Anna Nikstad – The First Issue Cover Interview

Photo: Bryan Soderlind

Hey Anna!

First, Congratulations on winning Rider of the Year! I’m really happy for you!
Thank you! Still so crazy when I think about it.
A lot of people probably already know your story, but with the first women’s print magazine we want to know all of you!
For sure, I’d love to share.

How did you start wakeboarding?
Well, I learned to stand up behind a boat when I was 7 but didn’t touch it again until I was 18 years old when I first found out about a wake park in my home city. After I started riding cable with my brother, Erik, there really was no turning back. Wakeboarding became the love of my life and we’ve been happy ever since. Haha.

Have you thought about what you`re going to do after wakeboarding?
I plan to wakeboard until either my body says no or I stop having fun. Afterward, I would like to gracefully transition to a more behind-the-scenes spot in the industry, but I’m a long way from that. I’d like to keep myself busy, so I’m sure it won’t be the only industry I’m involved in. I like to work with animals and studied biology in college, so I’ll give that some attention when the time comes.

How did you manage wakeboarding before you turned pro?
When I first started following the Pro Tour, I was a struggling athlete, and I would spend my off-season working three jobs to be able to save enough money for the first few months of the season. I would bartend and waitress at two different sports bars and then had an 8 am-5 pm receptionist job during the week. I was easily working 13 or 14 hour days to be able to support myself and follow my dreams. After that money would run out, it was really just up to me to do well at contests, work for rides at various wake parks around the world, do lessons, or even flip burgers if I had to. I was so determined to make it and now I can actually just focus my full attention on my craft, so the hard times definitely paid off in the end.

When did you start competing and what are your best results?
I started competing in 2017. I’ve won a couple of the pro stops including Plastic Playgrounds, LAO, 3 year US National Title, and I have won the World Championships twice.

Did you ever dream about being rider of the year?
I definitely dreamed about it, but never fully thought I would actually get both Readers Poll and ROTY and the industry vote for female ROTY, so that was a huge surprise. I can’t thank everyone enough for giving me such an honor. It has been the most motivating accomplishment I have received. Thank you all again!

Do you have a favorite cable in the world?
My favorite wake park is CWC in the Philippines. Other honorable mentions are VWC and Westrock Wake Park.

Photo: Bryan Soderlind

Is boating still a thing in your life?
Nah, I have already had my run-in with knee problems, so I’m good.

When I’m not Wakeboarding then?
I love to wakeskate, skateboard, surf, and do pretty much anything that would include working with my hands, painting, or animals.

When I’m cooking for myself, it’s most of the time?
A veggie pasta. You can really never go wrong with that.

Okey back to business hehe. I saw you judging in competitions. How did that happen and how does it work when you are also part of the competition?

That’s actually a funny story. Tom Fooshee first introduced me to judging with the Liquid Force Park Pro Tour that happened two years ago.
According to him, I was the first-ever female to judge the Pro Men’s divisions. After the Park Pro Tour, I went on to Head Judge the Swedish Nationals for boat and cable. I also judged for Plastic Playgrounds, US Nationals, as well as, the WWA Wake Park World Championships judging the Pro Men’s divisions. It was never my intention to become a judge, but the fact that I have been continually trusted by multiple wakeboarding associations with such a sensitive job is really so flattering and it gave me a newfound confidence in myself. I will forever be grateful for having been given the opportunity to represent women on the Judges’ Panel. I am all about pioneering this sport, so that was neat.

However, it’s a whole other story when it comes to riding and judging in the same contest. I have to stay mentally focused and have learned to “turn off” my judge’s thinking cap and just do what I came there to do, but it is hard. I will give myself a score and I am a pretty tough judge to please, so I don’t ever feel like I am fully happy with my runs. It is also such a mind game when you mess up part of your run because you know what kind of deduction you get for it. Just another one of those things to challenge myself.

Did you always ride for Liquid Force?
I have always looked up to Liquid Force as a company and team, but I didn’t always ride for them. I feel like LF and I are a perfect match though.

However, before LF and I partnered up, I actually rode a LF board that I had painted my own “graphics” on! I was secretly on LF before they knew me. Haha.

You have a dog and you found him in the Phillies, am I right? How did it all happen and how do you feel about it?
About 5 years ago, some friends of mine and I found baby Kana at a bike shop near CWC and decided to take her in.
At the time, it was my friend’s responsibility to take care of Kana and I had a little puppy named Naga. I found a home for both Kana and Naga when I left but always kept up with them through the lady who was caring for them.
When I came back to CWC a few months later, I took Kana back (Naga had puppies of her own, so I couldn’t separate them). After that she became mine and we have been besties ever since. It took me a couple of years to line up Kana coming to America and finally, the time was right last year. I am so happy I have her now. I think Kana was the main reason I would live so long at CWC. Leaving her back with my good friend, Shayne, when I had to go home was always so hard. I’m so thankful I have her now.

Photo: Bryan Soderlind

So you have been in the wakeboarding scene for quite a long time. Is there any funny or embarrassing story that crosses your mind in all those years?

I would probably say getting to spend time at CWC and filming with Chris Hopf has always been a fond memory. Winning my first pro contest with a DIY “pro model” board was cool.
I was definitely feeling the underdog vibes then.
An embarrassing time was when I first got to shoot with Bryan Soderlind, aka Bear, at a Munich Mash. Beforehand, I was confused thinking Bear and Bryan were two different people. It turns out they weren’t and I sent a very funny email excited about getting to shoot with both Bryan AND Bear!! Woo-hoo!!

I see a lot of different art in your stories. Were you always connected to art?
Yes, I have this annoyingly overactive creative mind, so I have to paint and create when I am not wakeboarding. I have stacks on stacks of painted canvases at home in my garage. Painting has been something I have done my entire life and is probably my most consistent hobby.

What is your favorite kind of art?
It’s hard to choose any favorites because I feel my pallet is so broad. Acrylics, watercolor, pour paint, sometimes oil, and also pottery is super fun too, but really difficult. I have a pottery wheel and a sewing machine so when I get bored of painting I go to either of these outlets.

I saw that you are living in Texas now. Living the dream in Texas or where do you see yourself in the future? Any plans?
Yes, Texas is home and probably always will be my base. Besides that, I will go wherever I am needed.

Women Wakeboarding …
I am freaking amped on women in wakeboarding. The progression has been through the roof and I love seeing all the girls out there having fun and pushing themselves.

I want to shout out to the VIRAGANG!!!!! YOU GUYS KEEP ME INSPIRED AND I LOVE YOU ALL!! GANG GANG GANG

Any words for the cats out there?
Don’t take no for an answer and send it!!!!

Photo: Bryan Soderlind

The Cover Story

“Sina (the mastermind behind all of this) hit me up and invited me to come to shoot with her and Bear at Valdosta for the first print edition of copycatsclub. I was so down and booked flights asap. Unfortunately, Texas’s weather decided to blizzard so we canceled our plans. Sina left to go back home to Germany but I really didn’t want to give up so easily. 2 weeks later, Bear and I got together at VWC and chose to shoot on this salvaged propane tank the crew had previously found. After giving it a quick copycats club paint job, Bear and I went to work. This was a challenging rail to hit because it was pretty sticky and we figured out that it needed more wax after every hit. After battling with it for a good majority of the day, we were able to surprise Sina with some epic shots of our efforts. I’m so thankful that I got to be part of this!”

-Anna Nikstad