Risk vs. Reward in the progression of wake

Risk vs Reward

A few years ago I briefly mentioned the “Risk vs Reward” in the wake sports.  It’s honestly one of the big driving factors of the fastest growing sports.. wakesurfing.  Why? The falls don’t hurt wakesurfing and your probablitiy of injury is slim. So, is the inherent risk of injury worth landing a trick???  For beginning wakeboarders and by that I mean starting from scratch- simply getting up and riding.. the risk is low and the rewards are high.  You get to ride around on top of the water on the wakeboard or wakeskate.  We start all the new riders out as slow as we can, with a comfortable riding speed w/ out drag and teach the fundamentals like: posture, handle position and beginning edge control.  The next steps are increasing speed for edge control and learning to ollie.  Getting the board to “pop” off the water without jumping and pulling the board up to you.  Obviously on a wakeskate pulling the board up is not possible, so the ollie is extremely important.  You have to learn a few other basics, the 180 and 360 on the surface of the water.  You learn the handle pass.  You also reach the first part of “Risk”, which is catching an edge when the board is in rotation.  The Risk, catching a frontside edge, is a nice faceplant.  It happens before you can blink your eye, and it will feel like your eyes were open and lakewater feels like it is shot though your eye sockets to the back of your head.  This is usually not enought to deter someone from continuing to progress.. it’s a nice hard fall, but few actually stop here.. the reward is to great.. Reward, being AIR.. jumping wake to wake.  The two wakesports launch (no pun intended) from here.. getting air and doing tricks.  Going wake to wake is not the first step, there are one wake jumps and the inside out jump of which you can also learn to do tricks, usually a heelside frontside 180.  Just fyi, definition of frontside 180 in case you were in question: For performing rotational tricks, frontside means that for the first 90-180 degrees of the rotation, the rider rotates to face the direction of travel. For a rider traveling in the “regular” stance (left foot leading), frontside means to rotate counter-clockwise. Conversely, a rider doing a backside rotation/trick is rotating clockwise.  When riding switch, the term is reversed. For example, a rider in the “goofy” stance (right foot leading) does a frontside 180 when he/she rotates 180 degrees clockwise.When applied to tricks involving obstacles, backside and frontside take on different meaning: the terms define how the obstacle is being approached. For example, when performing a frontside boardslide, “frontside” means that the obstacle (e.g. rail ) is to the front (the toe-side) of the wakeboarder. To carry out a frontside boardslide, a regular-stance skater will rotate slightly clockwise before sliding, facing away from the direction of travel. This is the opposite direction of rotation to a frontside ollie.

Getting air and doing your first Heelside FS 180 off a single wake usually erupts the boat into cheers and fist pumps.. a loud blast of the horn to let everyone know you rode away.. Reward=HUGE.  This done on a wakeskate, and your not strapped to the board Reward=HUUUGE!  * Note the risk is equally as huge, but who cares.. we are moving toward wake to wake (W2W). The rider is on his/her way to the first of wake stardome.. the W2W jump.. The risk for a rider goes up a little here, there’s a progressive edge that if you let up on, it’s highly probable that you case the 2nd wake, bounce and catch a FS edge = faceplant and this one… well it really hurts.  This happens when your beginner body says, slow down and that’s the last thing you need to do, you need more speed to make the jump.  Reward of pulling through and landing w2w for the first time, HUGE and everyone goes nuts in the boat.. the rider is stoked..
Nest step is that he/she now gets to learn that W2W on the toe side.  Then onto doing them switch.. The tricks from here are endless.. W2W inverted tricks and multiple 360, and the combination of the two are big tricks which the rewards are truly great…you will have ridden away from a trick not a lot of people can do.  Now with that being said, there is a lot more risk of a HARD fall…. and sometimes we get injured.  (I’m nursing an ankle as I type this).    You have to keep in mind what your after, how much do you want to practice.  Getting proper instruction can save you a lot of pain and suffering.. it can also keep a rider from giving up on the sport.  If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.. keep practicing, set your goals, understand the risk, and look at the rewards you get from your dedication and hard work