They did it!

The vaunted board sports TRIFECTA!

Jake and Graci Roller of Belgium went surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding on the same day this month. Photos by Sam Arendt


Ozaukee Press staff

The date was Jan. 14, a Saturday. It was the third time Jake Roller of Belgium and his 11-year-old daughter Graci were to attempt the trifecta of board sports in a 24-hour period.

Conditions needed to be perfect. Earlier attempts were thwarted by Mother Nature. Either she blew too hard across the lake or stayed too warm to allow the ski hill to be open.

The pair longed to go surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding in one day.

“We’ve been planning that from this summer,” Graci said.

Jake heard of people attempting the trifecta at Big Bear Lake and Big Bear Mountain near Los Angeles, but not around here.

The unseasonably mild weather helped. Jake had been looking for the best time to try the trifecta.

“I kind of watched in November when the ski hills began opening,” he said. “Luckily, we had warm temperatures.”

The two knew how to skateboard and snowboard. Last summer, they learned to surf using YouTube videos and tips from Shawn Knitt, owner of the Board Shack in Port Washington.

Graci took Knitt’s class for beginners, and Jake became intrigued while watching.

“We pretty much spent the entire summer learning how to surf,” Jake said.

Now, it was time. Jake had to gauge the conditions.

“I woke up right as the sun was coming up,” he said.

He quickly drove to Harrington Beach State Park to check on the waves.

They were perfect.

“I was waiting for that nice, easy day with two to three-foot waves,” he said.

Jake went back to get Graci, and they got their gear and headed for the water.

It was about 7:30 a.m. The temperature was around 25 degrees. The water temperature was around 36.

They didn’t have to compete for space. Nobody else was surfing that morning.

They each grabbed about five waves. Graci went under on one, not uncommon for someone learning the sport.

After 45 minutes, it got a little cold to continue, so the two sought comfort in Jake’s truck — Graci had icicles in her hair — then went home to warm up and trade wetsuits for winter wear.

Before long, it was time to head to Ausblick Ski Hill in Sussex. Jake is friends with the owner.

Temperatures the night before were cold enough to make snow — 28 degrees or lower.

This activity was more natural for Graci.

“On her first day on a snowboard she was 16 months old,” Jake said.

Jake learned the sport when he was 8.

The two don’t just zoom down the hill, either. Both do jumps — Graci tries the smaller ones while Jake tries some more challenging moves.

Graci wiped out a few times in their nearly two hours in the snow, but she didn’t get cold.

As odd as it sounds, people actually stay warmer while snowboarding than surfing.

“You can wear a lot more layers under snow pants than a wetsuit,” Jake said.

After about two hours of sliding and jumping, the two headed for home. On the way back, they passed Sunburst Ski Area in the Town of Kewaskum and stopped for four or five passes.

Around 2 p.m., they arrived back in Belgium. It was time to change clothes again.

About 90 minutes later, the pair made their way to the skate park in Port Washington. The temperature was around freezing. Nobody else was there.

Their attire was comprised of sweatshirts and jeans.

“Skateboarding can get to be quite the workout,” Jake said.

They spent an hour going up and down the ramps until around dusk.

“It was nice because as the sun was going down it shined right on the skate park,” Jake said.

Graci kept up her streak of wiping out, but she was OK.

“I always tell her, if you’re not falling, you’re not learning,” Jake said.

The pair had another stop to make.

“We went to the Board Shack. Graci had an iced tea and I had a beer with Shawn to celebrate,” Jake said.

They had done it. Jake and Graci achieved the trifecta.

“It’s pretty exciting when you come up with an idea and you have to learn a new sport,” Jake said.

“It’s pretty tiring, too,” Graci said.

The two then did yoga to stretch out.

Knitt said he isn’t sure if anyone else in Wisconsin completed the milestone.

“Around the Great Lakes would be a good spot for it,” Jake said. “We have pretty much the perfect area for it.”

His grandfather lives in the western portion of the Upper Peninsula — Jake and Graci go snowshoeing there — and joked they should do the trifecta while surfing on different lakes.

The three activities are different but call for similar skill in balance. Surfing requires more arm strength, snowboarding pushes the legs and skateboarding does both.

“They’re all kind of like puzzle pieces. They all fit together but they don’t look the same,” Graci said.

“The biggest thing with surfing is learning to paddle in and then getting on your feet,” Jake said.

Skateboarding itself isn’t all that difficult, but doing tricks isn’t easy, Graci said.

She said snowboarding involves leaning on your toes and heels to be able to steer.

Whether they’re attempting rare feats or not, the two love to spend time outdoors. Graci likes to fish and comes along hunting,  and they hike at Harrington Beach State Park a couple of times per week.

The two are up for trying the feat again.

“It just has to be a day like that,” Graci said. “You just have to be ready and prepare yourself.”

“We had a blast doing it. Hopefully, we can do it again,” Jake said.

Perhaps, he said, their experience will inspire others to take up board sports.

“I hope this motivates more people to learn this kind of stuff. It kind of gives you that no-quit attitude,” Jake said.

To see more on the pair’s excursions, visit Jake’s Instagram page at @Trapper.Jake.

Photos in article:

(Upper Photo) THE SURF BOARDS used by Graci and her father, Jake Roller, are different widths and lengths, but their passion for the newly learned sport is the same. They picked up surfing last summer and practice at Harrington Beach State Park in the Town of Belgium and at south beach in Port Washington when weather allows.   

(Lower Photo) IT WAS A little chilly for surfing on Jan. 14, but Jake and Graci Roller braved the waves at Harrington Beach State Park.                                   



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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