Sonja Scheffler Weinacker spent the first few years of her wakeboard career traveling the world and teaching the sport of wakeboarding to countries who were eager to learn this new extreme sport. Most countries had waterski teams and waterski clubs but wanted to learn how wakeboard, what the tricks were called, what “style” meant, how to put on a tournament, judge a tournament, and just have fun riding NOT training! She was featured in magazines, television, and videos all over the world for being a competitor and ambassador for the sport. Hosting several television shows from the likes of ESPN to Fox Sports Network and Waterski Magazines “Boat Tests” are some of the other talents she contributed to the sport.
These early years of wakeboard had nothing arranged for women, Sonja and a handful of other women riders decided to blaze the trail for women’s wakeboarding. They had to raise their own prize money and fight to get a division of their own on the Pro Tour. Getting Pro Women’s Wakeboarding established on the tour took some time but after hard work women got to compete on Saturday and Sunday with prize money ready for them!
Sonja spent a great deal of time traveling to boat shows, doing clinics all over the world, and spending months on the road on the Rider’s Life Tour meanwhile competing on the Pro Tour and World Cup. Having an athletic look landed Sonja in many national and international magazine such as FHM Singapore, FHM Malaysia, and Sports Illustrated for Women. Meanwhile, getting featured in wakeboarding magazines around the globe and earning several magazine covers. Sonja’s love for the sport is infectious and she helped spread that love throughout the world.
1. Helping the start of the sport of wakeboarding in many countries around the world and then coaching and doing clinic is what Sonja’s greatest accomplishment is, because it is not just about her, it is about others and helping others have fun and love our great sport. People that she taught to wakeboard 15 years ago now take their kids out on the lake……. Now that is great!
2. Winning the Cafe De Columbia Pro Tour Stop in Altamonte Springs ’95’, was a career highlight. Following it up with a great season in ’96’ placing 2nd at the World Championships and 2nd on the overall Pro Tour Standings and taking 3rd at Nationals. As Sonja’s career continued she competed on all tour circuits having many 2nd and 3rd place winnings.
3. Competing in the first X-Games for women’s wakeboarding and taking 5th place was a big accomplishment, but being nominated by her peers to represent the sport of wakeboarding felt much bigger. Sonja was on the Athlete Advisory Council for the X-Games. Other council members were who had major interest in making sure their sports were represented well by the X-Games are names like Tony Hawk for Skateboarding and Dennis McCoy for BMX.
One of the first women wakeboarders, she pioneered the sport of wakeboarding through over 40 countries. Helping countries learn the sport of wakeboarding consisted of: demonstrations, coaching, setting up tournaments, teaching the tricks, how to judge, and how to run an event. Most of all how to have fun wakeboarding! Competed on the Pro Tour and World Cup for over 10 years. Competed at the first X-games and served on the X-Games Athlete Advisory Council for 2 years.
Bliss Bathing Suits
Fox Sports Net
ESPN Pro Tour
Women of Watersports Pro Tour
Van’s Triple Crown
Jose Cuervo Board 2 Board Challenge
Cafe de Columbia Pro Tour
1995 5th place Nationals
1996 Cafe de Columbia Pro Tour Altamonte Springs : Pro Tour Winner
1996 Cincinnati Open 2nd Place
1996 2nd place Overall Pro Tour Standings
1996 3rd Place Nationals
1997 World Championship 2nd Place
1997 X-Games 5th place
1998 Hawaii Open 2nd place
1998 Jose Quervo Board 2 Board Challenge 2nd place
1999 Women of Watersports Tour Minnesota 2nd place
Several top 5 Career finishes
Women of Watersports Pro Tour Host
ESPN Pro Tour
Curves Televsion Series
Waterski Magazine Boat Test Host
She Sport TV
Beach Extreme TV Featured Athlete
Designed Neilpryde’s Women Wakeboard line: Wetsuits, Rash Guards, and Life Jackets
Rider’s Life Road Tour 2007
Rider’s Life Road Tour 2008
Queen of the Boat Show Circuit 1996-2006
Hosted Waterski Magazine Boat Test 2000-2004 ….ish
Almost every state in the United States
Most of Canada
British Virgin Islands
Alliance FHM Asia 3 Page Spread
Sports Illustrated Bathing Suit Feature as a female
Edge Magazine Europe: Cover
Master Craft Pro Tour
INT Tournament series
Women of Water Sports Cover Model
Wakeboarding Magazine Calendar Monthly Featured Rider