ENDLESS WAVE – KEENAN FLEGEL
What got you started and how long have you been wakesurfing?
I started wakeboarding before wakesurfing, when I was six years old and competed on the Gravel Tour at OWC for a few years before my coach Dean Lavelle suggested I try wakesurfing when I was 9 or 10. I gave up wakeboarding for wakesurfing that same day. I’m 21 currently, so I’ve been wakesurfing for about 11 years.
What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
I like to always keep it fresh with something new. I have the most fun and ride at my best when I’m trying to learn an entirely new motion rather than repeat a familiar one. My coach Dean Lavelle told me 100 times “explore everything that is uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable.” Whenever possible, I try to ride with other riders that will push me.
You compete in both surf and skim style do you prefer one over the other and why?
I enjoy them both equally for different reasons. Skim style is more technical and in my opinion and has more room for creativity where surf style is more about power and style. I will ride one or the other on a day of free riding depending on my mood.
What would be your ultimate achievement?
My greatest achievement in competitive wakesurfing was an undefeated season in both the surf and skim divisions including the World Championships in 2014. The goal going forward is to stay at the forefront of progression and to share the joy of wakesurfing with as many people as I can.
What is your biggest challenge and what do you do to manage this challenge?
The biggest challenge I have had in my wakesurfing career has been the mental aspect of competing. I have had some anxiety around the major events. I have read some books about mental strength for competing athletes and done what I can to eliminate other sources of stress during the heat of the season.
Your brother Noah is a pretty damn good wakeboarder do you ever lace up the bindings?
I like to take a couple laps around the cable park every once in a while but that’s about it. I haven’t wakeboarded behind a boat in years.
Like all sports there becomes a redundancy, where do you draw your inspiration from to stay motivated and progress the sport?
I try to avoid redundancy by always working on something new. A couple of huge doors that I have opened to keep progressing have been, riding both surf and skim, riding switch, and riding backside.
You’ve been with Inland Surfer since the beginning of your career, how have they helped shape your path?
It was my dream as a little kid to get sponsored by Inland Surfer and that happened when I met Jeff Page at the World Championships in 2007. He sponsored me immediately. Inland has given me the creative freedom to design my products from the time I was 14 years old and taught me a lot about the business side of things.
How has the brother rivalry helped or hindered you?
I would say both. It messes with my head at times, but at the end of the day, we are always happy for each other. It pushes both of us more than any of our other competitors. It’s also convenient to have someone of equal skill level to train with.
What was the best advice you have been given?
“Bend your knees!” -Mom