First Time in the Readers Poll Top 10

Wonder what it’s like to be one of the most popular ­riders in the world? It’s one thing for an ­influential few to decide to print your picture on the ­cover of a magazine, but it’s a ­different thing altogether when the ­collective voice of the people says you’re the bee’s knees. Hear it firsthand from a few riders who had a memorable debut into the ­Readers Poll Top 10.

wakeboarding magazine cover
Steel Lafferty on the cover of the September 2013 issueChris Garrison

Steel Lafferty

2013, 5th Place

Personally, I think the Readers Poll is bigger than any contest we compete in all year. ­Doing well in a contest just says that you have been riding well and on that particular day you rode better than every other rider. The Readers Poll is much different because it comes directly from the fans. I’ve dreamed of being in the top 10 ever since I heard of it.

The first time I made it into the Readers Poll, I actually scored the cover of Wakeboarding as well. It was probably one of my best months in Wakeboarding. I ended up getting fifth place in my first Readers Poll and the best cover I’ve ever had in my life!

You can do hard tricks and win contests, but if the fans don’t like you, then there’s no real point. I think sports are all about the fans, and to have landed on the fifth spot was epic!

Keith Lyman

2007, 5th Place

When I was listed fifth in the 2007 Readers Poll, I was very honored. To be listed among some of the most legendary riders, like [Shaun] Murray, Randall [Harris] and Danny Harf, is pretty awesome. I remember 2007 being a pretty busy year. I was featured in a video that came out in late 2006 that my good friend Justin Stephens had filmed, called The Truth, and I was filming for Oakley’s team ­video, called Push Process.

I wouldn’t have been able to impact and make as many fans as I did if it wasn’t for the people and companies that supported me back then. To them, I certainly need to give thanks. However, the biggest thanks will ­always go to my fans!

Parks Bonifay

1996, 10th Place

Man, it’s crazy to think it was over 20 years ago when I was first in the Readers Poll. Just to be in the same conversation as all of my heroes — [Scott] Byerly, [Erik] “Gator” [Lutgert], [Darin] Shapiro and Zane [Schwenk] — was unreal to me. I believe I was 14 when I got 10th place in the first-ever Readers Poll, in 1996! I think I was doing one of the first crow mobes in the sequence from that issue. It seems like forever ago, but I still get butterflies when I see the Readers Poll list from that year.