By Jeff Barton
He is the ginger-haired cult of personality in the wakeboarding scene, a rider admired as much for his provocative sound bites off the water as he is for his athletic exploits atop his board. With nearly a decade of amateur shredding under his belt, Robert Soven has thrown his bag of wakeboarding hammers into the pro ranks in 2010, and while it is still way early, the initial returns have been outstanding. He's scored his first Pro win at Board Up Miami in April, then followed that up with second place at the Wake Games.
"It's radical," replied Bob when asked what it was like to be him these days. "It's a thrill ride where you don't know what's coming next. I'm either all the way on or in rare cases off. And there's no censor on anything I do."
A Perfect Run With Bob Soven
Yeah, this kid is definitely known for being spontaneous, living in the moment and typically making those around him frequently roll with laughter. But this weekend, there was reason for possible pause: Bob found himself in a semifinal battle against two of the sports most all-time feared opponents in wakeboarding. One was the competitive beast known as Rusty Malinoski. The other was a foe that Bob was infinitely more familiar with-his older brother Phillip. But Bob handled the situation with his usual aplomb and applied humor to the situation. "Am I nervous? Not at all," was how Bob summed up his pre-semifinals mindset. "Phillip and Rusty are the nervous ones. They have deal with the consequences of possibly losing to me. I'm not expected to win so I can just do my thing."
Bob Soven at WWA Worlds 2009
That mindset proved victorious as Bob bested his big bro and the Bonecrusher, securing himself a slot in the Pro Men's final. When asked if there was anything special about taking down his brother, a smile came across his face as he took the chance to poke fun at his older sibling. "I beat Froggy, what more could you ask for?" (Froggy was an old nickname for Phillip, a moniker that he absolutely hates. Thus, Bob loves to call him Froggy.)
But Bob does realize that his role as the underdog might be short lived and that he'd better enjoy it now. "I know that with the better results I turn in, the more that's going to be expected of me. Right now I'm just the new face on the Pro scene and that I need to prove myself. But the better I do, the more people will be gunning for me and expecting me to continue this roll of success."
Bob Soven at PWT #4, Elizabethtown 2009
Quite a few established pro's have already embraced Bob and have taken a genuine interest in seeing him do well. During his semifinals run, some of the biggest names in wakeboarding made their way to the waters edge solely to show their support for wakeboarding's next big thing. As Bob prepared to start his first pass, he glanced to shore and saw Parks Bonifay, Erik Ruck, Shawn Watson, Chad Sharpe, Jimmy LaRiche, Adam Errington and others feverishly cheering him into battle. "It means everything to me," said Bob of his audience of wake legends. "Ruck and Watson were giving me pep talks all morning, and Parks promised me $40 in cold hard cash if I beat Rusty and Phillip." Bob indeed got to collect his hard earned cash that day, something we expect he'll be doing for years to come. The era of Bob Soven has officially arrived.