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Spicer native Score in wakeboard nationals

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By Michael Weiss, Special to the Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS -- Hundreds of professional and amateur wakeboarders will travel from all over the United States to Minneapolis this week to compete in the 2011 Nautique WWA Wakeboard National Championships Wednesday through Sunday.

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But no one has had a longer journey to the Championships than 21-year-old Minnesota native Alexa Score.

Score grew up in Spicer, where she and her family would spend countless hours water skiing on Green Lake. By the age of 9, Score proved to be a natural on the water, forming pyramids and barefooting in weekly ski shows with the Little Crow Water Ski Team.

It wasn't until Score turned 10 that her interest in water skiing suddenly shifted to a new sport -- wakeboarding.

"At the time, I had spent my whole life water skiing and that's all I knew," said Score. "But one day, my older sister, Tiff, took me wakeboarding with some friends, and it just grew from there."

By the time she turned 16 years old, Score was performing inverts and wake-to-wake tricks on her wakeboard during the summer, and spending her winters on the New London-Spicer High School gymnastics team.

"There's a lot of crossover between gymnastics and wakeboarding," said Score. "Both require a lot of balance and body control, so it was a fun way to keep active when it was too cold to wakeboard."

But in 2006, Score's passion for spins and inverts was put on hold when she was diagnosed with leukemia.

"I just remember being in the hospital, listening to the doctor talk about a bone marrow transplant, which would essentially cause me to lose a year of my life in recovering from the procedure," said Score. "It was at that moment that I was determined to get better."

Score's determination, combined with chemotherapy, pushed her wakeboarding wishes to the next level. In 2007, Score had graduated from high school a semester early so she could move with her older sister, Tiffany, to the mecca of wakeboarding -- Orlando, Fla.

"I wanted to be able to wakeboard all the time, so I knew I had to move to Orlando," said Score. "It just felt right."

Score spent five months in Orlando, riding as much as she could before returning to her home state to attend the University of Minnesota.

As a college freshman in 2008, Score signed up to compete in two local amateur wakeboard contests -- taking first place in both events. After winning those competitions, Score was inspired to attend the 2008 Pro Wakeboard Tour stop in nearby Shoreview, Minn., to watch the best riders in the world compete.

"Seeing the Pro Tour in Minnesota really got me pumped to go riding," said Score. "Before I knew, I was back in Orlando."

In 2009, Score transferred to the University of Central Florida and returned to Orlando to pursue a life of wakeboarding.

After a year of training in Orlando, Score entered the 2010 Nautique WWA Wakeboard Nationals in Reno, Nev., and took first place in the Amateur Women's division. Many would consider Score's national title to be the apex her wakeboard career; she, on the other hand, proved that it was only the beginning.

Score is now a rookie in Pro Women's Queen of Wake series and currently ranks in ninth place overall. At 1:30 p.m. Friday Score will compete for the Pro Women's U.S. national title.

"I'm so excited to be able to compete in front of all my friends and family," said Score.

The Nautique WWA Wakeboard National Championships, presented by Rockstar Energy Drink, will feature 23 pro and amateur divisions. The event takes place, starting today, on the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis, off West River Parkway between Plymouth and Broadway avenues.

-- Michael Weiss works in public relations for the Bonnier Corporation in Winter Park, Fla.

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