The Interview: Dallas Friday

On Aug. 20, Dallas Friday capped her best season since 2006 with the Best Womens Rider award at WAKEBOARDING magazine's sixth-annual Wake Awards in Orlando. Along with the 2009 Queen of Wake title, the award marks Friday's return to the top of women's wakeboarding. We chatted with Dallas recently about winning her second Wake Award and her long road back. — Megan Anderson

You've won a lot of awards over the course of your career. How does the Best Wakeboarder Wake Award stack up? This year actually meant a tremendous amount to me, and it was actually very heart touching for me. I've won it before, but that was right before my accident, which kept me out of the running for a year due to injuries. I think it just kind of closes the book on the old Dallas Friday and the injury, recovery, rehab, and all the questions. "Is she going to get through that?" "Is she going to get back on top of her game and still progress?" I felt like winning the award pretty much was the answer. To me, at least, it felt like "OK, nothing can stop me." I now see myself accomplishing so much more, and that award really touched my heart and helped me realize that turning 23 doesn't mean anything. I have many more years to come.

Put yourself in the shoes of the Wake Awards voting panel. Which of your accomplishments over the last 365 days do you think played the biggest part in you winning Best Womens Rider? Well, start at Wake Games, the first competition of the year. I won at Wake Games, but finished third at the next contest. When I got that third, it was like a wake up call. Seize the opportunity now and turn things around, or the rest of the year is just going to be trying to get by. My coach Mike Ferraro and I came up with a game plan. It was three weeks for turnaround, and we came up with what I was going to do each day and what I needed to do to know that I could go out and fall and still do well in the competition. It was just getting my confidence level back up and that's when everything just switched gears. It wasn't even training for me. It was just fun and just progressing and a whole new view of riding unloaded. I never said early this season that I wanted to learn an S-bend. It just never crossed my mind that that would be a goal this year. But doing the System 2.0 at The Projects and working with Matt Hickman, opened up my eyes. I started progressing in things that I wasn't so good at, like cable and sliders. So I just pushed myself to excel in those and I found myself learning the transfer. Now I'm the only girl to do Switch 270s transfers. It's just cool to see how putting work in on each little category not only made me better at that part of my riding, but also opened up new windows. Like learning an S-bend on the cable and then it crossed my mind to try it behind the boat. I really worked hard — going to the cable every day and then I'd go to McCormick's as well. But as far as the judges looking, I think that when I had that turning point and decided "OK, this could be the end or this could be the beginning," and I can flip the quarter and start heading the other way. I took that and had fun with it and learned new things and progressed my riding and pushed the envelope. I didn't just push it; I was always throwing it down, being confident and putting it all on the line. I think the judges acknowledged that and saw that in each competition after that third place in Texas that I stayed at a steady number one spot.

Have you found a spot for your Wake Award yet? Yeah. It is in my kitchen next to my Espy and Arby's Action Sports Award. I keep the ones that are really important on my kitchen counter, and the competition trophies I keep above the fridge. There are only like four that are on the lower level, compared to like 60 of the others. It just shows that it meant a lot.

How stoked were you to find out that the Wake Awards added a Women's Move of the Year for 2009? I was really pumped. I just wish I would have found out earlier. I'm already thinking about things for next year and I'm super stoked about that. I think it's great, and I think that's something that will really push the women and let riders be acknowledged for our progression. It keeps you motivated and keeps you very open-minded about what you're capable of.

Your S-bend was up for Move of the Year this year. What trick or tricks would you like to get in that category next year? That's top secret. Maybe next year you can ask me, but not this early on.

In a previous interview with us, you said that you worked harder than ever to get back on top this year. Now that you've won Queen of Wake and the Best Womens Rider Wake Award are you going to take some time off? Not really. This is kind of the time to learn new tricks and progress my riding. I can take the hard falls, because it's not the middle of the season and I don't have to worry about being held back from competing. Right now is the time before it gets cold. I'm just going to keep training and working on new things and trying to get consistent. I'm sure the really cold days are when I'll be taking a week off. But as far as vacation, the vacation is being at home. I travel so much all year round, there's no where I'd really want to go except being at home and spending some time with my family.

In your opinion, how important are the Wake Awards to the sport of wakeboarding? I think it's pretty important. I think the Wake Awards are what keeps the sport growing and progressing. It's something that gets everyone amped up, and it's a chance for everyone to show their spot in the sport. It's things like the Wake Awards that push Danny Harf to do the 1260, and I think it's these types of things that keep the industry and the riders motivated and creative and push the sport. It's also a chance for us to thank the fans and give back to the people who have put us where we are at and have stayed loyal to us over the years. That's what I try to do: make the most out of giving thanks to all the people that have been by my side all the way.****

Photo: Rodrigo Donoso