Three years ago, Fernie local Emily Agate began wakesurfing. In the last three years, the young athlete turned her wave riding hobby into a passion, and she showed her strength at the 2014 World Wakesurfing Championships in Las Vegas this summer.
After just three years, Agate did what most athletes can only dream of doing: She placed third in a World Wakesurfing competition.
“I set my heart on making it to a pro podium at worlds and I accomplished that this year,” Agate said. “It was mind blowing because I’ve only been training and learning tricks for two years.”
She went on to say, “It’s been two years of me competing and I’ve gone from amateur to top three in the world … so it was a pretty big accomplishment.”
Agate owes her success in part to Caroline Villeneuve, an Elko resident who introduced her to the competitive scene through her H20 wakesurfing school.
Coaching hundreds of students all around the world, Villeneuve admits that there was something special about Agate.
“She evolved so fast,” she said of the pro wakesurfer. “As a rider, she’s very motivated. She really put her time and passion into it.”
Villeneuve moved to Elko five summers ago, spending her winters in the small community and her summers on Lake Koocanusa, training athletes like Agate on her houseboat. But more recently, Villeneuve said she’s been training athletes around the world, travelling far and wide — including places like Dubai — to coach professional athletes.
In fact, this year Villeneuve said that she trained 10 per cent of the athletes at the World Wakeboarding Championships.
“I was pretty proud of that,” she said adding that she has even been invited to judge professional wakeboarding competitions.
Villeneuve herself competed in the professional surfing division, receiving second place in the Pro Skim Division of the World Wakesurfing Championships held in Vegas in late September.
“It was pretty much my best year for competing,” she said. “I just love it.”
Villeneuve has been involved in the sport since 2007. She noted that she would not be where she is today without the support of her husband Ben Stokie, her parents and her two main sponsors, Centurion Boats and Inland Surfer.
Although she still competes on a professional level, she dedicates a lot of her time and energy to training young athletes like Agate.
“In two short years, from hard work, determination, love and support from family, friends and sponsors [Soulcraft, Tige Boats, Seca marine and Spy Optic] I have made it from amateur level to a professional rider,” Agate said. “Live life to the fullest, believe in yourself and make your dreams [a] reality.”