for the Pro Tour this year? To work hard and do my best, first of all. I also want to have more sponsor appearances, go on a world tour, do some photo shoots, clinics, demos and video shoots. I plan to compete in all the stops girls are at and hope to have my best year yet.
13. Anything new we should be expecting in your competition run? I’ve been working hard at The Projects to progress my rail riding. It’s been getting a lot smoother and I’m doing it more and more in every contest. I have a few other things up my sleeve, but you’ll just have to wait and watch for those.
14. You’ve trained a lot with some of the best coaches in the business, what’s the number one thing you’ve taken away from your experiences? To never put limitations on your riding and to always have an open mind. You don’t know if you can until you try. You’ll be surprised at how much better your riding will progress if you have an open mind and give it your all.
15. How important is style in a Pro Tour run? Pretty important, especially because of the format and the way things are judged. You pretty much have to hit every category to do well, which has been good for me in a lot of ways. It’s forced me to do things I don’t like to do or wasn’t very good at, like rails.
Now I can hit rails and feel comfortable. And they really help me place higher in the finals. The style also helps you become your own rider as you feel out what works for you and go off of that. I like to think my style is big and floaty.
16. What’s one trick that’s always given you trouble? The whirlybird. I swear I land it more than I fall on it when in practice, but in competitions I can’t seem to pull it all together. Especially since my femur broke in 2006. I’ll get it soon though. I’ve been working on a more consistent take-off.
17. You do well at just about every contest, what makes you such a strong competitor? Being confident at competitions. I always stand on the dock when I’m about to go and tell myself, “You got this. Just like practice. Let’s do this and show them.” So I keep it positive and never second-guess a trick. I just focus on one trick at a time and do it like I know I’m going to land it.
18. Who’s your biggest role model? Well, I can’t name someone specifically, really, but anyone who pushes their sport to new levels and is always setting goals for themselves. Making the impossible become their desire and turn to the possible.
19. Any video sections coming up? Nope, but I’m shooting lots of riding photos for magazines. And I’ve recently gotten some sponsors for new gear for 2009.
20. What’s your middle name? Thursday. Just kidding. That would be funny though. It’s Jacqueline.