When the King of Wake kicks off the 2011 season, the sport’s most dynamic and explosive riders will tear up the water of eight major cities in effort to capture wakeboarding’s most prestigious crown. But it’s the job of Chief Judge Chris Bischoff to oversee the scoring of every rider and determine a winner. We sat down with the Chief himself to discuss the upcoming season and more.
How did you get involved with wakeboarding? A friend of mine from North Carolina, Mike Weddington, wanted to move down to Florida to pursue a pro wakeboard career and I decided to move down with him. It was during the beginning of wakeboarding in the 90s, and I started riding more and more until I turned pro.
How has the sport evolved since you started riding? The diversity of riding has progressed immensely. It’s killer to watch the riders push the limits on rails and off the wake each year. I never would have imagined 16 years ago that the sport would have developed to this level and I don’t think it’s done yet. Also it’s awesome to see the amount of sponsors getting involved. From clothing to energy drinks to major retailers, like Overton’s, there are just so many companies now either sponsoring athletes or events.
How did the King of Wake start? World Sports and Marketing was producing the most credible events that attracted the top riders from around the world, but they weren’t all tied together into one series. We decided to put them all under one umbrella to see who could win in a large series format. We wanted to see who could be the king of wakeboarding and felt like a king needed to be crowned.
What’s the toughest part about being Chief Judge? The toughest part is that judging is all subjective. There is no predetermined point value for a maneuver, so the outcome of an event falls entirely onto the judges’ shoulders. We work hand in hand with the riders to develop criteria based on how they want to be judged. The hardest part is translating their thoughts and ideas to the judges so the riding is scored the way they want. We have such a killer group of athletes who compete at our events and making the call of who out performs who is really tough sometimes. I am fortunate to have a great crew of judges. Brian Grubb, Ryan Wolfe, Kevin Michael, Rob Corum, Jimmy Trask and Shawn Perry are the best in the business. And I can’t forget Boat Driver #1 Travis Moye and Boat Driver #2 Kyle Rattray. Without these guys, we wouldn’t have a tour!
What can King of Wake fans expect this season? The sport is always progressing, and the King of Wake tries to adjust and grow with the sport. We try to be innovative with our format and judging, and fans can expect to see a few new things this season. We are still testing out a few ideas, but if nothing else, we will still have the best riding in the world and we also have a killer schedule this season with some awesome new venues.
Where are you looking forward to going the most this season? We have a great schedule this year, but I am definitely looking forward to going to Monroe the most. Lake Tye is an unreal lake and the Seattle area is the Mecca of wakeboard manufacturing. It’s basically where wakeboarding began and the Northwest has a ton of good riders!
Which rookie will make the biggest impact this season? There are a couple of guys like Steel , Nick and Raph , but who knows for sure. It will be interesting to see how the rookies go against the big boys. There’s a steep learning curve for rookies. It’s a whole new level of pressure and it will take a while for them to get used to it.