SUP Women | Lexi Alston: A 14-year-old Front Runner
Lexi Alston is only 14 years old, but you wouldn't know that if you caught a glimpse of her in the lineup or watched her race. Alston is as fierce a competitor as they come. At the 2016 Pacific Paddle Games presented by Salt Life, she set foot on the line as one of the youngest competitors in the Pro division and took home and impressive 12th-place overall finish against the top racers in the world. Here, the Dana Point local shares some of her favorite things about standup paddling, the challenges of balancing school and training and what it's like racing against some of the biggest names in the sport. Keep your eyes peeled for big things from this grom. She's clearly going places. –RP
Tell us about your first experience with SUP.
My first time paddling was in Hawaii on a family vacation in 2009 and then later in Boston. After that, I was hooked on the idea of paddling. I didn't know it was a sport until I came home and hopped on a board that was much slimmer than any board I had ever been on; that's when I started my journey with standup paddling.
What do you love about SUP?
I love that there are so many upcoming athletes in the younger division of SUP because I see myself in them and remember how I used to be at their level. The sport will only evolve more and this is just the start of something bigger for future generations.
Who do you mostly train with?
I have been jumping between training groups, but I mostly train with [Hobie team member] Byron Kurt. When the group is small there can be less competition to train with, but that helps you learn to push yourself even when others are not around.
You're only 14 years old. What's it like competing against some of the stars of the sport?
Competing with some of the biggest names can be flustering sometimes, but at the end of the day I realize that I am just a kid and the most important part of the sport is having fun.
Is it tough balancing school and training?
I'm attending Dana Hills High School as a freshman this year. I do surf team in the morning on Tuesday and Thursday and either paddler or surf after school every day. Now that the number of races are declining it isn't as hard to balance paddling and school. But during the big races I sometimes have to leave school and make up the work that I missed, which is not easy a lot of the time.
What have been some of your biggest accomplishments this past year?
My biggest achievements last year would have to be my performances at PPG, placing 11th in the technical race. I was in 8th place until the very last seconds when three people caught a wave and beat me on the run to the finish. I was disappointed with that, but it felt good during the race. I also had many great showings at events throughout California such as the SUP Fiesta, Battle of the Bay, San Clemente OceanFest and Mongoose Cup.
What are your goals for next year?
I want to continue improving and keep up with the competition. I want to focus more on surfing, while still improving in standup paddling.
Tell us your craziest paddling story.
My biggest flop would actually have to be at Doheny. I was trying to jump off the backside of a wave, but the wave crashed early, sending my board just centimeters away from my eye. Luckily I was not seriously hurt, but I ended up getting four stitches in my face.
We hear you mom claims you have the best hair in SUP. Thoughts?
In my opinion Izzi Gomez has the best hair 🙂
Another teenage superstar: Izzi Gomez