Meagan Ethell was unstoppable this year. World Champion, National Champion, Overall Champion, 2x Rider Of The Year; the eighteen year old already has some impressive titles under her belt. Originally from Illinois, Meagan now lives in Orlando, Florida to pursue her career as a professional rider.
WW: Where and when did you first get introduced to wakeboarding?
ME: My family had a lake house in Michigan and there was a wakeboard there. When I was 8, I asked my dad if I could try wakeboarding.
WW: At what age did you decide to make the move to Florida?
ME: I was eleven when I moved to Florida.
WW: At what age did you know that you wanted to be a professional?
ME: I never really thought about being a professional until I was around eleven. When I was that young, I never thought I would be where I am now.
WW: How do you balance school and riding?
ME: People ask me that all the time, and I never thought high school was a hard balance because it was what I was used to for so long. My school was really understanding and let me miss as much as I needed to. As for college, you can't really miss too much, so online classes are the best way to go. You get to do school while traveling which is so nice.
WW: What are you studying in college?
ME: I'm currently studying business.
WW: 2015 Was a great year for you, especially after coming back from an injury. How did you stay so motivated and focused when you were out on the sidelines?
ME: I think just that urge to want to be on the water really kept me focused while I was out. Wanting to chase your dreams when you physically can't is a huge motivator because it makes you want it that much more. Almost as if you have to make up for all the lost time.
WW: How many times do you usually ride a day (season and off-season)?
ME: Season: 1-2 times and about six days a week. Off season: once a day and about four days a week.
WW: Who do you usually ride with?
ME: In the summertime when Larisa stayed with me, she and I rode every day together, as well as some of the Aussies when they were here. I ride with Guenther Oka and Mike Dowdy quite a bit as well.
WW: Do you still ride with a coach?
ME: I train with Mike Ferraro about 1-2 times a month and a little more frequently during the season.
WW: Which riders would you say inspire and push your riding the most?
ME: Probably Guenther Oka and Mike Dowdy because they're the people I ride with the most and the people who are pushing me to try new things and to make myself a better rider.
WW: This season the girls saw their first World Series and were included in almost as many stops as the guys. Where was your favorite place you traveled to?
ME: There were so many great stops this year. My favorite would probably have to be Portugal because of how beautiful it was. Having the mountains in the background while we rode was insane.
WW: How does it feel to compete against some of your best friends?
ME: It's fun competing against some of my best friends because we aren't only pushing each other while we are out there, but we are cheering for each other as well. Going off the dock and having one of your friends/competitors tell you good luck is a good feeling.
WW: What would you say was your highlight of this year?
ME: Winning women's Rider Of The Year was a major one, but also winning both the cable events, boat event, as well as the WBWS overall title in Houston was an unreal highlight for me.
WW: How did it feel to win Female Rider Of the year? Were you expecting that?
ME: I honestly wasn't sure who was going to win that award. It was a tough call between me and Dallas because she killed it this year as well. It was so surreal though to win female Rider Of The Year.
WW: This year you won the National Title in the boat and cable division…How?
ME: I ride the cable on a regular basis. I’m out there at least once a week. Before Nationals I went down to Miami early and rode three days at Miami Watersports Complex, which helped me win the cable. For boat, I train almost every day, which definitely helped me win the boat side.
WW: Do you ride through the whole off-season? What else do you do to stay fit?
ME: I don't ride as much as I do in the season, but I still ride a bit during the off season. To stay fit, I do Crossfit at Clermont Crossfit and that really helps me stay strong and healthy when I'm not on the water as much.
WW: What do you like about Crossfit? And living in Orlando, why do you choose to go out to the Clermont location?
ME: I love the intensity and fast pace the overall workout has. I choose to go to Clermont because I've been going there so long that I have such a solid relationship with that gym. I love working out with all the people there and training with Kyle [Rattray], Rusty [Malinoski] and Steve (one of the main trainers).
WW: Do you think cross-training in the gym helps with injury prevention?
ME: I personally think Crossfit works for me with the prevention of injuries. It makes me stronger and we do a lot of range of motion stuff, which is really helpful with preventing injuries.
WW: You’ve landed a few double flips off the kicker. Have you thought about trying any doubles behind the boat yet?
ME: Yeah, I've thought about it before. I think about so many tricks that I haven't landed before that would be cool to land in the future.
WW: Tell us about your new pro model.
ME: I'm very excited about the new Liquid Force ME. It's the Classic shape and it's one of the most versatile women's wakeboards on the LF line. From being a beginner to a pro level, it's great for anyone to ride. Having my first pro model is one of my biggest accomplishments so far and I'm so stoked to ride it this year!
WW: As a pro rider you have a lot of kids looking up to you, especially young girls. How do you try to be a positive role model?
ME: I really like to set a good example at the contests, as well as on social media. There are so many younger followers now and they see everything that you post. Also, coming and supporting all the girls at the Gravel Tour, as well as riding with them at the Shred Sister events is a way I like to be a positive role model that these younger girls can look up to.
WW: Who are your current sponsors?
ME: My sponsors are Nautique Boats, Performance Ski & Surf, Liquid Force and Red Bull.
WW: What are your goals for 2016?
ME: There are many goals for 2016! One of them is to keep pushing women's wakeboarding outside of the limits! To land tricks in contests that women haven't landed before. Also, I really want to get a magazine cover for 2016. That would be a dream!
WW: Thanks for your time, Meagan! Who would you like to thank?
ME: I would like to thank all of my sponsors for the tremendous support. I would like to thank my family for being there and helping me make my dreams into reality. Also, I would like to thank my coach, Mike Ferraro, because I wouldn't be where I am without him!
Find Meagan on Instagram (@meaganethell), Facebook or Shapchat (meagan_ethell).