Jun 282005
Authors: Brett Okamoto

If your beach activities so far this summer have been limited to baking yourself on the beach or swimming 50 feet off the coast surrounded by middle school kids at their birthday party, maybe it's time to consider other alternatives.

A water sport that is gaining major popularity in Northern Colorado, especially among the college age group, is wakeboarding.

For the dedicated "winter people," wakeboarding translates to snowboarding behind a boat. However, more Coloradoans than ever are now considering wakeboarding their primary extreme sport.

Brian Niswender, 30, has been wakeboarding for seven years and acts as the resident expert at Gart Sports, 425 S. College Ave. Niswender says he's seen a dramatic increase in interest on wakeboards over the past few years.

"It's just like snowboarding – once you do it you're hooked," says Niswender. "I have lots of people coming in asking for specific models now, where it used to be people would see one hanging up and ask, 'What's that?'".

Chad Eusea, 29, bought his boat two years ago to satisfy his addiction to fishing but decided to start using it to wakeboard this summer.

"I had done everything you can do on a board except wakeboarding," says Eusea on his decision to spend $600 on equipment this year to try it out. "It was natural. When I saw it I had to learn."

Eusea, a father of two, admits that his boat has done its share of pulling tubes this summer, but that you won't find him in anything inflatable. For a long-time extreme sports fan, if you can't progress and learn new tricks on it, then it's not worth riding.

"Progression," says Eusea on his favorite part about his new summer hobby. "I love seeing somebody or myself do something they couldn't do before."

Eusea found the technique of wakeboarding easy to pick up, somewhat due to his experience in skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding. Although he only started in the beginning of June, Eusea can already ride switch (ride with your unnatural foot forward), carve effortlessly and manage to stick a few jumps off the wake.

Even without background knowledge, many say that wakeboarding is an easy water sport to pick up and enjoy immediately.

"I think it's a lot more fun than skiing," says Niswender. "It's a lot easier to get up and learn tricks right away."

One of the main obstacles beginners may face in their quest to get out on the lake is overcoming the money required for the necessary equipment. Wakeboarding can be an expensive hobby – and that's before the cost of a six or seven thousand-dollar boat to pull you. Minus the cost of the boat however, wakeboarding can actually be less expensive than one might think.

"For your basic board package it's gonna be $150," says Niswender. "That includes your bindings. That's gonna be enough to just get you out on the lake so you can learn the hang of it."

Brady Dolifka, a 19-year-old Front Range student, says wakeboarding is money well spent.

"It's definitely been worth the cost," says Dolifka, who guesses he's spent around $700 on wakeboarding. "It's fun to go out there with your friends and spend the day on the lake."

"My goal is to get better and do something I've never done before every time I go out," says Dolifka.

If you are looking to get involved, Northern Colorado offers a variety of lakes available for water sports. Many of them are private and require a membership that can cost thousands of dollars so having connections to private property can cut down expenses

If no such connection exists then the most easily accessible public lakes in Northern Colorado include the 1,700 acre Boyd State Park in Loveland, and the 1,900 acre Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins.

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