Welcome to our first installment of MAHFIA.tv’s new interview segment, MAHFIA Spotlight! We will be interviewing different women in the industry, from athletes to photographers/filmers, industry leaders, influencers, and other rad people supporting women in action sports. More than just a celebration of their accomplishments, we will take a deeper look into how they got to where they are, including life changing moments, fears, and inspiration. By shedding light on women who are pushing our community forward, we hope to inspire and empower you all to get out there and go for it.
Not only is Jen GilanFarr one of the most accomplished female wakeskaters in the world, she’s spent her career inspiring and empowering other women in the wake shredding community. She’s a pioneer in wakeskating and has worked to unite female wakeskaters to push the Wakeskate Tour to include a women’s dvision. In 2012, they accomplished their goal and Jen also took home Overall Champion from 2012-2014.
In addition to her personal career highlights, Jen is the leader of The Wakebabes, a dynamic group of #ladiesofshred that ride together and share the same determination to push boundaries for women in wakeskating. Jen and The Wakebabes also created the first women’s specific wakeskate company, Wandr Co. The brand serves as a foundation to support women in this community and encourage women’s participation in wakeskating and action sports in general.
We had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Jen and learn about a little bit more about the women behind the board.
If you could skate/snow/surf/hang with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
Sarah Burke, she is my biggest inspiration in women’s action sports as a true pioneer and passionate leader of her sport.
Favorite place you’ve been to? #1 place you want to go to but haven’t yet?
New Zealand. My friend Flick and I road tripped through the South Island with her boat and woke up at a different lake every day. Wakeskating in Milford Sound was unreal. I absolutely love that country and can’t wait to go back this Spring! One of these days I am going to make it over to Bali.
Who has influenced or inspired your (skating/snowboarding/surfing) the most?
The ‘cool kids’ that are always trying to set new standards of what’s cool and what’s not… I couldn’t keep up with their standards and they didn’t make me feel good about wakeskating so I quit listening to them and focused on what was fun for me and set my own standards, taking that negative energy and turning it into something positive.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was 13. I was a real scaredy cat as a kid but by some miracle I ended up a professional athlete.
Describe the last time you laughed so hard you cried? What happened?
I can’t pinpoint one event, but it happens often when hanging out with The Wakebabes and it’s usually over something completely ridiculous and minuscule! I’m pretty sure there was at least one laugh-till-you-cry episode on our last road trip.
The last time you cried?
My second day out on my brand new mountain bike, trying to climb up rocky hairpin turns and popping gears trying to keep up with my boyfriend. I walked a lot on that trail and half considered returning my bike. I highly suggest starting with nice friendly mellow trails… confidence building is key!
The last time you were scared?
The 2016 Presidential Elections – frightening.
What do you do our tell yourself when you are feeling scared or intimidated?
I get really quiet when I’m nervous, all my thoughts are turned inwards. Rock climbing pushes those limits the most. There’s a lot of moments on the wall where I have to talk myself into trusting my hands, my feet, the rock and my partner and to keep moving. You have to believe in yourself and be confident to get through those moments, no one else can do that for you.
Where did you grow up? Do you think there are any characteristics about your hometown or household that shaped who you are?
I was very blessed to grow up in Lake Tahoe – skiing, hiking and playing outside. Having nothing to compare it to, I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I moved away to Florida. Now that I am back I appreciate the mountains and the opportunities available more than ever, this place is incredible!
Can you tell us about a pivotal (or “a-ha”) moment in your life? ie) a life changing experience?
I went to my first hippy music festival in California (High Sierra Music Festival) and it threw my train off the tracks. I missed the west coast mentality, I realized I outgrew my life chasing wakeskating in Florida and was ready to return home to the mountains and open up my world to so much more. I quit my day job and moved back to Lake Tahoe to work for myself and play in the mountains among like-minded people. Best decision I’ve ever made.
What’s a crazy invention (doesn’t have to be realistic) you wish existed in your sport?
A lightweight and compact towing device that you could easily hike into the mountains to ride high alpine lakes. I don’t know if it’s a mini winch or one of these crazy drones but it would be sweet if it could operate itself too!
Tell us about a time where you felt super humbled.
Surfing. Every single time. I can surf behind the boat all day, but I struggle to catch real waves and the ocean always gets the best of me. It’s hard to be so good at one thing and so bad at another.
If you couldn’t do your sport/activity, what would your dream job be?
I’d be an advocate for women’s action sports in an even bigger way – whether that’s leading the women’s marketing department for a large brand, starting my own or creating an organization that brings women’s action sports together across the globe and across our individual sports. I do that in a very small way now with my wakeskate company Wandr Co, but I’d like to have a bigger impact and branch out into more action and outdoor sports.
What is something you would like to see change in your sport/industry?
More support for the women. It’s so challenging for women’s action sports to grow and thrive when there isn’t any support from the industry. If there is more coverage, there is more appeal to sponsors, more support for filming/trips/progression and more inspiration for other women to get involved. We need a catalyst for our progression, a little support from the industry would go a long way.
What is something you would like to see change in the world?
A return back to the simpler ways in life – less technology, more social interaction and playing outside. More understanding of our overall impact on the earth, less material objects and greed. A movement back to the roots of love instead of hate.
Tell us something you are working right now (can be a trick, a hobby, life skill, etc)
I am learning a lot of new sports all at once – mountain biking, rock climbing, backcountry skiing and surfing. It’s all very humbling, learning how to be the rookie for a change and an how to be all around athlete.
Any shout outs?
Shout out to my crew of lady skaters – The Wakebabes!! O’Neill, thanks for for keeping me warm in style in these alpine lakes, and to everyone I have ever had the pleasure of taking a set with – you’ve inspired me in one way or another. Thanks to my boyfriend who has pushed my limits in every way possible and introduced me to so many fun new sports. And a massive thanks to Kim Woozy for everything she is doing for women’s action sports, it’s super inspiring!
If you want to learn more about Jen, follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and check out Wandr Co. and The Wakebabes on their websites! Also, click here to see a video of Jen’s latest adventure to New Zealand and the Philippines!