Erika Lang can look back at 2019 with lots of pride. It’s every athlete’s goal to become a professional and Erika has done that in 4 different disciplines and has excelled in each one. She competes against the best in the world in wakeboarding, slalom, trick and jump and is usually in contention for a podium spot wherever she goes. Needless to say, her gear bag is the fullest of anyone in watersports.
One of the biggest challenges about being a pro in so many areas is balancing it all. Erika’s training schedule is extremely regimented, something she’s spent her whole life focusing on. If there’s one thing we can say, Erika has defined what it means to be a professional athlete on and off the water. With another trick skiing World Record under her belt in 2019 and a list of accomplishments along the way, she’s had another incredible year on the water. We caught up with her to chat about what it’s like to be in her shoes.
Congrats on an amazing season Erika! You’ve had a busy year, what have been some of the highlights?
Thank you so much! This season has by far been the most successful season in my career. A few of the highlights this past year have been making the podium in both Trick and Wake at the Moomba Masters, winning Tricks at the Masters as well as taking 3rd in the wakeboard division, placing 3rd at the WWA Wakeboard Worlds, and breaking the Women’s Trick World Record and being the first women over 11,000 points with a score of 11,260. I’m so happy that everything has been coming together, and I’m looking forward to the 2020 season.
Considering all the disciplines and events you attend, how do you train at home? What’s a regular week look like for you?
Balancing training time between ski and wake can sometimes be difficult but I’ve now figured out a routine that works great. I usually alternate days either training for Trick one day and then Wake the next except for times when I’m training for an event that has both disciplines such as the Masters and Moomba Masters. Along with on the water training I also go to the gym each day as well.
With a G23 in your backyard, what’s it like having that wake at your fingertips every day?
Having a G23 to train behind every day has helped my riding improve so much this year. The wake is so big and consistent which has made it so easy to learn new tricks and perfect old ones. The G23 also pulls most of the contests on the tour so being able to train behind the same boat that pulls the tour has been so helpful.
What are some of your favorite things about the G?
The G23 is by far my favorite boat to ride behind. The wake is so big and the pop is always consistent which is so nice when learning new tricks. All of my tricks feel effortless and the landings are always so smooth as well. The G23 has taken not only my wakeboarding to the next level but so many other riders as well.
You also spend a lot of time behind the Ski Nautique, what has that done for your skiing?
Yes, I also spend a ton of time training behind the Ski Nautique. This boat has completely changed the game of waterskiing as the wakes on the Ski Nautique are unmatched. The boat has elevated my Trick Skiing ability to a completely different level. Since the boat was released I have learned new tricks and have been able to complete my run faster than ever before. All of these improvements in my run are what helped me break the 11,000-point barrier.
What are some of the differences or favorite features you like with the Ski Nautique?
The Ski Nautique has so many amazing new features that have taken waterskiing to the next level. My favorite feature on the Ski Nautique is the newly designed shape of the wake. The boat now has a ballast system and setting options to customize to each skier’s exact preferences. This wake technology is unmatched and it’s amazing to see how much the level has already improved since the release of this new boat.
What kind of fundamentals carry over from trick skiing to wakeboarding?
The basic fundamentals such as rope control, edge control, and air awareness definitely carry over from trick skiing to wakeboarding. Having all of those basics already ingrained in my body allowed me to pick up wakeboarding super quickly. I was also a level 10 gymnast growing up, so I think that was a major component as well. The air awareness, strength, and body awareness that I gained from gymnastics has been a key role in both my trick skiing and wakeboarding success.
How much do they differ?
Even though I have been able to utilize a lot of the fundamentals that I learned on the trick ski to the wakeboard, the two are also very different as well. I would say that in a way the two disciplines are as different from each other as Trick is from Jump or Slalom. They require a completely different approach and mindset as well. When tricking I try to be very calm, collected, and precise whereas when wakeboarding my adrenaline kicks in and my mind set is less about making every trick perfect and credit and much more about going big and making every trick look good. Also, even though the fundamentals are very similar there have been a few changes I’ve had to make while riding a wakeboard versus when I’m on my trick ski. Since the wake size is so different, the way in which I use the wake is different as well. On the wakeboard I mainly use the wake as my source of pop whereas on the trick ski I use a lot more line tension.
What’s your favorite wakeboard and trick ski trick?
My favorite wakeboard trick is my Nose Grab Front Flip and my favorite trick ski trick is my Back to Front Front Flip which is a front flip starting in the back position.
As the ultimate watersports crossover athlete, are there any other activities you do aside from this to keep you in shape?
Aside from skiing and wakeboarding I also love to snow ski and snowboard in the off-season. I feel that they crossover a little bit as well and I’m able to take some of my skills from the water to the snow. And another activity that I enjoy all year round is working out in the gym. I not only enjoy it, but it also helps a ton in keeping me strong and in shape for when I’m on the water.
With a busy and well accomplished season like you’ve had, how will you spend your off-season?
I spent the first part of the off-season taking a little bit of a break to rejuvenate from the season but then getting back into training again in order to prepare for the 2020 season. I love training in the off-season because it’s a lot more laid back and less competition run oriented. I can’t wait to start working on some new tricks on both my trick ski and wakeboard and I’m excited to see how far I can push myself in both disciplines going forward.