Caroline Villeneuve from Elko won the World Championship for wakesurfing last month, finally achieving what had been a decade-long goal.
The World Wakesurfing Championship took place from Sept. 24 to Sept. 26 in Parker, Arizona. The three-day event saw over 150 athletes from over nine different countries compete and was the 20th anniversary of the competition. To qualify, competitors had to compete in a qualifying event over the summer. There were 24 qualifying events all over the world, including one at Lake Koocanusa in August.
Along with the title of World Champion, Villeneuve also walked away with a $12,000 cash prize and a huge accomplishment – winning a world title had a 10-year goal.
“It’s my fifth world championship that I went to,” Villeneuve said. “Five years ago I got third, then third, then two second place finish and then first. I progressed and made my way up. This year I found was very hard because there is a lot of younger girls, about 16 to 18, that train all year around, they live in Florida or California and I’m trying to keep up.”
Villeneuve, who is 32, is only able to train for three to four months of the year. During the summer months, she lives at Sunshine Houseboats at Lake Koocanusa, operating the H20 School and training full time. During the winter, she works at Island Lake Lodge, adding the winter element to her lifestyle, and while she is unable to train everyday, it does keep her in shape for competing.
“I ride my snowskate, I’m in the backcountry and I snowmobile. I don’t really train towards wake surfing, but I keep active so my body is still in shape. It’s different muscles but in general I just got an active lifestyle,” she said.
Villeneuve said that after winning the title, it’s a little hard to grasp that she has completed the goal.
“It is absolutely surreal, People say to me, ‘oh the new world champion,’ and it still sounds funny. I don’t quite realize it I think.”
Her cash prize is going to help her keep training by helping her pay for expensive equipment, such as her boat. Villeneuve credited the help of many sponsors for helping her achieve her goal including local businesses such as Board Stiff, Centurion Boats and Absolute Watersports. She also gave an extra appreciation to her boyfriend for driving her to competitions all over North America.