Austin Hair, a Tega Cay resident and professional wakeskater and wakeboarder, has been climbing up the professional ranks and ended the 2008 season as the 13th ranked wakeboarder and the wakeskate National Champion.
Hair's love for the sport began when he moved to a home on Lake Wylie and he's been excelling ever since. The 21-year-old University of Central Florida student balances his college life and professional life well and hopes to continue in the sport for at least the next 15 years.
"The biggest thing for me was just doing it every day," Hair said about turning professional. "I want to continue on the track that I am on and finish consistently in the top-10. I have gotten a lot of exposure on the Internet and hope to continue getting exposure."
Hair was invited to participate in the Pan-Am Games as the lone American representative. He has traveled to Dubai, Mexico and the Philippines over the past year and hopes to continue moving up the ranks while pursuing a degree from UCF.
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"Both of them are important to me right now, but it is sometimes hard to maintain," Hair said. "I am getting closer to a degree and would like to be able to balance both areas of my life."
Wakeboarding and wakeskating are still relatively new sports and as of yet are not considered mainstream. However, they have been around for the past 20 years and are gaining popularity with national audiences. The International Olympic Committee has been proposing the idea of adding them to the next summer games, but have not decided when they will be officially implemented.
Hair, who has won the Australian Pro Tour Championship, the King of Spring Championship and has been a collegiate and national champion, is looking to extend his career as far as it will take him.
"The sport is relatively new, but it is hard to come up with your own tricks," he said. I have been trying and thinking about new ones, but there are so many tricks out there [and] I am trying to master those for now."
Growing up, Hair said, Shaun Murray, who has a video game named after him, and Randy Harris, were his role models. Hair, who also works with the Fort Mill-based South Town Riders, has been volunteering and teaching kids fundamentals of the sport - and some new tricks.
"Doing lessons is a way to give back something to the kids and teach them some of the things that I have learned," Hair said.
"It is great when you see a kid smile when he learns new tricks and helping them out is something that I really enjoy. I also want to be a good role model for kids on and off the water."