That Girl Can Fly
World Champion Jen GilanFarr Talks Wakeskating
By Ted Sensenbrenner
Wakeskating – (n. wāk 'skāt-iNG) – a watersport akin to wakeboarding, except there are no bindings for the feet. Wakeskating uses a symmetrical board designed so that either end can go forward and permits the freedom of unrestrained movement on the deck. The rider typically wears sneaker-type shoes to maintain a grip on the board.
As a professional wakeskater, Jen GilanFarr has a lot of tricks up her sleeve. The Orlando, Florida, resident is not one to give up, especially when it comes to wakeskating. She is a multi-year world champion and claims numerous national titles. The 24-year-old graphic artist, known to her friends as "Jenny Danger" recently landed an incredibly tricky maneuver called a varial flip, or V-flip, making her the first woman in wakeskating to accomplish such a feat. Maneuvers like this are more foot-oriented and technical instead of full-on, inverted airborne assaults. Jen recently shared with BoatUS Trailering Magazine some of the things that have shaped her success and what it takes to stay on top of the board, and the rankings.
For starters, what is "wakeskating"?
Think of it this way: If wakeboarding is snowboarding on the water, then wakeskating is skateboarding on water. The board has grip tape instead of bindings, and you wear skate shoes so you can get a good grip and actually "walk" around on the board.
What kind of shoes do you wear?
I wear Nike 6.0 Braatas. They're designed for wakeskating. They don't hold much water and float! Any skate shoes will do the job.
Where is your favorite place to wakeskate?
Lake Tahoe! I grew up there in a place called Incline Village, Nevada. The water is crisp but you can see 75 feet down. It's gorgeous and it's my home.
What was your very first trick?
A backside shuv-it. While going forward, you unload and flip the board around 180 degrees, so the front is now the tail, and the tail is now the front.
Can you explain your latest trick and why it rocks?
I just landed my first varial flip, which is a kick flip with a shuv-it. This is when the board goes through a rotational 360 on its axis while the board goes through a horizontal end-for-end 180. This maneuver requires the board clear the water by unloading your weight and then flipping it in the air in a circle while also spinning the board so that what was the "back end" is now the "front end." This was a first for women's wakeskating so it was pretty exciting, and it just happened to be caught on video while being towed behind a jetski! You can view the video at www.oneillgirls.com and search for "first girl to land a varial flip." I'm also always making up goofy stuff like the one-footed butter slide to keep tricks fresh and interesting for judges and sponsors, and an inspiration to other riders.
What is your advice to young girls just starting out?
A cable park is a great place to learn and meet other girls who ride. Get out to contests, clinics, and girl ride days! The industry is small and the girls are very supportive. Also, www.WakeGirls.com promotes and showcases women in wake sports. There are a ton of how-to videos and forums where great information is exchanged. Train like a champion — I often learn and perfect new moves on a trampoline with a just a skateboard deck. It saves the shins. I also spend a ton of hours behind my 2011 Sea-Doo Wake Edition.
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Did You Know?
Jen's favorite drink is chocolate Yoo-hoo. She first tried it at a tournament and now insists her employer stock it in the breakroom fridge.
What's a Graphic Artist To Do?
I design most all of my board graphics with my sponsor Integrity Wake, such as this one featuring an image of my Grandma.