The Interview: Phillip Soven

Last time we heard from Phillip Soven, he was already looking ahead to 2010. He had endured his worst start to a contest season in years, having ridden in just one final through the first five events of the King of Wake series. With just three events to go, things looked grim for the two-time defending King of Wake. That all changed at the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour stop in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where Soven bested a finals crowd that included Aaron Rathy and Harley Clifford. The win resurrected Soven's bid for an unprecedented King of Wake three-peat, moving him into second place behind Rathy in the chase for the King of Wake crown. — Kari Wilberg

Your win at the Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Pro Wakeboard Tour stop was your first podium finish of the season. Why do you think you have struggled a little bit this season? The past two years, winning so many contests, it kind of made me slack off in my training a little bit. So when I realized it was definitely taking a toll I turned it all around and just put my training into full gear. It definitely paid off.

How did you put things together for that event? For this contest, it was really just a good solid couple weeks of hard training and going into it with confidence. My riding is back up to par, so it was just about being consistent and putting everything together in the right places and just trying to be solid on the water.

At this stop, you had a semifinal heat with Harley Clifford, Rusty Malinoski, Jimmy LaRiche and Chad Sharpe and a finals heat against Aaron Rathy, Harley and Dean Smith. Those are a pretty rough couple of rounds. Is this the highest level of competition you've faced? The semifinals round was probably the craziest heat there has been for a semifinals in the last three to five years, without a doubt. Everyone absolutely killed it, and then in the finals, everyone rode really well there, too. It just seems like everyone this year has stepped up their game and everyone is on point, and you can't afford to make one little mistake. The past couple of years, I mean Rusty has always been riding awesome, but this year, everyone else has also stepped up their game. Everything is such a tight race that if you aren't perfect every single time you're not going to win because somebody else is going to be perfect.

Even though you haven't had your typically dominant year, you're still in a very good position to win your third consecutive King of Wake title. What do you need to do in those last two events to win it again? After this contest, I've moved up to second place and only five points out of first, so these next two contests I'm going to take real seriously and get my head in the game. As long as I come out on top of Rathy in the next two contests, I should be able to take it over, but Rathy is a good friend of mine. I'm riding with him at home. He's my old roommate, so I know what he has in his bag of tricks and it's not going to be that easy to do. But you know I'm up for a challenge. Whoever wins it - it's going to be cool.

Your brother Bob has been killing it in the Jr. Mens divsion. Did you expect him to do as well as he has? In the off-season and the end of last year, Robert really excelled his riding abilities and he's learned a lot of new tricks. His contest riding has just stepped up to another level. Coming into the year, I really didn't know how he was going to do, but after that first contest, he really showed that he's grown up and he has learned what he needs to do and he's a good competitive rider. We'll see if he can pull of an undefeated Jr. Mens season.