COLUMN: The art of ascension

Star reporter Will Johnson checks in on the local flyboard company hoping to operate out of Kootenay Lake.

It took Will Johnson approximately ten minutes to figure out how to achieve ascension with a flyboard

Imagine you’re cheekbone-deep in Kootenay Lake, nervously sculling in place, while underneath you a jetpack begins to rev. Core tight, breath held, you feel the water rumble-churn beneath your feet. Slowly you begin to ascend into midair, the surface falling away from you on all sides.

It’s at this point you remember to shift your balance slightly forward, putting pressure on your toes, as the Seadoo-powered jets of water transform you from a wetsuit-clad dope into a bonafide superhero soaring ten feet about the surface.

For a moment it seems like you might be able to float up the slope of Elephant Mountain, like you could leisurely coast over the Big Orange Bridge and into the fog-misted Selkirks.

Then you belly-flop. Hard.

By mistake you bent your knees, which sent you into a jet-propelled spiral, and now you float facedown trying to remember how to breathe. Will this be like water skiing as a kid, where you never successfully mastered it and returned to the shore defeated? Will you be bested by this piece of machinery?

No, you refuse.

Instead you take deep nostril-shots of the mountain air, stretch your arms Superman-like in front of you, and prep for the next burst of power. And each time you try, each time you go up then come back down, the 60-foot hose that connects you to the Seadoo begins to get further and further out of the water.

Finally, on your fifth or sixth attempt you find something that resembles stability as you near a 25-foot elevation and let out a Tarzan-like yodel. The feeling may vary from person to person, but it’s some variation on this theme: I am a God.

Honestly, this doesn’t feel like it should be real. Isn’t there some law of nature that’s being broken here? Even bungee jumping, skydiving these activities take advantage of the laws of nature, rather than subverting them. If you want to be hyperbolic about it, this is an example of technology triumphing over human limitation —literally giving you the opportunity to fly.

By the time you’ve reached the end of 20 minutes, taking a few breaks and getting pro-tips from your instructor, you’re feeling trembly and water-slapped but also energized, your cheeks flushed and heartbeat thrumming in your neck. As you propel yourself back towards the dock your thoughts inevitably turn to the life you’ve left behind onshore, the one where you’ve got an office waiting and a job to do.

But before that moment comes, as you’re finally starting to master how to deke back and forth skateboard-like across the surface, you pump your fists in the air and mug for the camera the key to crafting your pre-planned Facebook post. It doesn’t hurt that the wetsuit kind of makes you look like a chubbier Deadpool.

Finally, heave-panting, you go slack as an enthusiastic group of onlookers drag you back on to the dock and congratulate you for the performance. Even though you’re in reasonably good shape, it’s still going to be at least half an hour until your heart rate returns to normal and longer before you come down from the life high of achieving ascension.

This is the experience Dustin Jay wants to give Nelsonites with Kootenay Flyboard, a new company launching on Saturday from Lakeside Park. He first discovered the sport while on vacation in Mexico, and the 32-year-old has made it his life’s passion to bring it to Canada. He’s invited Mayor Deb Kozak, chamber boss Tom Thomson and anyone else to come down to Lakeside first thing on Saturday to see what it’s all about.

Having teamed up with local businessman Steve Ramsbottom, Jay plans to run Kootenay Flyboard out of a pontoon boat that will float back and forth across Kootenay Lake. It promises to make a great spectator sport for people from Railtown to Chahko Mika Mall and all the way to Lakeside Park. They plan to run the business seven days a week and ultimately expand to further lakes in the area.

It might be you’re only interested in gathering onshore, watching as enthusiasts attempt back-flips and dolphin dives. But maybe, if you gather up enough courage, it could be you hurtling action hero-like across the face of Elephant Mountain.

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