Wakeboarding's the new rage

Waterskiing has long been the sport of choice for watersports enthusiasts on Lake Pend Oreille, but the old favorite may be shoved aside for wakeboarding, the new rave.

It all began as "skurfing," combining the principles of skiing plus surfing. It's since evolved to be called wakeboarding, using a miniature surfboard with a couple of straps to hold your feet. The wake boarder is pulled behind a powerboat, just like a water skier, and surfs the wake.

A pair of shops in Sandpoint offer wakeboarding gear and advice: Alpine Shop, 213 Church, and Ground Zero, 317 First.

Shawn Taylor and Todd Sayre, owners of Ground Zero, are both heavy into this rapidly-growing watersport. Aside from selling wakeboards, they use a company boat to introduce those interested in trying the new thrill.

For beginners, the sport can be quite frustrating. Like waterskiing, the biggest challenge is getting up. Sayre recollects the frustrations of his first time. "It took about 12 pulls before I made it out of the water," he said. But from then on, it was smooth sailing, and he found it to be addicting.

Nate Holland, 18, of Sandpoint, has taken his pursuit of wakeboarding a bit further. He's sponsored by Neptune, a large wakeboard manufacturer, and spends a lot of time high above the wake, pulling off mind-blowing aerials. Teenagers are attracted to the "big air" and snowboarding-like qualities of wakeboarding.

Wakeboarding on Lake Pend Oreille is becoming more frequent; with the developments in design and lower retail cost, it could be like the snowboard revolution.

­ Michael Delucchi

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