He Was Born to Leave Them in His Wake
Parks Bonifay has been leaving people in his wake practically since birth. His parents were professional show skiers who made their son an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records by placing him on water skis at the tender age of 6 months and 29 days.
Bonifay marvels at video footage of becoming the youngest skier, with his tiny feet planted in training skis and his father poised to jump in after him at the first hint of trouble.
“It looked like a safe procedure -- somewhat,” Bonifay recalled, laughing.
Bonifay made a seamless transition to wakeboarding at age 12, entering a national junior competition one week after picking up the sport.
Bonifay won a world title a month later and won the inaugural X Games wakeboarding crown -- at age 14 -- in 1996. He has since won acclaim as the only competitor to complete a 1,080-degree flip on film and perform what he refers to as a “double back full twist” in competition.
“It’s pretty cool that I get to travel and wakeboard and see all these cool spots,” said Bonifay, 23, an Orlando, Fla., resident who lists Tahiti and Hawaii as his favorite destinations. “I got to see the world by the time I was 23.”
Bonifay won a second X Games title in 1999, is a five-time Pro Tour champion and has competed in every X Games except 2000, when he was sidelined with torn cartilage in his right knee.
Bonifay bruised a bone in his right knee in March while competing in the Dominican Republic and conceded that he is at less than full strength heading into this week’s X Games.
“I’ve been able to tell in the last few contests that my legs aren’t really there,” he said.
If Bonifay can’t push defending champion Phillip Soven, then perhaps his younger brother, Shane Bonifay, can. Shane, 21, has been a pro wakeboarder since he was 15 and has finished as high as second in the X Games.