A Flyboard Front Flip. Wow. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
I’m sitting in the Amsterdam airport and marveling at the chat I’ve just had with XDubai Flyboard World Cup competitor T.J Andrews who is on the same flight route as myself. Coming into the 2015 NAFBC T.J tells me he had only flown a few times. I say that’s crazy. He adds that he was instructing but didn’t have many opportunities on the board himself before he was told he was going to Shreveport to compete. Makes his Infinity Flip and front twisting flip variation all the more impressive. It got me imagining what this Pro Snowboarder will have in his bag of tricks for XDFWC and what secrets all of the competitors have been keeping for this week.
One secret that has rocked the hydroflight world since its publication is Stephane Prayas successfully landing a front flip (known as the ‘Prayas’). The impossible, has just become reality. It’s amazing to watch, as since Toronto in 2014, we’ve been debating how it might be possible and what technique you would have to employ just to get close to making the jet pressure work for you instead of against you with that move.
What the Flyboard front flip also does is inspire the imaginations of all involved in our sport. There has been no shortage of incredible innovation ever since top athletes got their feet into the Pro Series Flyboard. Within a few months we started to talk about quads, huge triple combinations, double cork supermans and other radically advanced tricks. There is nothing that gets our H2RO blood pumping faster than seeing our sport take another leap forward and this week in Dubai will be the highlight of our year.
I have about four hours to sit here and think about what might happen during qualifying and how that will impact the battle round pairings. The entire competition, in every division, is packed with world-class talent and the judges are going to have the incredibly difficult task of not just evaluating tricks they’re familiar with but the creativity and variations that will be on display for the first time. I believe some video replay will be employed when needed and with height multipliers in place and a commitment to rewarding going BIG we should see the very best that these athletes have to offer.
I am also holding my breath more than before any other competition thinking about the safety of the athletes and the risk that is very real when pushing the envelope of a sport so aggressively forward. I’m knocking on wood and wishing every competitor a safe and exciting experience that has them leaving proud of their accomplishments and as healthy as they were when they arrived.