WakeWorld Rider Link: John Pretti
- Author: Arun Frances
- Categorized in: Articles, Interviews
WW: Let’s start with some stats: name, age and where do you reside?
JP: My name is John Pretti and I’m 37 years old and still holding it down for the old dudes. Originally, I’m from St. Louis, Missouri and, since I finally decided to grow up a few years back, I find myself presently residing just across the river from St. Louis in Edwardsville. IL.
WW: How many years have you been wakeboarding?
JP: I started riding around 1987 on a Skurfer Rage I got from my folks at Christmas 1986. I rode it for a few years until around 1993, I think, and then moved on to pursue other interests including MX and BMX. I started riding again around 2001 or 2002 and have been riding ever since and really started to push myself to be a little more serious about it in 2006. All in all, I would say about 15 years.
WW: Who introduced you to the sport of wakeboarding?
JP: My folks bought some property in Holiday Shores, Illinois (private lake community where I live now) around 1984, which led me to become a pretty avid waterskier. As with anything, you kind of follow what you like in the media and it was not long after that we got cable TV and I saw Hot Summer Nights on ESPN. I watched that pretty intently for the next few summers and they kept showing the wakeboarders as an exhibition at the tour stops. I can’t recall the riders I saw on there, but it was before the famous Shapiro interviews and I was like, “I have to try this.” I guess you could say, by chance, I kind of introduced myself, since no one that I knew was doing it around here at the time.
WW: Where do you usually ride?
JP: Depends on the day, but I usually ride here at the house at Holiday Shores in Edwardsville or head up the road a bit to Hillsboro, Illinois and hit up this little gem called Glenn Shoals. There are some pretty sweet honey pots on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers that are pretty close, but some boats I have been driving haven’t gotten along with the rivers too much the past few summers, so I am sticking to the lakes this year. When not riding behind the boat, I will hop in the truck and head five hours west to shred cable with the KC crew at KC Watersports and get some boat sets in with my good buddy Chance Bixby and “The Legend.”
WW: Is there a bit of a wakeboard scene going on there?
JP: In my eyes, the Midwest scene, particularly in Missouri and Illinois and the St. Louis and Kansas City areas especially, are on the verge of getting huge. The problem is that we the riders and the riding spots are all spread out.
That was my main reason for starting WakeboardSTL with some close buddies. We wanted to try to bring all of the area riders together, do some fun events and share the stoke. There are some seriously talented and devoted diehard riders here, from beginner to pro caliber. It never ceases to amaze me. WakeboardSTL could be doing an event or helping out a local shop with an event or at the annual boat show and you would not believe some of the great riders and all-around good people I have been fortunate to run across. I feel so fortunate to have met and continue to meet so many of these folks and have developed close friendships with many of them.
WW: Do you ride with a set crew of people or do you mix it up a little?
JP: I ride with both. My good buddy Jimmy Almeter is always with me. You could compare us to Shaun and Travis, probably not quite as talented, but we’re every bit as funny. As mentioned, we have made many friends over the years, so you never know who’s going to pop in to shred for the day.
WW: What kind of boat do you usually ride behind?
JP: I have been through quite a few since 2001, but Jimmy and I currently have a 2009 MasterCraft X-Star, which has been the featured attraction at many of the homeowner association meetings. Get ready neighbors, we just pumped her up to 3000 pounds too.
WW: How about your wakeboard set up?
JP: Liquid Force had been my gear of choice for many years, but I decided to switch it up last year and joined the flex brigade. I am currently riding a 2010 Slingshot Response 142 with 2009 Company Pro Bindings.
WW: What do you enjoy most about wakeboarding?
JP: Being able to spend time with close friends, having a sense of accomplishment when I land or get close to a new trick, watching other people progress and being pumped on their riding no matter what they are working on. Hot bikini clad girls on the boat and frosty cold adult beverages are just a bonus in my eyes. I’m there to ride.
WW: What do you like to do when you’re not wakeboarding?
JP: Try to keep the WakeboardSTL crew motivated, make sure our website is updated and think outside the box, try to keep my dog, Chunk, entertained and, when wake season is over, it’s time to hit the local hill on the snowboard.
WW: Do you have WakeWorld.com set as your home page?
JP: Sorry guys, unfortunately it’s set to WakeboardSTL.com, but I do visit WakeWorld.com no less than 20 times a day to see what’s happening.
WW: Are there any tricks that you are working on or want to work on?
JP: For this year, I am really wanting to focus on toeside tricks, which is where I have been lacking, and focus on getting some of my heelside tricks consistent. By the end of this season I would like to have a scarecrow, toe front, toe 3 and 5, get my heel 3 and back roll consistent and work on a grabbed heelside roll to revert. I finally realized I am never going to be pro, so I am just going to work on the tricks I like. I am not going to learn a tantrum or Raley because I need it in a contest pass. I’m just riding for me and I have to get up and go to work the next day usually.
WW: What would your ideal day be like?
JP: If I didn’t have to work, I would wake up, have some breakfast, ride boat until lunch, have lunch and ride cable all afternoon. When that’s done, I would just like to relax, have dinner and repeat the next day. Probably would only be able to do that for a few days before my body said enough is enough, but I would give it hell.
WW: Pro wakeboarders…who would be your top 3 and why?
- Shaun Murray – He’s an all-around good, genuine guy and I really like his style. Having been to his camp a few times, it has been great to get to know him, ride with him and see that he still gets excited when someone lands a new trick. He has been a huge influence on my riding.
- Travis Moye – I know he’s not a pro wakeboarder, but he has pulled enough of them, so it’s just the same. I don’t even know where to start with Travis, other than great friend, coach and mentor. I don’t want this to sound like an ad for The Boarding School, but if you want to find out what wakeboarding is all about, you need to visit these guys.
- Keith Lidberg – He is so underrated, but he flat out slays it. Rails, behind the boat, so much style, control, consistency and an all-around good guy. I think he is probably the hardest working guy in the industry that you never hear much about.
WW: Are there any spots that you are hoping to ride at one day?
JP: Not really. Powell and some of those bigger lakes don’t do a whole lot for me. I have ridden Bull Shoals, Table Rock, got to go on a field trip with the TBS boys to the St. John’s River, so I guess I would have to say the Delta, just so I can see what all the hype is about. My west coast buddy Brandon Poser says Bake-o-dise is pretty legit, so probably there too.
WW: Do you have any words of advice to those that are starting out?
JP: To me the key thing is to remember why you are wakeboarding, which is hopefully to have fun. It’s easy to lose sight of why you are out there and put pressure on yourself when you can’t get that trick or you’re having a bad day. Just keep it fun and that should keep it fresh. I struggle with that at times because I want to progress so badly, but I have to bring myself back down to earth and tell myself keep it fun.
WW: Is there anyone that you would like to thank?
JP: The entire WakeboardSTL crew: Jimmy Almeter, Aaron Burlingame, Chance Bixby, Jon Prehn, Todd Watson, Nick Franklin and all of the others. You know who you are and thanks for helping me to try to stay grounded. The crew at Stateamind Watersports for hooking me up when I need something and all the boys at The Boarding School for helping me to become a better rider and person.