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At 17, Daniel Grant is the youngest rider in Real Wake. He’s also the only rider to include wakeskating — which is a smaller board where the rider is not strapped in — in his video part. Grant honed his skills on the cables of Thailand and turned pro before he was a teenager. He has been traveling the world in search of new winch spots and new tricks ever since.
XGames.com: You’re one of the few guys who has managed to excel in both wakeskating and wakeboarding. Why did you decide to include both in your Real Wake part?
Daniel Grant: I knew from the start I wanted both to be included. Whether I could do both was my first question once I found out about Real Wake. The majority of the part is wakeboarding, but I’m glad I got to sneak in some wakeskate clips.
You’ve earned a lot of acclaim for your cable riding. Is that where you focused most of your efforts for Real Wake?
Definitely cable and System 2.0 was a main focus for me at the start. It was hard not to when my house is five minutes from the park, which is what inspired me to [focus on] park riding, unseen winch spots and really bringing out the urban aspect of wakeboarding and wakeskating.
How did you get the nickname “Tao”?
When I was around 10 years old, I was really into my pet turtles. My helmet was painted green. I then got a huge, bright green CGA-approved vest. All those things added up to me being called Turtle, which translated into Thai is, “Tao.”
As one of the youngest guys on the circuit, who do you look up to? How does it feel to be competing alongside guys who are twice your age?
There are so many riders out there who I look up to who have helped me since I started. I won the Worlds in my first pro event at 13, which was surreal. I suppose that has helped me deal the pressure at events.
How long did you spend filming your Real Wake part?
We didn’t even know where to shoot the part at first. When I found out about the project I was in Thailand filming for the new Liquid Force movie, but as soon as I heard about this project everything was put on hold to focus on X Games. I flew out to the U.S to hook up with Collin (Harrington), and my Real Wake part was filmed in about four weeks.
How was it different from other filming projects you’ve worked on?
The challenge was making it different than any video part I’ve done in the past. I realized I am one of a select group who has the opportunity to demonstrate my style of riding. It was different because I know what it means to the sport, but also challenging, as I was already involved in other filming and needed it to be different.
Were there any particular shots you worked especially hard to get?
Winching shots are the real hard ones to get. It just takes a lot of patience and time, as well as having to deal with cops who don’t understand what we’re trying to do. On the last day of filming I tried a double Moby Dick — the only double flip I’ve been thinking about doing, ever. I really wanted to bring technicality to a double flip, but that didn’t end well. Two months down the road, I am just back riding again.
What do you think about wakeboarding being part of the X Games again?
X Games is where the sport belongs. The comp circuit has a place but it’s not everything because the association tries to mold [the sport in] a certain direction. But at the end of the day, it’s an individual sport and we should just do our thing. A lot of wakeboarders and wakeskaters have a similar mentality to skateboarding — people are progressing their own abilities and others are feeding from that.
What will it take to win?
What will win this will be any rider’s part that is unique, creative with unseen tricks. I feel like the best clips, that are going to stoke me out, will be mostly on a System 2.0 or winch.
What’s next for you, personally?
I have a handful of comps coming up, but my main focus is to progress my riding and finish my personal project. I’m planning to release it towards the end of the year. I really want to focus getting clips from places I travel to around the world.