Thirty Three Summers. The Amber Wing Story by Andrea Gaytan.
The first time the legendary World Champion facetimed me back, it was half past noon in Sydney. She looked dazzling through the phone screen, with her signature red hair pinned up into a mom-bun while she juggled two small children in the midst of a hot day. There was no time to waste. I sat up straight…
Amber Wing retired from competitive wakeboarding not long ago, yet the fast-talking star has got more energy than a supernova. Here is the story of the gifted and delicate Australian beauty who chased the summer across two continents for a decade and a half, riding with the guts and brains of a Super “Shero”.
The Amber Wing Story
Photo: Bob Wing
In 1998, Amber Wing was 15 yrs old when she tried wakeboarding for the first time. She was on a waterski holiday with a friend from gymnastics.
“I asked my Dad for a Wakeboard for Christmas that year, he bought me a Freemotion Journey. This got me on the water behind our family ski boat and my love for the sport began.”
Amber was extremely focused on Gymnastics, training up to 40 hours a week with the upcoming Olympic games in Sydney in her dreams, but early in the 2000 season she severely broke her ankle and her olympic hopes came to halt.
Amber finds Zen-like equilibrium on a different kind of balance beam . Photo: Chris West.
“I needed to channel my energy and athletic fitness somewhere, and that somewhere became Wakeboarding.”
Every morning at 6am Amber woke her parents up and asked them to tow her on the river. She rode whenever and wherever she could.
“I was hooked. I asked my Dad for a better board for Christmas, they bought me a second hand LF 128 Trip with Ultra Suctions.”
In 2001 she landed her first invert, the Tantrum, and immediately rose to the top. By the end of the 2001/2002 Australian summer, Amber won the local, state and nationals in Junior Women and won Junior Women at the Asian Australasians in Japan.
A turning point in her career was when she headed to Orlando for a two week stay to compete in the WWA Worlds.
Back in Australia, at the Planet X Wake Event in Sydney, she met Emily Copeland, Lauren Harf and Cathy Williams and ended up placing 4th in Open Women finals, the highest placed Australian female at the time.
“It was my first major accomplishment.”
After winning the Australian Championships, Amber headed to Florida for her first pro season. On the way, she stopped in Portland and competed in her first Tour Stop and ended up placing 4th.
Amber spent the summer riding as much as she could while being the cook at the World Wakeboard Center. At the end of her first year on the pro tour, she received an invitation to compete at the elite NBC Gravity Games.
“I was super happy with my start and felt confident for the future.”
Unfortunately, at nineteen years old, Amber had a right ACL reconstruction, and at twenty… left ACL reconstructive surgery.
“ I blew both knees out young. Call me reckless or overconfident.”
Her first injury was wake-skating. She tore her Left ACL when she had just come home from her second trip to Florida in 2003 and it was heartbreaking.
“I took this on the chin, I was 20 yrs old, I didn’t drink or party for six months and became super focused on coming back stronger and better than ever.”
She recovered quickly and when the 2004 season started she was back on the water and living at the World Wakeboard Center. The secluded paradise where she had started as a cook and was now a coach.
“To finish the season on the podium, I felt like I made it back.”
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