Meagan Ethell - Queen of Wake
- Author: Mike Krohn
- Darin Shapiro
- Categorized in: Articles, Features, Interviews, Photos, Pics/Video
It was truly epic in some ways, almost like English Royalty, as Meagan Ethell got her crown at only 15 years old and was named the 2012 Queen of Wake. No, she didn't have it passed on to her from her Royal family. She had to take her crown from a talented and gifted Queen named Amber Wing. In a well-fought wakeboard battle that came down to the WWA Worlds in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, Meagan stole Amber's crown and took her place on the throne to begin her reign atop women's wakeboarding. I caught up with Meagan in Orlando and got her story about boards, boats and crowns.
WW: Last time we did this, you had just gotten your first big win at Wake Games. Can you let us in on why you have become so successful?
ME: After Wake Games I started to have a lot of confidence thinking, I can win these things! So having confidence definitely made me do better in all the contests I rode in this year.
WW: So you are world champ and Queen of Wake at only 15 years old. Do you feel any different now than you did a year ago before all the tour wins and sponsorships?
ME: I definitely feel more confident in my riding and as a person from doing better this year than from last. But in the way I act, I don't feel any different now than last season.
WW: Speaking of sponsors, who are you riding for these days?
ME: I'm riding for OWC, which I've been riding there since I was 10, Nautique, Performance and Liquid Force (who I just signed with). It feels awesome knowing I have such great sponsors that support me.
WW: What setup are you riding now that you’re with Liquid Force and what made you decide to go with that one?
ME: Behind the boat I'm riding the Harley board and Amber Wing bindings. I just like how Harley's board has such awesome pop and great landings. It was definitely a drastic change switching from my old board to the Harley. And on cable I ride the Melissa board, which I just switched to from riding the Watson Classic. I never knew how a flex board felt and it feels so cool pressing the rails. It has definitely changed the way I ride cable and I love it!
WW: You have always been a Nautique girl. It seemed like every time I used to see you on the Kankakee River back in Illinois you were always behind one. Now you train behind one at OWC and have become a Nautique team rider. How cool is that and what do you like most about their boats?
ME: I have been riding Nautique ever since I started wakeboarding. My very first boat was a 210 Nautique and my coach Mike has pulled me behind one since I was little. Their boats have definitely been in my early years of wakeboarding. It feels amazing being sponsored by them because I have been dreaming about being sponsored by them since I was little. I just love how they pull, how they look and how such a prestigious company is sponsoring me.
WW: You and Nicola had a tight battle for the Queen of Wake crown this year. Do you think that helped motivate you or was she not even in your mind?
ME: She has motivated me to my limits. Seriously, if it wasn't for her I wouldn't have worked so hard to win. She beat me two tour stops in a row and she proved to me what it takes to win. I'm really glad she was working as hard as me this year because it just kept pushing our riding and made both of us better and, hey, we put on a great head to head battle for the crowd.
WW: What does keep you motivated being a young girl in a sport dominated by men?
ME: What keeps me motivated is how bad people look on women's wakeboarding. I just work hard and prove myself to everyone that I can ride more like a man and step it up. Especially riding the cable with my guy friends, because they all push me to ride like them and it definitely helps. I think what pushes riders and helps them learn new tricks are when they’re with friends that are better than them and push them a lot.
WW: You had a heart-breaker at Worlds in 2011 being eliminated in your heat with a less than impressive run. What went through your mind before you went off the dock in your finals run this year at Worlds?
ME: I barely rode the season and I just pressured myself so hard last year at Worlds. I worked so hard last year riding, but I didn't work on the mental part. This year at Worlds I didn't watch the other riders. I thought to myself I should have fun for once, not to take it as seriously and pressure myself as bad and to just enjoy myself because this was the last stop of my first Queen of Wake.
WW: You had a 100 point run at the last stop of the Wake Park Triple Crown. Do you plan on showing us more of your rail magic next season in more Wake Park events?
ME: Of course! I love riding cable so much and I definitely plan on improving my cable riding and stepping it up.
WW: Speaking of rails what do you think of the new floating pool obstacle at OWC?
ME: I seriously love that rail so much, even though we had a rough beginning. It's so much fun to hit. There are so many ways to ride it too. I can never get bored on it!
WW: It seems like you really are enjoying being a kid and not getting caught up in all the hype surrounded by being a pro rider in Orlando, is that tough?
ME: I do enjoy being a kid. With all the stuff that goes on from being sponsored and missing so much school, it can be tough. But I don't really mind missing school because I love doing all the wakeboard things that I miss school for even though missing school means more homework. But if it wasn't tough, then everybody would be doing it, and that why I love wakeboarding.
WW: What are your top three things to do when you’re not on a wakeboard?
ME: This is a seriously hard question when I'm asked in interviews because all I do is wakeboard. Hmm, I would have to say hanging out with friends, long-boarding and spending time with my family.
WW: What's your sound? What kind of music are you into. Who are your favorite bands?
ME: I'm seriously into everything except some country music, but pretty much everything. I like hip-hop, rap, rock, electric and dance. I like Taylor Swift, Nicky Manaj, The Plain White Tee's, Britney Spears, Maroon 5. It's pretty diverse. I like all kinds of music.
WW: What’s your favorite movie and T.V. show?
ME: My favorite movie is Big Daddy and favorite T.V. show is X-Factor.
WW: Who is your buddy on tour? Who do you hang out with at the events?
ME: I hang out a lot with the Junior Men riders who are my age and Taylor McCullough because she is only a year younger than me.
WW: Who is your favorite rider to watch these days? Who inspires you?
ME: I have a lot, but I really like watching Harley and Bob Soven ride. My favorite legend is Parks.
WW: As far as tricks go, you have a pretty deep bag. Which one is your favorite to throw and which one gives you the most trouble?
ME: I really like doing my Dum Dum, but the trick that sometimes throws me down, either I hit or I miss, is my handle pass KGB.
WW: Where is the coolest place wakeboarding has brought you to?
ME: One of the coolest places I loved to go was The Projects. I seriously loved that place! It had the coolest rails and everyone out there was really cool. So many awesome memories from there that I have.
WW: Your welcome to the team video from Liquid Force (below) was sick. You threw some hammers in that clip that really made people in the industry notice that you do have a bright future in the sport. What are your goals in wakeboarding? Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?
ME: I see myself in college and competing seriously in boat and cable. I see myself changing women's wakeboarding and proving myself to the people that thought a woman could never ride like a guy.
WW: As much as I know that you love to ride, everyone has bad days on the water. Has there ever been a point when you said to yourself, “I just want to be a kid and I'm over this?”
ME: There have definitely been days where I thought that to myself. If I had those days, I was probably over-riding or just not landing my tricks. Wakeboarding takes up so much of my life, if I were to quit then I would have nothing to do and be bored all the time.
WW: Great coaching seems to be key in your success. Mike Ferraro is one of, if not the, greatest wakeboard innovators and coaches of all time, as well as a funny guy. Do you have one good Ferraro story you can share with us?
ME: One time Mike was pulling me and I wasn't landing an easy trick. He was getting mad at me and he left me in the water at the far end of OWC's lake. I was so mad, so I walked back and I wanted to get even. I saw his flip flops, the shoes he wore before he started wearing his little skater shoes, and I hid them. He gets back and is asking me where his shoes are? I wasn't going to tell him, but then he said, "If you don't give them to me by the time I count to five then for the next five times you ride I'm going to leave you at the end of the lake again!" I was so scared I ran and got his shoes and gave them to him…and so I've probably been scared of him ever since. He thinks he's the Simon Cowell of wakeboarding!
WW: What six riders, past or present, male or female, would make up your wakeboard "Dream Team?"
ME: Parks, Harley, Bob Soven, Nicola, Steel and Shaun Murray. Seems like a pretty legit "Dream Team" to have.
WW: Is there anything you want to say to your peeps, or anyone you want to send a shout out to?
ME: I would like to thank my sponsors; OWC, Performance, Nautique and Liquid Force. Ryan Jones for teaching me everything on a trampoline, but also for being an awesome motivator. Mike Ferraro for never letting me get the easy way out and being a mean coach (which pushed me really hard). And I would like to thank my mom and dad. I seriously couldn't have done it without them.
Let's face it, through the years the girls on tour might not have gotten the respect they deserve. But there has never been a more competitive and exciting time to watch women's pro wakeboarding than now. Meagan Ethell is currently leading that pack, throwing tricks in her contest runs that most girls have only dreamed about. At only fifteen years old, she has won tour stops, been crowned Queen of Wake and already is sponsored by some of the biggest names in the industry. Will she change the sport of women's wakeboarding? Only time will tell for sure, but I think she already has.