Twelve-year-old Chestermere Wake Surfer Evan Hudson won gold in the 2019 Centurion World Wake Surfing Championships in the Men’s Amateur Division in Utah.
“It was fun, but it was pretty intimidating at the start, I was riding against people who were 40 years old to 18 years old,” said Hudson.
“I was so happy, I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I did it, I beat a 40-year-old man,’ it was pretty cool.”
Although Hudson won gold, competing against athletes at least twice his age was difficult.
“I knew that moving up to amateur was going to be really hard for him,” said Hudson’s Mother and Professional Wake Surfer Nicole Hudson.
“When I saw that he won we were to the moon, there were tears and jumping around and a lot of celebration,” she said.
“Being a professional wake surfer myself, it’s hard not to let your nerves get to you when you’re the underdog. Especially physically, when you look at him, he is a boy, and these guys are grown men.”
While competing, Evan was judged on difficulty, intensity, variety, and execution of his performance. However, because Evan is not as physically strong as the older athletes, he has to be consistent.
“He’s very consistent he works on being able to land his whole run from beginning to end and not struggle on those tricks,” Nicole said.
If Evan falls on a trick, or if he sees an older athlete perform well before him, he doesn’t let it get to him, and he doesn’t let it get into his head.
“He stays cool, calm, and collected. If anything, it seems to really drive him to do better,” Nicole said.
She added, “He’s impressed us so much not letting the nerves get to him.”
Throughout the competition, Evan would regularly cheer on the other competitors, and high five them for landing their tricks.
“He had a big smile on his face even for others, it’s hard to do that when you watch them do a run,” Nicole said.
“He’s wise beyond his years. He’s very mature,” she said.
“For most competitors, it comes with age to be able to let go and not be disappointed and still be supportive of other people. It’s hard not to let those things get in your head. He’s got a really good competitive mindset that’s very positive,” she added.
Although competing against the older athletes was intimidating, Evan landed all of his tricks on his run.
“People were cheering me on, which gave me more confidence. I could hear my mom onshore screaming her face off,” Evan said.
“He had the best run in his entire life in the qualifying round on the first day. He landed a couple of tricks he’s never landed in competition before,” Nicole said.
To prepare for the World Wake Surfing Championships, Evan trained five to seven days a week in 30-minute intervals and practicing tricks on a skateboard deck on the trampoline.
Along with preparing physically for competitions, it is also important that Evan takes the time to prepare mentally before competing.
“I close my eyes and count to ten. When I’m out there, and I’m not focusing on my run, I get shaky and anxious. It gets rid of the anxiety,” Evan said.
Although Evan has been steadily progressing in his wake surfing career, he does have many challenges to overcome each time he competes.
“Me being small, and not as strong as the other guys, it makes some tricks harder,” Evan said.
“I try my best. I practice tricks that I can do so I can be consistent, I work on my style and do tricks that the other guys don’t do so I have a wide variety,” he said.
Despite the challenges, Evan has to overcome, getting to spend the day with his family on the boat makes the hard work worth it.
“The atmosphere of the events are just stellar, and I get to do it with my family,” Evan said.
“It’s an individual sport, but people are next to do, and giving you tips,” he added.
Moving forward, Evan is currently preparing for a competition in Arizona, and will then be traveling to Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Russia.
“It’s going to be fun,” Evan said.
“He’s going to get ready with a whole new bag of tricks and new lines, it will be fun,” Nicole said.
She added, “Chestermere is a hub for wake surfing, and we’re fortunate to live here. We’re really thankful that the city supports us too.”