Winter Olympians Swap Snow for Water
8th July 2021 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on July 19th, 2021
Former GB ski racer Chemmy Alcott and freestyle snowboarder Aimee Fuller have been showing their style on the water after getting hooked on the growing sport of wakesurfing.
The pair – who, between them, have six Winter Olympic appearances for Team GB – were demonstrating their skills in a support of a campaign by British Water Ski & Wakeboard, the sport’s governing body, to encourage more women to get on the water.
I went along with two hats on.
I am not only PlanetSKI’s Chief Reporter but Head of Communications at BWSW.
So what exactly is wakesurfing?
It’s like surfing but using the wake of a boat to surf instead of natural waves.
It’s been taking off in the UK.
With surfing making its debut at the Olympics this summer, wakesurfing is bound to become even more popular with new fans able to get the thrill of riding the waves on inland water rather than the sea.
Aimee discovered the similar discipline of wakeboarding shortly after competing at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, where she had competed in snowboard slopestyle and big air.
Unlike wakesurfing, wakeboarders ride with their feet in bindings fixed to the board and are towed by a rope attached to the boat.
“Wakeboarding for me was very, very similar to snowboarding but then I found wakesurfing which is really soft on your body,” she says.
“There’s lots of room for creativity and it’s something I enjoy doing with my friends. It’s still a board sport, which I love, but it’s not snowboarding which is nice.”
Chemmy, now a ski coach and presenter-reporter on BBC Ski Sunday, took up wakesurfing last year at the age of 37.
She says there are similarities between the snow and water.
“There’s a huge synergy between wakesurfing and snowsports because when you’re on the mountain you’ve got to feel what the piste is doing, what the snow conditions are, and here you’ve got to find that biting point on the wake and find that flow. You can’t force it too much,” she says.
Both Chemmy and Aimee are backing BWSW’s campaign to encourage more female participation.
They say you don’t have to be superfit and talented to give it a go.
“We had some of our girlfriends come down who are not sporty at all and straight away they got up. You don’t have to be that fit because in the beginning you are just riding the wake,” Chemmy says.
“If you take on board the feedback, put your feet in the right place and move your arms at the right time you pop up like a cork,” Aimee says.
“So I would say anyone can do it.
“It’s a sport that’s super inclusive. It’s really fun. It’s almost addictive.
“The progression level is really quite quick so you could come into it with very little board sports experience and very quickly progress which I think makes it a very attractive sport.
“It’s soft, the water doesn’t hurt and, especially in the summer like now, the water’s warm, it’s not even cold!”
Fancy giving it go or finding out more?
Go to the BWSW website to find out where you can take part in all the disciplines of the sport, including wakeboarding, wakesurfing, water skiing and even barefoot skiing!
And here are some more photos to see what you’re missing out on….