JL: What’s up, Anna?! I hope you are staying warm during this crazy Texas winter storm. Have you lost power?
AN: Hey, Justin! Thanks, I currently have like 4 layers of clothes on. I lost power at 2:00 AM about 3 days ago and have been curled up in a ball ever since. Texas doesn’t understand how to snow.
JL: Well, I hope that you’re able to get your power back soon. I understand that it’s a pretty serious situation for everyone in Texas. As far as wakeboarding goes, you’ve been on fire over the last couple of years! You’re on your second year pro model board and boots with Liquid Force, a signature Follow vest, and Sandbox helmet. What does it feel like to look back on all your accomplishments and to be in the place you are now?
AN: Thank you, it’s been an incredible journey. Ya know I haven’t really taken the time to look back, but when you mention it, I just can’t believe how far wakeboarding has taken me. I started riding for the sole purpose of having fun and I’ve been very fortunate to have met these amazing companies that put their faith in me.
JL: At what point did having fun turn into becoming one of the best riders in the world? What clicked for you and gave you the drive to become great? Walk me through your journey a little bit.
AN: Well, I have always had this metaphorical fire in my belly when I become passionate about something, so once wakeboarding became the only thing I could think about, it was like opening up the gates of hell. Also, having older brothers, one of which who happened to be this incredibly talented athlete (Erik Nikstad). He definitely was a huge part in my progression. Growing up around him, he always said anything he can do, I can do. This gave me the confidence in myself that I needed in order to push my boundaries. Seriously though, with that type of positive reinforcement, there really isn’t anything that can stop you. So, after working my tail off, doing a little bit of traveling, and meeting some connections, I didn’t just get my foot in the door – I kicked that door down.
JL: That’s the sickest thing I’ve ever heard, haha! I can’t wait to see all the other doors you bust down. How was your travel schedule affected last year with everything going on? I saw that you put together the TumbleWeed Tour last summer. Which parks did you travel to and how did the tour go?
AN: Well, the pandemic hit when I was filming at CWC. I managed to make it to Australia to film for the Liquid Force LFG project and got stuck there for a few months. Once I was able to make it home, I bought an RV and hit the road for my TumbleWeed Tour. The tour was originally a 9 wakepark project, but unfortunately, the pandemic had its way again. I traveled to West Rock, BSR, TSR and Quest ATX. I got to host Ladies Nights, demo all my LF gear, teach lessons, give out free swag, give advice on the dock, film, and meet some pretty amazing people.
JL: Fortunately, I was only stuck in Valdosta when the pandemic hit. What was it like to be stuck in another country for that long and to not have the ability to go home? It sounds like you got to do a lot of riding, but I imagine it must have been pretty stressful.
AN: It was a bit scary at first. I wasn’t sure when I would see my family again. But of all places I got stranded, the Sunshine Coast of Australia was probably the jackpot. Thanks to Mick Neville and Bli Bli Wakepark, I was able to live comfortably and help out around the property. I also got to surf everyday with my best girlfriend Deanna Hatten, so even though the circumstances were stressful, I still had a quite an unforgettable time with some amazing friends.
JL: 2020 was a rough one for sure, but it sounds like you made the best out of it given the circumstances! Do you have any trips planned for this year or any parks you’d like to check out?
AN: I have heard of some contests that might happen overseas later on in the season. I’ll try to make it to those events. However, I’ll mostly stick around the States this year to film and check out some of these new up-and-coming wake parks…like Elevated Wake Park.
JL: Right on! Are you filming for any particular projects coming up, or just stacking up clips?
AN: A bit of both. I will be part of the Texas movie Come & Take It, produced by Jacob Simmons, but I’ve also got a few other film projects that I’d like to smash out. You’ll have to wait and see!
JL: Hopefully, it won’t be too long until we’re able to have events and travel again. I bet the movie is going to be a banger with all the talent coming out of Texas! You’ve been ripping on the cable ever since I’ve known you; do you like riding behind the boat too, or nah?
AN: Yeah, I like boat but I just don’t get that same feeling as I do on a cable setup. One day it would be fun to try to make something out of my boat riding, but for now I’m having too much fun on the cable/winching.
JL: I can relate! Have you done any winching lately?
AN: I got to winch some with Graeme Burress recently and have always dabbled in it. In fact, before I rode on the cable, me and my brothers would go winch a bunch and that was before I had ever hit a rail. Ha! Also, I’m in the market for a winch so if you know a guy, send him my way!
JL: That’s sick! It sounds like you had a solid support group when you got into wakeboarding. What about your off-season activities? Are you using your time off the water wisely and getting more tattoos?
AN: Haha, I wish! I haven’t added anything new recently. This time around my off-season has consisted of skating, working out with a trainer, jumping on the trampoline trying to learn new stuff, and painting. Normally at this time of the year I’m at my second home CWC, where I always film a preseason video. Corona sucks.
JL: Stupid virus. Besides being a badass wakeboarder, what else do you do for work? What keeps you busy most days?
AN: I have an eclectic repertoire. I love working with my hands, painting, crafting, woodwork, etc. I like working with animals as well, so somehow I always find a little critter that needs help. I’ve started playing with the stock market a bit and that’s been a learning experience. Other than that, I’ve been working with my supporting companies to expand product and create new projects for this year. I keep very busy.
JL: You’re a busy bee! Have you been teaching much with the accessibility of cable parks and new people getting into wakeboarding?
AN: Oh yeah, it’s been booming. Mostly I worked with this sweet girl named Lacy. She started wakeboarding only last year and has come a long way already. When I was up at West Rock, I was doing like 4 lessons a day. The crew up there is so motivated!
JL: That’s another park I need to check out. What would you say are one or two nuggets of wisdom that you like to give someone during a lesson?
AN: Just relax and have fun!
JL: Word. I’ll have to remember that the next time I’m teaching! The past and present have been really good for you and your career. Where do you see yourself in the next few years and do you have any long-term goals as of now?
AN: I feel like I’m only just getting started. The sky is the limit. I’m going to keep doing what I love and just continue to be open to new opportunities. Although I love to be scheduled and make calculated, step by step decisions, I’ve also learned to enjoy the process. In doing so, it’s made everything I aim for way more worthwhile.
JL: As last year taught us, you can only plan for so much. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me! It was great catching up and I hope to do some riding with you this summer! Is there anything you would like to close with?
AN: Thanks for reaching out, Justin. We’ve been homies for a while now! Crazy how much time flies. I just want to thank everyone who’s helped and encouraged me. My sponsors; Liquid Force, VIVIDA Lifestyle, Follow, Sandbox, Unit-Parktech, BuyWake.com, RepublicWake; my great friend Nane-Art; my brother Erik Nikstad; and all the amazing people I’ve met along the way!