2019 Rider of the Year: Massi Piffaretti
2019 Rider of the Year: Massi Piffaretti
The world of wakeboarding is a big place, with riders spanning the entire globe. But the community of wakeboarding is so tight knit that it feels much smaller than it truly is. Regardless of background, language, ability or anything else, when wakeboarders are together, they share a common experience and bond. It’s an immediate and effortless friendship. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the presence of our 2019 Rider of the Year, Massi Piffaretti. He might hail from Lake Como, Italy, but if you ever have the chance to meet him, you’d swear he was an old friend that you hadn’t seen in ages. Known to belt out some beautiful operatic verses at any given time, a sucker for FaceTiming anyone and everyone all hours of the day, and in possession of an absolutely infectious energy that can’t be contained, Massi is known far and wide as having one of the most off-the-wall personalities in wakeboarding and it shines through most when he’s on the water. His ability to see things possible on a wakeboard that most could never even fathom is uncanny, like him. Luckily for us, we got to see a lot of that progression first-hand and that helped to make our decision to pass the ROTY crown to none other than, as Erik Ruck would say, “The Pizza Boy Himself.”
The story of Massi’s climb to the ROTY peak is nothing short of amazing. In mid 2018, he went down with an ACL injury. Everyone knows that’s a pretty common injury, but a serious one nonetheless, that some never come back from fully. With a six-month road to recovery after surgery, Massi was not too stoked for the upcoming 2019 season. Can you blame him? Anyone who has been through ACL reconstruction knows how tricky and exhausting (both mentally and physically) it is, and there’s a ton of work to be done to get your riding back to 100%. Having never been through knee surgery before, the future didn’t seem as bright for the Pizza Boy anymore. But Massi isn’t one to just roll over when life gets tough. He put his head down and got to work and slowly but surely, he was back on his board. His persistence to not only get back to his level of riding but to push it even farther out of his comfort zone played a big part in our decision. Not only that but he was all over the map this year, shredding his face off and spreading the stoke of wakeboarding to every man, woman, and child in his path. There aren’t too many people that can come close to matching Massi’s hype and wakeboarding is a better place with him in it. Congrats again on a stellar year Massi!
“Every time I watch him ride, I’m like ‘What the f**k was that?!’ It really fires me up to ride…later…because no one wants to ride RIGHT after Massi!”
Alliance: Pizza Boy! Congratulations on taking the title of 2019 Rider Of The Year! How does it feel?!
Massi: Hey guys! Thank you so much! I’m frothing right now! It really feels amazing. It has always been a dream of mine to be nominated as Alliance Rider of the Year, and I can’t believe that it’s now a reality! So many riders I respect have gotten this award and to now be a part of that list is such a huge deal for me and my family! Grazie!
A: You fought back from a knee injury to have one of your best, if not the best, year you’ve ever had. What are some of your personal highlights from 2019?
M: Yes, coming back from my knee injury was definitely not easy. It’s a pretty common thing that happens in our sport so I’m sure all riders can relate to my struggle and what I went through in that time off the water, but luckily I had family and friends close to me throughout the whole process that helped me along and when I strapped back into my board, I realized how much I love the sport and how much fun I have on a board no matter where I am. Boat, cable, and winch! This season definitely was special to me because I was able to do everything that I wanted. I had a nice balance between contests, film trips and adventures, so I would say that 2019 was lit and the whole year has been a highlight!
A: You were at home with the family in Italy when you got the news. Everybody that knows you knows that you and your family are super tight. How stoked were they to hear the good news?
M: I was actually on the way home from the airport after a surf trip when I got the news and throughout the call with you guys, I was trying to figure out how to tell my parents about it. I ended up calling them before I even got home because I was so excited and by the time I arrived at my house, it was already full with uncles cousins etc … ready to eat some pizza and drink some wine! *laughs*
A: We’re sure more than a few bottles of wine were consumed that night … how was the celebration with the family?!
L: Oh yeah, the cantina had more than five bottles missing the next day *laughs*! Most of my family lives in one building so we all had dinner together at my spot and stayed up till Pops and the uncles were falling asleep at the table *laughs*. Classic!
A: You were able to come up with a lot of different rewind variations that really pushed it behind the boat this year. Did inspiration for those come from anywhere in particular or did they just happen?
M: Honestly man, this year I’ve been riding with some of the younger crew on the boat and I love seeing the boys mixing it up and trying to be different than the rest of the guys. I’d say that gave me so many fresh ideas and put a fire under my ass to keep up! Also, not riding for a long time gets your brain thinking!
A: Not only did you kill it behind the boat this year, you had some awesome hits in arguably the best winch edit of the year: Unlocking the Netherlands. Tell us about that trip. It was a solid crew so it must have been a good time.
M: Yeah, huge shout to the homie Maxim van Helvoort for organizing the trip and being a great host around his home country. We had such an epic crew with the sickest set up in a city that was just the perfect winch playground! Most of the spots were marked before we got there so everyday was a different mission for 2 weeks. With five riders, it’s hard to move fast in order for everyone to get clips but from the first day, the whole crew was amped and we got it done. Everyone was helping out at the spots and that got all the boys stoked on pushing each other! Something that I thought brought the crew together even more was helping Antoine Allaux with some of the second angles for the video. At the end of the day, I think that’s a trip that I’ll never forget. Especially because the whole 2 weeks my heart was pumping adrenaline sizing up all the crazy spots!
“I remember hearing about Massi from Mike Ferraro in the early days of Lake Ronix, around 2013, if I remember correctly. Mike was showing me pictures and videos of this kid from Lake Como and we were all blown away. I remember Mike saying, ‘Just wait ‘til you meet him. He’s a real character.’ Needless to say, that was a massive understatement.”
– Erik Ruck
A: Aside from your insane riding, spreading the stoke is a huge part of ROTY and you do that with more enthusiasm than most and we love it. How do you keep your passion for wakeboarding burning so bright?
M: Wow, that’s an amazing question! You know since the very first time I stepped on a board, I knew that wakeboarding was what I was going to do in the future no matter what. I try to live my life like that kid from Lake Como with that f*cked up English accent that is still in me knowing that we are all in this together. So, I want to be remembered as someone that has done something positive and bright in the sport!
A: Which riders have influenced or inspired you over the last year? How about over your career?
M: Over the years, I’ve been inspired by so many riders from the boat, cable and winch, but I always try to surround myself with positive people. There is not one rider/person that doesn’t inspire me honestly. I take little things from everyone and try to build the person that I am and who I want to be.
A: With all the traveling you do, it’s probably pretty hard to pick a favorite trip or spot from the past year but if you had to choose, what would it be?
M: The North Florida Loop trip was absolutely one of the best for sure. The crew was epic (myself, Brian Grubb, Parks Bonifay, Nick Taylor, Bryan Soderlind and Erik Ruck) and on top of that, we did five days of traveling on our boats from the St. John’s River, through the intercostal, and all the way to Titusville. Along our travels, we saw an insane amount of wildlife mixed with awesome memories that I will never forget!
A: With this title in your bag now, what kind of plans are on the horizon for 2020?
M: For 2020, I’m hoping to have another healthy year full of fun trips and projects. Not only that but I want to shred with as many people who are stoked on wakeboarding that I can.
“In the world of wakeboarding, there are many different types of personalities as well as many talented athletes. Every now and again, someone comes into the sport that changes it in a way that is truly unforgettable. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing a few of these guys growing up. Randall Harris, Parks Bonifay, Danny Harf, Scott Byerly to name a few. There are definitely others but over the 15+ years that I’ve shot the sport of wakeboarding, it may take a while to list them all. My point being that although there is a bunch of talent and even more awesome personalities, there aren’t many that leave a dent on the sport not just because of talent but because of the overall effect that they leave on the ones they meet. Massi Piffaretti is most definitely one of those guys. He’s a flat out stud on and off the water and couldn’t be a more genuine human being. He’s always stoked to shoot but even more important is that he makes you feel the love right out of the gate. Those are the people that I get stoked to shoot with. In the end, it makes all the difference in the world. You want to work harder and produce your best work for individuals like that. The wake industry is a better place because of Massi. He deserves the ROTY crown.”
– Rodrigo Donoso
A: Now, the burning question that’s on everyone’s minds and you can thank Parks for exposing this but do you really put ranch on your pizza? That doesn’t seem like a very Italian thing to do …
M: Oh God! He sold me out. I do put ranch on my pizza in America because it’s not as good as Italian pizza and the flavor covers up the shitty pizza taste *laughs*. But if it’s a nice Italian pizza, no way!
A: Well congrats again Pizza Boy. Is there anything special you’d like to leave us with? Shout outs? Let’s hear it.
M: Thank you guys again! I’m absolutely stoked! Huge shout out to my family, friends, sponsors, and all the OG’s! Parks, Grubb, Danny, Chad, Watson, Ruck, Paul, Gunner and the list goes on and on but without those guys, I would never be where I am now. They welcomed me into their homes and gave me so much advice over the years that helped make me into the person I am today. And to my mom, Mirina, and my father, Tiziano, this is for you guys! Thank you for always believing in me!
“Some would say the best rider is the one having the most fun. In Massi’s case, he is always the one having the most fun and it definitely helps that he’s freakishly talented in all aspects of wakeboarding. I’ve known Massi for a while now and have watched him grow into an amazing athlete, thoughtful human and overall purveyor of stoke. This year especially, he pushed his riding to a high level even after coming off a knee injury in 2018. He worked hard off the water, in the gym, and mentally to get that confidence back. He won the World Beach Games in Qatar, ended up on other podiums, filmed some great parts in North Florida Loop and Unlocking the Netherlands, and had tons of solid photos throughout the year. Massi is a very technical and stylish rider and does everything his own way, whether it’s on the cable, boat, or winch. You never know what he’s got up his sleeve and that keeps things exciting which is awesome for wake. This year the Pizza Boy gets my vote for ROTY and he definitely earned it. Congrats Massi!”
– Brian Grubb