Pro Chat: Lex Balladon

We caught up with the UK pro wakeboarder to chat making the switch from snowboarding, the UK scene and her plans to get more girls into the sport

Interview by Sam Haddad

When did you first wakeboard and how did it feel?
I first tried wakeboarding when the cable was built at Willen Lake (now called WakeMK), I think it was 2003, so nearly ten years ago! I was very lucky it happened because I had always wanted to try waterskiing, when I didn’t know what wakeboarding was, but my family are 100 per cent not into water sports at all. Once I mastered the cable, floating on top of the water felt amazing – I was hooked.

Did you get good pretty quickly?
NO!  Haha!  It took me a whole summer to get around the cable, I sucked so bad!  I really had a lot of trouble getting off the dock, I could only do a jump start for the first year because of my snowboarding background, I didn’t learn to seat start for ages!

When did you get hooked up with sponsors?
I got my first sponsor in 2008, which was a board sponsor. They taught me how to develop as a rider and so after that the sponsors just kept coming!

Was it always cable rather than boat for you?
Yeah, I love the park style of it, the kickers and sliders… I rode boat in California for a year, which was really fun, but I’m a cable girl at heart. I would love to ride more boat but it’s quite expensive compared to cable, so it’s more of a one off treat. However I’ve been wakesurfing a fair amount recently which I do behind the boat at the Quays – if you haven’t tried it you should, it’s the funnest thing! Haha.

Which female wakeboarders do you admire?
I admire anyone with a positive and friendly attitude around them. I ride with Steph Caller and Sarah Kingdom which is always fun!  I have ridden with Maxine Sapulette before and she just ups your level so much, she is a sick rider. And obviously the Yankie riders like Amber Wing and Nicola Butler…

What’s your favourite trick?
I’m loving the right foot forward backroll (on my switch side) at the moment… and anything slider based.

Do you do any other boardsports? 
Yep! Snowboarding was my first boardsport, I lived and worked in the fridge at MK, I couldn’t get enough! I started surfing in 2006 and haven’t looked back. Every trip I go on revolves around finding waves, last year I did Portugal, France and South Africa, this year I’ve been to Portugal and am heading to Hawaii!! I’ve got into wakesurfing this winter as it’s a natural crossover from wake and surf.

Do you think that makes it easier when first trying wakeboard?
Yes and no. Yes because you already have the muscle memory, like when I started, once I got off the dock I was fine straight away because of snowboording, well until I got to the corner! And no, because everyone is built differently and some have a natural ability and just ‘get it’.

You organise some wakeboard events in the UK, tell us about that?
I organise Ladies Mornings at WakeMK and am involved in the ones at Box End Park. I think it’s fun to just have girls on the dock. If you take boys out of the equation and replace it with a fun sport, it seems to strip everyone of any tension and cattiness that can happen in large groups of girls. What you get is an excited group of girls all whooping and pushing each other, it’s really fun and good to see and no one cares about their hair or makeup. My sponsors help me out with prizes so I can reward the girls for learning a new trick or taking a brilliant stack. Also this winter, I organised a surf trip for a group of riders, which included Steph Caller, Sarah Kingdom, Jules Haley, Sophie Cordrey, and Tor Young. It was called WakeGirlsGo…Surfing. It turned out to be an epic weekend! Since then we have done WakeGirlsGo…Flowriding, and we have more events in the pipeline.

Can you make a decent living as a pro wakeboarder in this country?
Honestly? No, not as a girl. There are only a handful of boys from the UK who are doing this! The sport needs to be bigger here. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the UK and new cables and system 2.0′s are popping up all over which is fantastic, but the sport doesn’t get the coverage it needs. It’s slowly getting more media coverage, it just needs to continue. I could go on and on about this… Cable wakeboarding is up for nomination to be in the 2020 Olympics, it would be amazing for the sport if it got in!

Tying into that how can we get more girls into wakeboarding in this country?
Just keep going with what’s already being done! Keep promoting the sport in mags such as Cooler because the girls reading are already into at least one boardsport, so they would probably be keen to try another one. Keep doing Ladies Mornings, making them fun and making sure people have a good time so they tell their friends; word of mouth is priceless. I am helping my friend, Jules Haley, at her Girls Ride Day which is being advertised through all the social media streams, so hopefully that will get a few new girls interested. Let girls know about Wide-A-Wake.com, the only UK girls wakeboard website. Crazy I know but maybe further down the line there might be a girly movie like Blue Crush and Chalet Girl but with wakeboarding, just make sure its filmed somewhere hot!  Then it would become more mainstream and so more girls would get involved.

What events will you be at this summer?
I started the season with the London Boat Show which was so much fun!  Competition wise I rode in the Spring into Season comp at JB where I claimed 2nd place.  I’ll be at the Nationals in July as well as the Summer Jam at WakeMK. Sponsor wise I will be at Oceanfest and Boardmasters, the opening weekend at Fest Wake in Essex, the Girls Ride Day at the Quays and I also have some shoots lined up. And of course I’ll be at my Ladies Mornings!  I’m gutted I won’t be at Wakestock this year but I wasn’t going to miss out on Hawaii!

Lex is sponsored by Nalu Beads, Hyperlite, Mystic, WakeMK, Two Seasons, Kurup Fit, and Dragon. For more on Lex head to lexballadon.co.uk

  1. james saunders

    Send me you email and i will give you a few vids for the wakemk blog

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