words craig kotilinek photo rodrigo donoso
Rusty Malinoski. Wakeboarding’s working man. Trudging out to the coalmines (the buttery lake) to take eight-hour-long, Rockstar-fueled sets, stopping only to switch out boards as he tears through them. Not really. It would be easy to write this tattooed Canadian contender off as a four-set-a-day wakeboarding machine with a mind only for competition, but Malinoski’s much more than that. First off, there’s a genuine jokester in the man, as well as plenty of passion and ambition for things beyond the wake. We had a bit of fun with this interview, so if you think he’s joking, he probably is. Except for the part about taking four sets a day, that part’s real. Find out more here.
1. How did you become pro? I won the Canadian Wakeboard Lottery. In Canada we have the Pro Wakeboarder Lottery, and I bought a ticket and I got lucky. That was all there was to it. They say if you lived ten lifetimes over you’d get it once; I just bought a two-dollar ticket.
2. What was your favorite trick when you first turned pro, and what’s your favorite now? There wasn’t a certain trick that was my favorite. As your progressing so fast at the beginning, you keep looking forward to the next trick because you’re learning so fast. My favorite thing now is hitting double-ups. At this point in my career, hitting double-ups is what I have the most fun doing.
3. Who is your favorite rider and why? Kevin Micheal. He reminds me of before I was a pro, straight pumped on every chance he gets to ride, doesn’t ever get frustrated and truly loves being out there. It brings me back to before I was a pro wakeboarder.
4. What is the hardest thing about being a professional wakeboarder? Trying to stay healthy. Everyone goes through stages where you have nagging injuries and it’s hard to try to stay healthy and ride consistently year-round.
5. What would you be doing if you weren’t a pro wakeboarder? I’d probably be Kevin Micheal’s assistant. No, I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t be in America, and I’d be in Canada, probably working with my dad or something. Probably doing something like construction.
6. What is your biggest goal to accomplish this year? My biggest goals are just to stay healthy and be consistent.
7. What are you most proud of in your career so far? Wakeboarder of the year two years in a row; you can’t really beat that.
8. Yeah, why do people love you so much? I suck you in with my green eyes. I don’t know, I guess I just work hard and have a lot of passion and love for the sport and people see that. I don’t know.
9. What’s one thing you couldn’t live without on a daily basis? My family.
10. Any pets? Quentin and Vincent. Two dogs.
11. Who are your sponsors? Rockstar, MasterCraft, Hyperlite, Fox, Body Glove, Performance, Ogio, Rockwell, and Kicker.
12. You’ve got one King of Wake win under your belt, what are your goals for the contest year? One win’s good enough for me, so I’m probably just going to sit back and coast. I probably won’t go to any more events.
13. What side of Rusty Malinoski do people not get to know through most videos and interviews? I like to mess around and 95% of the time I’m having a good time. Shenanigans.
14. What’s that most recent trick you’ve learned? Different variations to a backside 180 into the flats. The most recent trick I’ve landed, I guess, would be the backside 900 last year.
15. Has your son wakeboarded yet? No. This summeer, or when it warms up a little more.
16. What’s the biggest influence on your riding? I wakeboard for me and because I love it. There’s not a certain something or someone that influences me to wakeboard. I just love to wakeboard and that’s why I take three sets a day or whatever, but obviously I feel I need to ride to stay on and to get better. I guess that’s motivation: just trying to always get better.
17. What’s your connection to the MMA world? Not enough connection. I wish I had way better connections. I know a few guys, but I would like to get front-row seats to all the events and go backstage to talk to all the boys. You’ll hear more about that in the new issue.
18. How many sets did you take yesterday? What day was it yesterday? Thursday? Four sets.
19. Who is the most promising rider under 21 and why? Jimmy . He’s young but he’s got a lot of good people surrounding him. He’s got a good surrounding that’s going to keep him really focused and positive.
20. What do you think will be your legacy in this sport? I feel like I put my heart and soul into this sport every day, and I guess when I’m done I hope people remember me for being a really hard worker and really motivated and always riding hard and getting after it. Never being late and staying mostly positive.
21. What’s your middle name? Leonidas. Rusty Leonidas Malinoski.
22. Did you make that up? Yes.