What is it like being a pro wakeboarder coming out of Canada?
I don’t think it’s easier or harder than for a kid from, I don’t know, Portland to make it. It’s just as hard to get noticed, but if you put your mind to it and put in the effort and time, I think you can make it no matter where you’re from. But it definitely helps to be down South and get those extra months and ride with the best riders.
You’re coming off your best year on Tour. Why do you think things went so well last year?
I had a stronger mind-set. Knowing what I need to do and what I can do helped out a lot. Basically, I knew my riding was good enough, but it was a matter of doing it right then and there. It has a lot to do with being mentally stronger.
Phil, Bob and Rathy are your main riding partners, right? How has that affected your contest riding and your riding in general?
Those three guys really want it bad, and they’re good riders. We all strive for the same thing and we all feed off each other and we learn from each other. I’ve learned some stuff from those guys, and sometimes those guys learn stuff from me. We all just have good chemistry.
What are your goals for this contest season?
I want to keep doing well on the King of Wake, and there are a couple of System 2.0 events in Europe I did last year that I want to go back to and do better in. I want to become a better rider — go bigger, do better tricks, make myself look better and hit new rails.
You’re respected on both the wake and rails. Is that something you focus on?
I’ve been thinking that way for a long time. It’s probably hurt me sometimes and helped me other times to concentrate sometimes more on boat than on rails or vice versa. In the end, that’s what I feel like I should be doing and where I should be.
How do you keep that balance?
It’s almost like a need. If I ride too much boat one week, I’m needy for some rails. That way, riding never gets old. There’s always something new out there that you want to do.
You just landed your first 1080, right?
Yeah, Rusty Malinoski motivated JD and I to come over and try 10s. I committed to a couple of them and felt like I could do it. I was getting closer than I thought I was going to get. On my last try, I gave it all I had. I was so surprised when I came around and saw the water. Everybody jumped around and the boat stopped. It was just a crazy moment. Twenty minutes later, what do you know, JD’s stomping one off the double-up too. It was just a crazy experience. I’m still having trouble actually believing I did it. There aren’t many things that feel better than pushing your limits and coming out of it with a positive experience.
What else are you working on?
I’ve been working on Pete 5s and crow 5s for the past couple weeks, getting those more and more consistent so I can do them in my run. Other than that, Bob and I have been messing around trying different grabs on different tricks — messing around with different axes and different corks and seeing how they turn out.
You signed with Slingshot this year. How’s that been so far?
They have a great vision for where the sport is going, and I was very excited about the opportunity because I feel like being a rider who spends so much time riding rails, flex boards are a great complement to my riding. It’s just been a great start and hopefully it will keep going and growing.