Kristen ‘The Destroyer’ Smoyer
You will be hard pressed to find anyone male or female who flies with more intensity than Kristen Smoyer. Her nickname ‘The Destroyer’ says it all really. An intense competitor, her passion for Hydroflight can be seen and felt both on and off the water. 2015 was a big year for Smoyer as she found the podium in both Pro Flyboarding events and has kept very busy flying in shows/demos around the world. Enjoy a look at some of Kristen’s highlights from her 2015 XDubai Flyboard World Cup runs and then our exclusive interview with this former UMASS Minutewomen.
H2RO MAGAZINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH KRISTEN SMOYER
H2RO) Kristen, please share with us your background. Where you grew up and your sports background prior to hydroflight.
My Father was in the military so I really grew up all over: Michigan, Ohio, Alaska, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. My parents always supported me as a young girl to participate in competitive swimming, basketball, soccer, baseball, and softball. I had a passion for competitive sports which followed me to college at UMASS where I played basketball, softball, and soccer.
H2RO) How did you get introduced to the world of Hydroflight Sports and what was your first few experiences flying like?
I was introduced to the sport by Nellie Kubalek, she took me flying the first time. Initially I thought it was fun but had no real interest in progressing. It wasn’t until May 2014 when Mark Baxter from PowerFly Products approached me and asked if I was willing to compete at the North American Flyboard Championship. He believed in me and helped me train to compete in the event. I instantly fell in love with flying, competing against myself, and the challenge of progressing. Ben Merrell worked very closely with me on fundamentals before NAFBC and pushed me to fly higher, go faster, and go bigger.
H2RO) What is it about flying that has you so hooked and why do you believe your sport will be the next big thing?
There is something so powerful that brews inside me to constantly beat myself. Every time I train I push myself past my comfort zone. I have built a family in this sport that believe in me and have made such a huge impact on my life in and out of the water. That keeps me hooked. There is no other feeling then when you fall ten times trying the same trick and finally nail it. The sport has so many different aspects it is visually stunning to crowds, at times breathtaking, it is daring, there is a competitive nature, and always new developments. To me this sport is a big thing already I live in the flying world.
H2RO) Please introduce us to your favorite tricks and how each progressed from first attempt to what you’re able to land now.
My favorite trick is the Superman 360 to backflip. The reason it is my favorite is because I know what it took to land the first one. I struggled with this trick, Gemma Weston can account for that! Slamming an injured chest several times, trying to catch my breath, and fighting my natural instinct to just move on to another trick. Every time I lean back on my set up I get butterflies in my stomach knowing I got this now. I can constantly tweak this trick to improve on it as well, it is definitely not something I have mastered but intend to keep trying.
H2RO) Every athlete needs a support system so talk to us about your training partners and sponsors both past and present who’ve played a significant role in your development.
Wow, I have received so much support in my development as a flier. Mark and Sabrina Baxter with Powerfly Products have helped me so much always being there for me, in the cold, rain, good times, and bad times. They have pushed me and given me the most powerful kind of support…they believe in me. Ben Merrell is my hydro-soulmate. He knows what drives me, how to push me, and encourages me. Callon Burns has been there since training for NAFBC reviewing video with me and walking me through step by step to help conquer different tricks. Ronnie “The Punisher” Feise is such a constant inspiration to me. He coached me through some really difficult times and no matter where I was he always had my back. Gemma Weston…. I can’t say enough about the support she gave me. She is my best friend and there were many times I would be sitting at the dock frustrated with a day of training and the get off the phone with her wanting to throw my ski back in the water and own the trick that was beating me at the time. She watched hours upon hours of video with me and encouraged me constantly. My biggest fan and support is my six year old son Jaxon he is always so proud of me no matter what place I come in. He is my rock and motivation showing to him in life you have to work hard to get where you want to be. Ugo, P1 Superstock, Aqua X, and Jet Tribe have all stepped up in sponsoring me as an athlete and a person which drives me to bring on the intensity.
H2RO) Our sport is progressing so fast and currently we have a Pro Division, Veteran’s Division (over 40 years old) and Ladies Division. The lines are certainly blurring quickly between these divisions as the flying gets better and better across the board. What do you think of these current divisions and do you think there are some ladies that might begin to think about shooting for the Pro podium?
Very simply put the ladies division and veterans division are “Pro” divisions. I think we all proved that. Enough said.
H2RO) You fly a lot of demonstrations and shows, do you have any crazy stories from those experiences that you can share? Any highlights?
I have had amazing experiences. Last year with Aqua X I had the opportunity to fly at the Sarasota Grand Prix with over 250,000 people, it was like no other experience. The craziest experience I have had is flying in a 2.5 ft deep pool at a boat show last year about 30 feet high to get the crowd going on the bridge. One of the most exciting demonstrations I did was with P1 Superstock in Tavares Florida where we hooked the BBTalkin connector set into the racing PA enabling me to communicate with the crowd.
H2RO) You flew as part of Team Powerfly at the 2015 XDubai Flyboard World Cup and at that event employed some new helmet communication technology. What are your thoughts on its place as a training tool and also its use in competitions?
BBtalkin has completely changed the way I fly, providing me with immediate instruction from teammates and coaches. I am hooked! The real time hands-free communication enhances the learning curve from beginner to even pro fliers. For demonstrations and shows it is a game changer especially with multiple fliers enabling communication between fliers and on shore. As for competition I used to listen to music but now listen to my teammate or coach for encouragement and support. Throughout the evolution of sports communication has boosted performance this includes racing, wind surfing, surfing, and snowboarding. The best part about it is frequently I connect through Bluetooth to my phone and can even answer calls or listen to my music while flying.
H2RO) Your good friend Gemma Weston was really impressive winning the Ladies Division in Dubai, what were you able to teach her during training and what were you able to learn from her at the same time?
I don’t know if I would say I taught her anything. We both learned together, from each other, and from ourselves. She is not only an impressive flier but an absolutely phenomenal person. She taught me just as much off the water as on the water.
H2RO) You have experience flying many different products, can you share with us some of the differences you’ve noticed between each and any innovation you would like to see on new boards?
I have had the experience of flying many different devices. I love to fly, love to be in the air. Each product is a little different in size, design, and weight. There are plenty of good products out there. For break outs in training for fun I love flying the ZR Jet Pack it is an absolute blast. Still have not had a chance to try the old school hand wands “stabilizers” but looking forward to that one day. Personally I prefer the Pro Series board with independent feet, light weight, and plus it looks really cool which is always a plus.
H2RO) Finally, I always like when athletes share a flying tip with the readers so can you give us one beginner and one advanced tip that we can employ the next time we hit the water.
My advice is always the same for beginners and pros, know your skill set, don’t try to attempt something outside your level of progression. If you fall get back up that’s what separates you, it is your level of determination that can make you or break you “it’s whats inside.”
Truth! Thanks very much for your time Kristen and we hope 2016 is another year full of great flying experiences.
High five to Jaxon!
(Homepage cover image of Kristen at XDFWC courtesy of Aquafly)