XDubai Flyboard Profiles – 2015
Ten ladies will compete at the 2015 XDubai Flyboard World Cup and if the recent NAFBC was any indication they are going to be ripping it up at a very high level. It will be exciting to see how the Pro Series Flyboard influences their riding styles, specifically how the weight might affect big tricks like doubles. H2RO is excited to introduce you to the following competitors:
H2RO World Ranked #1
It’s all about the fearlessness of youth combining with support and access to our sport. It is a this intersection that Fernanda finds herself and she is loving the opportunity. A dedicated hydroflight athlete, her Flyboard skills were on full display at the recent North American Flyboard Championship where she won the title in a very competitive ladies division.
Why She’ll Win: Big tricks coupled with consistency of execution has Fernanda in the perfect position to win the second ever Ladies Flyboard World Cup title. Not afraid to throw tricks from dizzying heights and skilled enough to deliver some high scoring combinations she has all the tools to be at the top of the podium once again.
Why She Won’t: The ladies division is very closely contested and with the introduction of the Pro Series Flyboard we could see athletes that have won on the legend shocked by the advanced flying others can now deliver with the indy feet. Even if Fernanda doesn’t win we expect her to finish very high.
H2RO World Ranked #3
Team Powerfly has a great leader in Kristen Smoyer. A three sport collegiate athlete at UMASS, Kristen finished 3rd at the 2015 North American Flyboard Championship. With a great team around her and solid training leading into the event we expect her aggressive style to be on point and intimidating to the rest of the field.
Why She’ll Win: Kristen can pull from her experience as a show flyer, ensuring she works the crowd and engages the judges, while at the same time rely on her experience with indy feet having had a lot of time on the Jetblade. You can’t fly with Nellie Kubalek and Ben Merrell and not add some serious moves to your repertoire.
Why She Won’t: Kristen will have to battle what every competitor deals with and that is the clock and throwing down a diverse run. If she misses on key elements does she use her time to repeat and try and land them or move on and show the judges a wider array of maneuvers. Those decisions tend to dictate the podium placement.
H2RO World Ranked #4
The world’s first Aquafly Angel, Valentine has been training hard since impressing at the 2015 NAFBC. Her willingness to go big and string multiple tricks together gives her a recipe for high scores. With some competitive experience now to lean on watch for Valentine to take to the Dubai sky a very confident athlete looking to set the bar high right from her first trick.
Why She’ll Win: Much more than just a beauty, though it doesn’t hurt that she creates great lines in the air much like a contemporary dancer, it’s her extensions on dives, spin position and smooth flip technique that equate to a championship package. We are not at all surprised that she caught the eye of Team Aquafly.
Why She Won’t: It may come back to consistency and the ability to execute right out of the gate. She struggled a little bit with her first run in Shreveport and if for some reason had similar issues in the qualifying run in Dubai there are some great ladies that will take full advantage. Valentine will likely benefit from her acquired EMK skills and hopefully every competitor will find their comfort zone quickly on the competition equipment.
H2RO World Ranked #5
Da-Yeob will be looking to get back to her World Championship winning ways in Dubai. Her North American Flyboard Championship experience was tough as she struggled with control and an injury. She has the capability of being a very fluid flyer that transitions smoothly and keeps her landings above the water’s surface.
Why She’ll Win: Similar to Suksan Tongthai, Da-Yeob will be anxious to get back out there and show the world her true skills. She’s gone for doubles in the past and now with the Pro Series we could see some landed. Finally, you can never count out the defending champ.
Why She Won’t: The level of flying from Kim’s win in 2014 to what we’ll see next month is night and day. How has she progressed over the last twelve months and how much time with the indy feet has she had? These are our questions because in Shreveport we didn’t get a chance to see her next level of progression.
H2RO World Ranked #9
I remember last year seeing the video of Yolanda’s first cleanly landed backflip and it wasn’t long after that she was in Dubai competing at the 2014 World Cup. It’s been a year of both professional and personal transition since then and so it will be very interesting to see how her flying and approach to the competition have evolved. She has experience on all the major hydroflight products except the Pro Series Flyboard but at least has a comfort
Why She’ll Win: Experience and showwomanship are both strengths that will serve her well. To battle for top spot takes a great deal of training and it sounds like she’s been putting her time in on the water. What will be very clear is how much fun she will be having out there… because she’ll let you know!
Why She Won’t: The Pro Series board and the full time flyers that have come on the scene in the last year really changed the game in 2015. The fact Yolanda was not a competitor at NAFBC this year and that she was not required to submit a qualifying video means H2RO is really seeing her for the very first time… again.
Great to have Oceane back in a competition. She flew beautifully in the 2013 Flyboard World Cup but has not competed since. A student of Stephane Prayas, Oceane has great technique and never looks off balance with her tricks. Unfortunately we did not get a look at any recent video so are anxious to see where she’s at.
Why She’ll Win: Oceane is another athlete that started young and has been under the tutelage of a World Champion in Stephane Prayas. That combination can produce great results and no doubt she has been watching her fellow competitors closely and has a good sense of what’s needed to battle for top spot.
Why She Won’t: Out of the competitive game for that long means her 2013 experience is basically nullified and she’s coming in with all those first time nerves again. It all depends on how intense her training has been and whether she has the ability to bring something unique to the table.
Hydroflight is very active in Japan and Haruka looks poised to make some noise in the ladies division. Flying on the Pro Series for her qualifying run she delivered some clean singles and a double that just had a hint of a pause between flips. If she can tighten that up even more she’ll have a true double which can become the big climatic moment of each of her runs.
Why She’ll Win: She showed great control with her low altitude flips and obviously has been working with the indy feet so should be able to incorporate some of those spins into her runs. Clean doubles will be very key for a chance at the podium.
Why She Won’t: Lack of diversity in her qualifying video makes me think Haruka susceptible to lower scores if the judges feel like their seeing the same single flip over and over. Subtle variations can be used to break things up and help avoid that backflip fatigue that does set in at times.
Damn. This lady will not be unranked for long. I guess when you’re a professional stuntwoman and black belt in Tae Kwon Do throwing yourself over backwards 40+ feet in the air is how you wind down from the day. She had a qualifying run that we immediately shared on our H2RO Facebook page because it was a top tier performance. You can also just tell that she’s got more in the bag for Dubai.
Why She’ll Win: There are a few elements to her qualifying run that we liked. It’s easy to get hung up on the fact she opened with a double but there was a distinct second push into the second flip and so there’s room to improve. What we liked is that she was spinning both directions out of tricks with the indy feet and dropping into everything with speed. There wasn’t a lot of filler in her run and she looked strong throughout which is a huge advantage, especially in later rounds.
Why She Won’t: We envision Gemma going far for Team PowerFly but to win it all she will not only have to be in attack mode but bring some of her own variations to the show. We also don’t know if the PowerFly skin (or something similar) will be on the skis in Dubai and I think there was definitely one moment in Gemma’s qualifying run where it saved her from pulling over the nose. So, lots to potentially adapt to over there.
Another Team PowerFly powerhouse flyer ready to shake things up at the World Cup. Ronnie Feise has been sharing some secrets and Megan put together a very nice qualifying video with some variations we’re not seeing in the other ladies runs. Even through in a big reverse dive for variety.
Why She’ll Win: Really like the fact that Megan cleanly executed a number of significantly different flip tricks in her qualifying video and when landing some of the more technical variations she didn’t wobble or dive out of landings. She showed great hose management however Ronnie was driving her.
Why She Won’t: Her tempo was a bit slower and more methodical than her teammate Gemma Weston so number of tricks per round might be an issue. We also don’t know where her EMK skills are at so does that mess with her control or empower her to go even bigger. Didn’t see a double so if it’s not in the repertoire what combos make up the difference?
This is our first look at Soléne and she’s got a solid foundation with cleaning landing the usual suspects but her run almost felt like it was on slow motion until her spin dives accelerated out of nowhere and brought her run the energy it was lacking.
Why She’ll Win: Well if she can harness the speed at which she executed her 720 dolphin and apply it to her flip tricks and slalom then her entire run could hold it’s own in a battle. There would also need to be a big trick moment and something unique thrown in for a place on the podium.
Why She Won’t: It’s so hard and really unfair to judge someones flying on one run but it’s all we have to work with. Again we come back to tempo and the fact the qualifying run felt labored. This however is something she can likely address and perhaps a natural remedy will be the adrenaline from the crowd when the horn actually fires at a World Championship.
Well with the H2RO World Ranked #1 Veteran and current World Champion Laurent Calliot unable to compete there will be no repeat and a great opportunity for someone else to step up and take advantage. This group of 40 years + athletes have been blurring the line between Vet and Pro with serious runs going down at the NAFBC and some significant growth during the training for the World Cup.
Fresh off a win at the 2015 Japan Flyboard Cup Dong-won Yang continues to elevate his game landing doubles well above the water and learning from each of his competitive experiences. A very strong athlete he will be taking full advantage of the height amplifiers in place and we saw new tricks like a one and a half emerge during the Japan Championship which is good to see he’s not just sitting back with his same ol’ routine.
Why He’ll Win: Dong-won has lots of competitive experience to reference and has never shied away from going huge with his tricks. He will likely be able to size up his battle rounds pretty effectively and also has learned where to place tricks for the judges to see easiest and play to the crowd when appropriate.
Why He Won’t: I think Yang will have to increase his aggressiveness by shortening the time he takes to set up much more than ever before. This may not feel comfortable as the tempo he works at has been consistent for the last three comps he’s attended. He will also need to avoid missing tricks completely like the superman to double in Japan. Keeping his main tricks clean and above the water and also battling to bring the board underneath on misses will be key to maximizing the judges scores.
H2RO World Ranked #3
Another athlete who impressed in Shreveport and who has now been signed to Team Aquafly, Brandon is certainly benefiting from the training sessions with Pros like Jake Orel and Hunter Verlander. If video clips on his Facebook page are any indication expect huge spin to double combos from full hose. Brandon is a large man but looking light on his feet on that Pro Series Flyboard.
Why He’ll Win: It’s the logical next step for someone who finished second at the 2015 North American Flyboard Championship. It certainly is what Aquafly athletes have on their mind when they train and it helps that both Brandon and Todd Sawisch are training and pushing each other to reach that next level for Dubai.
Why He Won’t: As we’ve said this is a highly competitive division now with some guys attempting triples and Brandon will need to ensure his speed and aggressiveness are up. This will help him get around on his doubles cleanly and veil the fact he is a larger guy by spinning as quickly as his peers.
H2RO World Ranked #5
Affectionately known as ‘The Bull’ Antonio (aka Anthony) actually dresses the part of the Bull Fighter and has been competing and entertaining since H2RO first attended the World Cup in 2013. He had a strong showing at the 2015 NAFBC, even though he was dealing with a knee injury, and finished 3rd.
Why He’ll Win: His experience with knowing how to put together a balanced run will certainly help his chances. Not a flyer who hangs his entire run on one single big moment, Antonio will bring a well rounded arsenal of tricks to each battle.
Why He Won’t: This division has been in a state of hyper-acceleration as the biggest tricks in the game continue to make regular appearances in training videos. Antonio will need to be healthy and at his best in order to pack his run full of points to combat the fact he may not have the biggest combos.
H2RO World Ranked #6
The ‘Mad Doctor’ is fearless out on the water (perhaps because he can repair himself) attempting triples, landing doubles and bringing Pro combinations to the Vet’s table. Now it’s about putting it all together and creating that flow and energy throughout the run so the big moments are not so isolated. That’s when the scores will help this doctor move up in the rankings.
Why He’ll Win: Joining Team Aquafly and polishing these big tricks with the insights from his teammates. His willingness to fly most of his run at great heights will add to his points and we expect more diversity from Todd as the rounds progress.
Why He Won’t: It’s a question of makes and misses and the time remaining to go for it again. If a big set up occurs for a huge combo the risk involved is if the landing is far from clean. Todd will need to stomp a few key moments in each run to ensure the time was well spent.
H2RO World Ranked #7
A physical beast, Robert took advantage of his strength during the North American Flyboard Championship when he would throw fully laid out superman’s and use that leg strength to pull the board quickly back under himself in a smooth motion. He also added some finesse with toe touch dives and grab backflips. He’ll need it all in Dubai.
Why He’ll Win: It seems like Robert is just on the verge of a breakout performance as he has the athleticism to attempt tricks other Vets won’t try, or simply make the trick look much more effortless than his peers. His variations were good that will need to continue to expand for a chance at the podium.
Why He Won’t: Landings. Balance on his landings is inconsistent and so it doesn’t allow for ease of transition and comboing tricks. It also decreases his tricks score even if the everything else was clean. We also noticed he had to pull out of some double attempts at NAFBC and those will need to be finished off in Dubai to take the crown.
H2RO World Ranked #8
The inspiring Simon Desira. A veteran who continues to prove that age is but a number. Simon is a methodical and controlled rider who showed in his qualifying video that his average trick height has most definitely gone up. He served up a beautiful layout and was on the Pro Series incorporating some spins into this combos.
Why He’ll Win: The great thing about Simon is what he attempts to execute, he will execute and the only question then becomes was his degree of difficulty high enough for a win. His qualifying video showed how balanced and solid his landings are and that he was pushing his flying to include a double which would be important in Dubai. He’s also a very smart Flyboard mind and so will likely have a secret weapon under his vest if needed.
Why He Won’t: The two areas where Simon might be leaving some points on the table were with the speed between tricks in his spin combo and his double attempt. Perhaps he’s just begun working on his double which is why it is still transitioning from the back-to-back feel which is where everyone starts. He will need to tune this up for Dubai and use it. The second area, and this can more easily be addressed, is moving from his indy feet spins into his flip with no pause in between. Seamless transitions is what makes a combo… a combo.
Mark and Sabrina Baxter have been pioneers in our industry with their company PowerFly Products and are leading a team of impressive athletes into this year’s World Cup. Mark will be competing for the first time as he was injured during last June’s NAFBC. As with any first competitive runs it’s how you handle the moment and how close you can stick to your game plan.
Why He’ll Win: With only Mark’s qualifying run to review I would personally be focused on a level of execution type of goal rather than the podium. A great run would be nailing every trick that was planned even if the sum of the points isn’t up with the top Vets yet. Some nice spin to backflip combos were big moments in his qualifying video and perhaps the adrenaline of the moment will result in some new territory being explored.
Why He Won’t: There just wasn’t enough variety in the video to show us where the points would come from. He has a nice superman but needs to do more into it or out of it when he employs it multiple times. Again, I think Dubai is an opportunity to have fun, get a chance to compete and lead his team both on and off the water.
We had never heard the name Ali Komsusu and when we saw his qualifying video we were a bit confused as to why he would only submit 50 seconds when you’re allowed to use 2 minutes to show off your skills. It was clear in that 50 seconds that he was very comfortable with the EMK and flew with speed. The flips were big, clean and he spun out of them with showed good control and balance… but that was all there was. This almost cost Ali as he was not on the original event roster but as a last addition I’m interested to really see what he’s capable of.
Why He’ll Win: As an unknown he has no pressure and is in a great position to simply come in under the radar and shock the judges and his fellow competitors. His video was in a pool doing a show for a crowd so it seems he has experience entertaining which he can employ in Dubai. Basically we didn’t see enough from the video to say he has a shot at winning but what we did see looked solid and so those skills should translate into a reasonable repertoire of tricks.
Why He Won’t: Flying shows you never really stray from your comfort zone. For one you want to ensure you look in control for the crowd and two if you’re flying in pools with limited space you want to be as safe as you can. What that leads to is confidence with a core set of skills that are cool but once you get to the World Championship you realize everyone else has those same skills and more. So, what do you do then? If you decide to push your limits but haven’t prepared that’s when skis flip or falls happen. Should be exciting to see what his full potential is.
Another athlete we were seeing and hearing about for the first time with his qualifying video, Nelson showed us some big potential opening with a solid double and some very nice descending spins. He flew aggressively but his run was far from clean and so even with a driver he looked a little unpolished. The good thing is that tuning up the smaller details is likely much more doable than trying to add a double last minute before Dubai. If he lands things clean while still going big he should score well.
Why He’ll Win: Nelson looked athletic during his qualifying video meaning he was whipping the board around aggressively and squatting into spins that helped speed up the rotations. Very little pause on his double was great to see and so if he doesn’t have trouble with the transition to the EMK then he should be a contender.
Why He Won’t: Anyone who is driven in their qualifying video makes me thing how much EMK experience does he have and if it’s limited that really is a challenge during your first run. Usually the first 3o seconds guys are trying to figure out the power and it can mess with your head and put you off balance out of the gate. The other challenge is we have judges who are not fooled when athletes dive out of tricks because they’re actually falling. It was the superman to backflip example in his video that showed us there is another level to get to in order to compete with the best Vets in the world.
Looks like Vladimir has been putting in some real work on the board. His World Cup qualifying video was limited in terms of variation of tricks but the fact he nailed two beautiful doubles, spun with speed and extended on his superman just showed the kind of control we know can put points on the board. He flew himself and will likely feel warm and comfortable in the UAE heat next week.
Why He’ll Win: Landing true doubles means that by adding a simple spin out of them you’ve got a serious combo in your run. These are the additions that Vladimir looks more than capable of making for Dubai. He will have to up his tempo and reduce his set up time but looks like his fundamentals are strong.
Why He Won’t: If I may compare competitive hydroflight to music for a second I will say that competitors can go out and learn a cover tune note for note and play it perfectly. That means they perfect the established tricks and worked to execute them exactly as they were intended. You can also write your own song(s), improvise and jam. This occurs when guys get creative using pieces of established tricks but adding their own flavor in such a way that we feel they’ve communicated something about themselves to us that we hadn’t seen (heard) before. Vladimir and everyone else in this competition need to find a way to do both.