Words by Sophie Everard
Amber Wing is one of those rare all-round riders, who combine podium wins with stand out film sections, and freeriding with coaching. She’s a transworld globetrotter who divides her year between the salty lakes of Australia and the flat-water paradise of Florida. With a career spanning more than 10 years, Amber continues to dominate the wakeboarding scene and has been at the forefront of women’s progression, along with Oakley team mate Nicola Butler and American superstar Dallas Friday. Her sick rail skills and technical spins, paired with some general balls-out bravery, has meant Amber has stayed at the top of her game. She’s the first woman to have toeside 900s dialled and has been continuously pushing the limits in women’s wakeboarding ever since.
But where did this super-human talent for shred come from? After blowing out her ankle in gymnastics while training for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Amber noticed “people out there having fun on a wakeboard”, and was quick to strap in and get involved. And fun has continued to play a crucial role in Amber’s attitude towards wakeboarding, although her aggressive riding, strict mental focus, and knack for ending up on that podium could suggest that she’s also a pretty competitive machine.
“From the beginning I was waking up every morning super early, going wakeboarding, then going out again just before sundown. And I was never tired, I was just trying to be out on the water as much as I could. Maybe I have an addictive personality?” she suggests. “My first addiction was gymnastics, and then I started wakeboarding. I definitely fell in love with it, I loved going out on the boat, getting to socialise with my friends, and then going out to ride”.
Working in a local shop, Amber immersed herself in wake, and it didn’t take long for the resident pros to notice her passion and raw talent. This no doubt stepped her riding up a significant notch, as she was invited to compete in the men’s category in regional comps. Riding with the boys has, Amber willingly admits, shaped her into the rider she is today. “It really pushed me and helped me to throw down harder tricks, all the guys that I ride with are so supportive and are always encouraging me to try new tricks. You can’t be a top female in any sport without training with the guys, they push you past your boundaries and get you to that level. It gives you some sort of extra edge”.
Extra edge indeed, Amber is responsible singlehandedly for many of the firsts in women’s wakeboarding. We’ve already mentioned that 900, and she was also the first woman to land both toeside and heelside 720s. Spurred on by fellow pro rider Danny Harf, Amber chuckles when she remembers her attempts to stomp her spins, “I specifically remember I over spun the toe seven to a nine, and Danny telling me to try a nine, again and again! I was so tired but he kept telling me ‘You’ve got it in you!’”
Women’s wakeboarding is clearly in a good place right now. We’ve had Amber blazing a serious trail, Dallas Friday stomping the shit out of an S bend for the first time in competition, and UK representatives Charlotte Bryant and Jules Haley making us all sit up and take notice. As we enter the new decade, Amber is still as hyped as ever to maintain that momentum and get out on the water. With a twinkle in her eye she tells us we should watch the hell out, because she and teammate Nicola have spent this winter working on a whole new bunch of tricks ready to knock our socks off.
Amber will be returning to Wakestock this July for her second year, and we’ll be psyched to see what will go down after she killed it last year. “It’s definitely a real special event, for one because of the weather – you never know what it’s gonna be like. I had a snowboard jacket, snowboard socks and wellies with me last year!” Despite the erratic British weather, Amber clearly had a grand old time, joining in with the dogged British ability to party on in spite of torrential rain, gusts and gales. “It’s the music, the vibe, and the people…come rain, hail or shine, they are having a good time, and that makes us wanna be there”. The prodigious rider shows no signs of slowing down, and this year sees her as amped as anything, coming into her ninth endless summer, “It’s really crazy when you think about it, that’s 18 summers riding”. Crazy it is, and as we leave Amber with a big grin on her face, we’ve no doubt we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of her in many summers to come.
Amber is sponsored by Oakley, Liquid Force, Supra Boats, Pro-Tec and Wing Wetsuits
Wakestock 2011 is just takes place on the July 8-10 in at Cardigan Bay North Wales. For more info check out wakestock.co.uk