This interview with Josh Twelker can be found in the May issue of Alliance Wakeboard Magazine…
20 Questions w/ Josh Twelker
by Garrett Cortese
photography by Rodrigo Donoso
In a day and age where cheap talk runs rampant, it is refreshing to find a kid who understands the real value of words. Yes, Josh Twelker is quiet and sometimes reserved, but that is who he is – humble and introspective, rather than brash and egocentric. Get to know him and you will quickly become friends with a laid-back, fun-loving guy who can ride a wakeboard like nobody else on Planet Earth. For the past five years Josh hasn’t said a whole lot vocally, but his riding has been screaming from a mountaintop. It is that riding that has more than made the industry pay attention – Josh has quickly become a favorite to watch amongst many of the sport’s elite and he is one of the only riders we know of to ever have three magazine covers before the age of 21. We figured it was about time we squeezed a few more words out of the Delta local and give you all a chance to start to know him a little better.
1. How was your winter?
JT: I had a pretty sick winter, it’s crazy how warm and dry it’s been. I took about a month off to let my body heal and to take my mind off of what I do every day. I spent a lot of time in the gym just trying to stay strong and light for this season. I always feel so much more motivated after a solid break. The weather has made it easier to ride, but water temps still got down to mid 40’s so not quite Orlando easy (laughs).
2. On a scale of 1-10 how awkward does it feel to do interviews?
JT: Usually somewhere from a 5-10 (laughs). Interviews can definitely be an awkward experience for me. The most awkward interviews are the times when a videographer has his wide angle lens inches from my face expecting me to say something he will use. Those situations usually hit the peak of my awkwardness.
3. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen while riding through all the sloughs of the Delta?
JT: The Delta in the summer can get pretty crazy. The craziest thing that happened recently was this: I was riding, and we came around a corner where two fishermen had capsized their small boat. They were legitimately drowning. Neither of them could swim. I edged over to them and threw one of them my vest. I quickly took off my board and helped the other guy over to our swim platform. Good deed for the day, I guess.
4. Did blowing your knee change the way you approach your riding?
JT: When I first came back from my knee injury, it probably changed the way I rode a little bit. Now though, I feel like I’m pushing my riding as hard as ever. I had a great surgeon, I rehabbed hard, and now I don’t think about it much. If I’m going to accomplish the things that I want to accomplish, I can’t let an injury hold me back.
5. What do you think makes your riding unique or different from other riders?
JT: I don’t really like comparing myself to other riders, but doing things a little bit differently from the pack is something I’m always working on. I’m always thinking of ways to make even basic tricks look smooth or unique. I’m a very picky person about my riding so if a trick isn’t looking the way I envisioned, it will bother me until I get it just right.
6. What motivates you as a rider?
JT: Coffee! (laughs)
7. Would you rather win a PWT title or a Video Section of the Year?
JT: That’s a tough question. Both are really big accomplishments. I think the fastest track to recognition in this sport is to win tournaments. But to define myself the way that I would like to be defined in wakeboarding, I think winning Video Section of the Year would be a pretty high achievement.
8. How has it been filming for some full length videos? What are you most excited about for the videos?
JT: It’s been so cool being a part of the three videos Quiet Please, Prime, and Al Sur. It’s also been a bit stressful giving quality footage to all three video productions. Some of the best times I’ve had riding all last year were shooting for them though. I had a couple of insane trips to Mexico with Trever Maur and got to do my first helicopter shoot. All of the guys that are a part of these videos have so much passion for the sport, and it’s just so cool to be a part of that.
9. What are the best and worst things about living/riding on the Delta?
JT: The best things are riding on weekdays, riding with the Delta Force crew, having Rodrigo live in my town, 1,000 miles of waterways, great fishing, great friends, and just a really cool vibe that every wakeboarder should experience sometime in their life. The worst things are spring winds, people wakesurfing or tubing down the only slough that’s not blown out, and weekend boat traffic.
10. Do you find it harder to stay relevant in the “scene” not being in Orlando?
JT: Yes and no. Living 3,000 miles away from the “scene” is a blessing and a curse, I guess. In one way, it has created opportunity for me, because there aren’t too many people here pursuing wakeboarding as hard as I am. On the other hand, Orlando is the center of the sport, and a lot happens there that I just can’t be a part of. Overall though I think being a West Coast rider has been a positive for my career. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the influence of the people I’ve grown up riding with.
11. Your dad has been a big supporter of yours and travels with you a lot, but do you ever just want to take off on your own?
JT: My dad has been a huge supporter for sure. He has traveled with me to almost every tournament since I started riding the Junior Tour. It’s become something that we just do together. I appreciate his help with a lot of the logistics of the travel and with helping me set up my tournament runs. The travel schedule is looking pretty crazy this year, so I’m pretty sure he won’t be making it to all of the events that I’ll be competing in.
12. What’s your favorite trick to do right now?
JT: I’ve been having a lot of fun doing wrapped spins lately. Mostly wrapped toeside backside stuff.
13. If you weren’t a wakeboarder what would you be?
JT: I’ve always enjoyed skating or snowboarding so I would probably be pursuing those. Anything to avoid a real job (laughs). Seriously though, I feel pretty blessed to be able to do what I do.
14. Being in the same group as guys like Harley and Dowdy do you feel pressure to do double flips or add rotations to tricks in order to “keep up” with them?
JT: I’ve ridden with Dowdy quite a bit, and there is no question that riding with someone who goes for it pushes me, too; and that’s a good thing. I hope that my riding inspires some of the guys that I ride with, too. It’s not really needing to “keep up,” but more just pushing each other to be the best we can be.
15. It seems like some of the riders in your generation don’t hit double ups as much as previous generations. Do you think that’s coincidence? Do you like hitting them?
JT: I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the wakes are so big. Tricks that could only be done off double ups previously are much easier to do wake-to-wake now. But I’m planning on working on hitting double ups this year. I’ve never put a lot of effort into getting really good at hitting them before. Riding with Derek Cook gives me inspiration for what can be done creatively off of a double up though, so I’m excited to push that aspect of my riding.
16. Who is your favorite rider to watch ride today?
JT: The first person that comes to mind is Randall. There are so many guys out there I could have named that inspire me also, but watching Randall ride is different than anything else in wakeboarding. Words can’t do his riding justice.
17. Is there any rider you’ve never gotten a chance to ride with that you would really like to?
JT: I’ve never gotten the chance to ride with Raph. I think he is one of the most talented riders right now. He obviously kills it in all aspects of wakeboarding, and his style is sick. It would be fun to ride with him on the boat.
18. You’re most well known for your boat skills, but what’s your take on park riding?
JT: I like riding in the park a lot. Until recently I haven’t had much access to any cable park. Fortunately, Wake Island opened up and it’s only 90 minutes from Disco. Pretty soon Velocity is opening, and it will be a CWB park, so I’m super stoked about that. I definitely intend to spend more time riding cable, because it is becoming a bigger and more important part of the sport.
19. What’s worse: a nuclear whirlybird or a two-handed crow 5?
JT: I’m going to go with the two-handed no-grab crow 5.
20. Your 21st birthday is coming up, got any plans?
JT: Brews with the bros – I’ll probably keep it pretty simple (laughs).
21. Who would you like to thank?
JT: Thanks to my sponsors: CWB, Nautique, Fox, Body Glove,boardco.com, and Liquid Trends/Exile Audio. I would also like to thank my parents for making it possible for me to do this sport and my brother Jeremy for pulling me around the Delta all day.