STEPH CALLER entered her first wakeskate competition on a whim last week – she even had to borrow a board.
That competition was the WWA Wakepark World Championships in Abu Dhabi and no one was more surprised than Steph when she came away with the world title, beating two experienced Russians in the process.
If that suggests an element of beginners’ luck, that’s not strictly true.
Steph, who lives in Cheltenham and trains at WMSki in South Cerney, is a dual national champion in the similar discipline of wakeboarding.
More than 200 riders from 25 countries took part at the Al Forsan Wake Park in Abu Dhabi and Steph, one of only two GB winners at the tournament, also came home with a bronze medal in her more favoured event, the Amateur Women’s Features Only – seven minutes on the cable wakeboard performing her best tricks over obstacles.
She added a highly respectable fifth place finish in the Pro Women's Wakeboard against a tough international field.
Her Abu Dhabi success came after a month of intensive training in the Philippines ahead of the championships and represented her best ever results in the sport.
Unlike in wakeboarding, wakeskaters' feet are not attached to the board with bindings.
Steph, 27, said: “It’s more technical than wakeboarding and not so high impact on your body. Wakeskating is cooler, I suppose, and has a bit more street cred.
“James Harrington (another WMSki member) is a very good wakeskater on the British team and I did more of it at South Cerney this summer.
“But I had no intention of entering when I came to Abu Dhabi until a friend persuaded me. Now, of course, I am motivated to do a lot more.”
Caller seemed just as pleased with her third placing in the Women’s Features Only Wakeboarding.
“I had a fall in the final which probably cost me second,” she said. “but third place was a bigger achievement than my win as the level of competition was much higher.”
This year alone, Steph has competed in France, Germany, Japan, the Philippines and now Abu Dhabi.
Her sport has the advantage of following the sun and she finds it fits in well with her career as a freelance graphic designer.
“I can work from anywhere in the world,” she said. “I just open my laptop by a lake.”
Having taken up the sport seven years ago, she moved from London to the Cotswolds to be close to the superb facilities at WMSki.
“There is a possibility it could be an Olympic sport in 2020,” she said. “I will be too old by then but someone like (Kingshill School pupil and European bronze medallist) Harry Eames will be at his peak.
“I coach at WMSki as well and there is a lot of young talent coming through.
“Both Kytana Stronach (12) and Edie Phillips (13) will be good enough to represent GB in a couple of years.”
Her love, dedication and infectious attitude to the sport understandably make Steph a fantastic role model to the young female riders at WMSki.
She intends now to take three months off ‘to let my body recover’ and then she will target the 2013 Nationals, Europeans and, of course, the defence of her world title back in Abu Dhabi.