Zane Schwenk InterviewZane Schwenk has been on the Pro Wakeboard Tour for a number of years. He has many top finishes on the Pro Tour, at Worlds and at the X-Games. After seven knee surgeries, Zane still goes huge and is also heavily involved in the business side of the sport. Read up on Insane Zane...
SC: Can you give us a little info about your wakeboarding background?
I started out doing some 2 planking and some barefooting and crazy freestyle jumping as a kid then in the summer of 1991 or 1992 I got a call from Connelly and they said they wanted me to try out some new stuff…that was the STICK…a crude version of “ski boarding.” It was way ahead of it’s time, so I headed to a try out of sorts in Orlando and met up with the great Dave Reinhart. We rode and we learned some stuff from each other….all along I was doing this so I could get some free jumpers to huck myself in a “circus” like fashion off the ramps and not even thinking what wakeboarding was about to become.
SC: Can you briefly describe a day in the life of Zane when you’re not traveling?
I get up at 6-7, hit the gym, run 5-6 miles on the elliptical, lift, hit the legs hard, come back at 8:30 and hit the emails. Then I work on taking care of orders, customer needs, information for the dealers that I work with etc. At about noon [Derek] Grasman and [Jeff] House start to come over. They usually ride and I take the PWC out to my X-Star and beg for them to pull me. Then we head back and grab some lunch. After lunch it’s more calls to dealers, boat orders, board orders, bouncing between the 2. It’s kind of interesting to me cause one minute we are talking about wakes, strategies in markets etc and the next we are talking boards, boots, and strategies in the markets too. Then if I am lucky at the end of the day I’ll sneak in another set. If not I go back to the gym usually. Usually I am on the computer until 8-9 at night then we eat. Lately Guitar Hero 2 has been the rage for [Jimmy] Trask & Grasman at my house so that’s fun, and that’s a day at home! Work, 2 sets, work out - pretty boring really.
SC: I’ve heard you called Insane Zane. What’s that all about?
Back in the day when I’d launch off the ramp that was my nickname - sort of like WWF shit, but it was fun because at the time it was true. [Dave] Briscoe would tell me to try a double front off the wake and I would, low pole, no weight, no vest on, a directional toeside, and get close too. Then it became Insane for other reasons which are better left to imaginations! Ahhh fun times!!!
SC: I hear the Kelowna Pro Tour stop is your favorite event. Why is that?
Ahhh have you been to Kelowna? That town is off the hook! I love it… I wish the water was calmer but the event overall is run well, brings in tons of new faces to see our sport and the town opens its arms to the event. What’s not to like?
SC: Where else in Canada will people be able to see you this summer?
Not sure… This summer’s tight. I was in Edmonton earlier, but summer is getting short, and you guys have snow coming, so maybe on the internet?
SC: Tell us a little about Planet Wakeboard.
We built that a while back. It’s a bummer cause it’s a great idea but with the hectic life I am living I cannot take control and make it what the sport needs. On a good note though I did get a great opportunity to send several riders some information that hopefully helped their riding and ultimately it pushed us to do the instructional “The Riders Edge” which has sold well. I think it offers a few different perspectives on how to accomplish new moves, so it was fun and short!!!
SC: Do you ever get out on a wakeskate?
Yeah, wake to wake stuff - 180s etc, but I suck at any tech moves or low tech like a simple shuv. I’m a complete retard on some of that! Maybe this winter I will work on it more…
SC: How would you describe your riding style? What other sports have influenced you and your riding?
Weird style for sure. I have a very old school look and lately guys like Derek Grasman, Jimmy Trask and JD [Webb] are helping me to try to infuse some new style into my riding, so I think it’s like that fusion food stuff - bit of old and some of new…but always entertaining!
SC: What is your favorite trick?
Really anything. I like them all. Learning and perfecting new stuff is always a blast , but I think I like any trick - hell just got some methods that is an easy trick for some, but felt so damn cool to me. I could not stop doing a simple method!
SC: When you go our for a session, do you normally spend more of your time working on tricks you’ll during a comp, or do you try a lot of new stuff?
Depends on the timing. Before an event I break my runs into 4 2-3 trick blocks so I can put them anywhere in the pass, then practice them, and work on the problem tricks. In the off season Derek yells at me to try new stuff so the old faithful trick rarely get done then.
SC: We're running a contest on the site called "Match Zane's Playlist Contest." Can you give readers of this interview one correct answer for the contest?
Motley Crue Girls Girls Girls
SC: If George Bush decided that wakeboarding is a sport predominantly taken up by terrorists and he banned the sport, what would you do with yourself?
MOVE! It would never happen though….I have been through the Middle East and they liked the demos I did so I think they are cool with riding!
SC: I see in some of your pics you’re sporting a knee brace. What’s the story behind that?
Seven knee surgeries. I will always wear one. It’s my safety blanket and support network all in one.
SC: Where is your favorite place to ride?
Any where I’ve not ridden yet. I love Turkey, it’s beautiful. Tahiti was sick too. The crowds in Australia are encouraging and I really just love to get out and try to impress some people. So, where ever there’s a crowd to be entertained!
SC: If you could spend a day wakeboarding with anyone, who would it be?
My family. Travel makes it hard to see them some, so it’d be with them. Other than that I have taken celebs and that’s cool, but nothing is better than watching your bro eat it!
SC: If you could give one piece of advice to little rippers out there that want to make it to the Pros, what would it be?
Be personable. Talk to people and have fun. This is a great opportunity to see the world. It might not yield tons of $$, but the experience of travel is amazing. Do this for yourself too - not for mom & dad. Do it for yourself, for the love of the sport, and always remember to try to get MORE people riding. The more the better for the industry and the sport. Be sincere and train to be the best!
SC: Who are your current sponsors & what board/binding setup do you use?
08 CWB Absolute 141, Zeus Boots, CWB MASTERCRAFT, HINANO, SPY, Napster
SC: Tells us something about Zane that the wakeboarding population doesn't know?
I was in a circus for 7 years as a kid. I did everything from flying trapeze to the teeter board (quad back flip) to riding 12 foot unicycles!
SC: If all the top pro wakeboarders, including yourself, were sent off to take part in Survivor, who do you think would win?
Wow… Rusty… yup he’d win. Most would die of lack of beverages etc. Some of lack of guitar hero etc…
SC: Who would you like to thank?
CWB & MasterCraft for sticking with me through the rough injuries and helping me to create a future. Mom & Dad for their continued support and for getting me into the water sports thing, and most of all my wife, for dealing with me. I can be difficult - thanks Jen!
Sum 44, Jack Johnson
Any Pet Peeves?
Superstitous as hell
Bianca & Lucky
Any….good sushi is nice
Favorite television show?