French artist Henri Matisse says “Another word for creativity is courage”. That rings true watching Michigan’s up and coming rider Hannah Mennega. From her own stylish looks to her incredible talent snowboarding, cable park riding or winching over rocks, her creative bravery got her on the podium at her very first contest this past summer. It’s an honor and a delight to watch her bloom into her own magic. Here’s a Q&A with Women’s Wakeboarding fastest rising star…
Where are you from?
Grand Rapids, Michigan although I’ve recently been living in North Carolina.
How old are you?
How did you get into wakeboarding?
I had started to get really into snowboarding the year before and I missed being on a board during summer. I heard about Action Wake Park near my house and it looked like it would be similar to snowboarding so I showed up, and was addicted pretty much right away.
How long have you been practicing?
This is my third season wakeboarding.
Best contest results?
Well, I’ve only ever ridden in one contest, but I got 2nd in features only at the WWA World’s at Valdosta last year.
Probably tail roll to blind or just anytime I don’t get smoked at a winch spot.
Does orange juice count as a favorite food? Cause I love orange juice, and maybe baked potatoes.
Who do you ride with?
The guys I rode most with this summer were Gibby Corcoran, Dylan Mead, Ethan Weaver, Jake Flynn, Spencer Littlefield, Wes Huber, and Clark Davis. We are sitting on a pretty solid stack of clips right now, so keep an eye out for those dropping here in the next few months!
Please tell us about your first time winching
My first winch spot was kind of a chaotic experience. I was in Virginia coaching snowboarding(well actually carpet boarding, because summer) and the plan was for me to fly back to MI, sleep one night at home, and then drive to Illinois to meet up with the rest of the ZMT crew and hit some spots to film for our movie “Tape.” During my layover in North Carolina, my flight home ended up getting delayed until 2am and then cancelled. The next available flight to MI was going to be a 36 hour wait so instead I took a 3 hour nap under an airport chair and flew straight to Chicago.
I had no wakeboard, no gear, no sleep, and the airline lost my snowboard bag with most of my clothes inside, but we pieced together a setup including Matt Gagnon’s (waaay too big) helmet, Hunter Thane’s board and West Rock Wakepark’s rental boots, and went anyway. The first spot I actually hit was just a couple rock ollies, which took me far too many tries to land, but I put at least part of that blame on American Airlines…
What has been your worst crash?
I’ve taken a couple good slams this year filming for our upcoming movie. Early this spring I learned that sliding concrete on your back at 20mph in a crop top is not very fun, but the worst one for sure was tearing my ACL on a drop in Tennessee this past October.
When you are about to try a new trick where do you find your courage and inspiration?
I wouldn’t have half the street clips I currently have without the people I ride with. They’re always giving me tips and hyping me up, and that feeling when you finally get the clip and you hear the yells from all the homies as you ride away is pretty great.
For the day to day cable laps though, the times I feel most creative are our after-hours sets at Elevated Wake Park. I put my music in, and get to ride with no one filming, no one really watching, just a few of us together wakeboarding for the fun of wakeboarding.
Who are your sponsors?
Slingshot and I Ride Sideways (for snowboarding)
Who inspires you in and out of the water?
Within wakeboarding, it hypes me up so much to see other girls winching. Riding street is some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a wakeboard and seeing women from all over the world start to push the sport in that direction is so sick! I also like to take inspiration from other boardsports, and turning on a snowboard movie like Colton Feldman’s “Bender” or one of The Dustbox projects always gets me fired up to ride.