WW: Let’s start with some stats…name, age and where do you reside?
KL: Kat Laird, 46 (prehistoric in wakeboarding years), Austin, Texas area.
WW: How many years have you been wakeboarding for?
KL: 15 Years minus a few seasons for injuries (three ACLs and a Lisfranc ligament rupture each cost me a season).
WW: Who introduced you to the sport of wakeboarding?
KL: Darin Shapiro….well, not personally, but once I saw him ride on ESPN, I was soon on my way to the “ski” shop to buy a wakeboard. Remember the Hyperlite Pro with phasers? I filled mine in on the tail ‘cause I thought they were impeding my ability to go BIG! (LOL)
WW: Where is your local lake?
KL: While we still have water (in a severe drought right now), the lower part of the Pedernales River that feeds Lake Travis.
WW: Is there a bit of a wakeboard scene going on there?
KL: There is definitely a large wakeboard scene here in the ATX area with people of all ages and abilities. Billy G. at Freeride Wakeboard School is always introducing more and more every week too.
WW: Do you ride with the same people or do you venture out and ride with other wakeboarders?
KL: We have a regular crew (all women - LOL), but we often take others out with us, many of whom we meet on WakeWorld in the Find A Third section.
WW: What kind of boat do you usually ride behind?
KL: I have a 2009 Super Air Nautique 210 and a good friend has a SAN 230 in the slip beside it, so we ride both. I actually owned the first Super Air Nautique ever made, as I custom ordered a Super Sport with tower and Air graphics and had to wait several months for it to be made.
WW: How about your wakeboard set up?
KL: I am rocking a Wakeology board right now and loving it with Ronix Cell bindings (thanks, Herb O)!
WW: What do you enjoy most about wakeboarding?
KL: Being with my friends on the lake is such a relaxing setting. Wakeboarding provides free “therapy,” as I enjoy it so much and smile almost non-stop when behind the boat. Going to Wake Games, WWA Nationals and Worlds is also a lot of fun. It has enabled me to meet so many great people and develop friendships across the country and globe.
WW: What do you like to do when you’re not wakeboarding?
KL: Surf WakeWorld, hang with friends, watch sports and play golf.
WW: Do you have WakeWorld.com set as your home page?
KL: I don’t, but I should!
WW: Are there any tricks that you are working on or want to work on?
KL: I have been timid about throwing inverts since I suffered a serious foot injury at Wake Games last year on a tantrum. But, I tried a few toeside back rolls a couple of weeks ago and have a goal to land it/own it this season.
WW: What would your ideal day be like?
KL: Having my friends, crew and schnauzers on board with miles of smooth water with no water gnats or tubers to mess it up and an ice chest full of adult beverages!
WW: Pro wakeboarders…who would be your top three and why?
KL: Amber Wing - because she offered to let me ride her setup at Worlds one year when the airline lost my gear…who does that? She is such an awesome rider and an even better person and ambassador for the sport!
Shaun Murray - because I love his blind judge and overall riding style. He is very approachable, always smiling and portrays what the sport should be all about…having fun!
Dallas Friday - because she let me have a pull behind her awesome boat! No, seriously, it was amazing to have a wake waist high, but I admire her determination. She has suffered such serious injuries and continues to work hard and come back stronger than she was before. I’m looking forward to seeing her back next year. Go Dallas!
WW: Are there any spots that you are hoping to one day ride at?
KL: I want to go to Lake Powell again (been there three times) with a crew, but I am looking forward to riding Norris Lake in Tennessee sometime in the near future.
WW: Any words of advice to those that are starting out?
KL: Most importantly, have fun! Work on fundamentals before learning inverts and remember to have your “outfit” match! (Just kidding, but people are always teasing me about my board shorts/bikini top/t-shirt ensemble!) And, NEVER let your driver be a power turner (well, unless some extreme situation calls for it)!
WW: Is there anyone that you would like to thank?
KL: All of my orthopedic surgeons that kept putting me back together all these years so that I could ride again! ;-) James Johnson at Sail & Ski for selling me my Nautique. My boat drivers, Kim Drake and Susan Sheehan, and all the people that have given me coaching, pulls and the pleasure of watching them progress also. Geri Robertson, So Cal Women’s Veteran rider, for helping get our old lady group (aka Shred Hag Mafia) in amateur WWA contests. And, I can’t forget Billy Garcia, who will make sure that I land the toeside back roll this season.