When Kelowna’s H2O Fitness and Adventure Centre unveiled Canada’s first ever indoor wave simulator in 2009, Jason Moore and his family were immediately intrigued by the possibilities.
Three years later, the Moores are among North America’s most skilled and successful competitors in the burgeoning sport of flowboarding.
Jason and three of his children—Madi, 16, and twins Jaxon and Keaton, 13—spent the summer cleaning up on the U.S. Flow Tour making stops in California, New Jersey, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia and in Orlando for the U.S. nationals.
After nearly three months on the road, Jason returned home as the masters champion, Jaxon won the men’s open and junior division, Keaton grabbed the overall mixed youth title, while Madi finished third overall in the women’s open category.
“It was a real family adventure for us,” said Yvette Moore, Jason’s wife and mother of the three kids who was on tour every step of the way. “They made a real name for themselves on tour. Jason and the kids put Canada on the flowboarding map. Now athletes from down there want to come up here after what they’ve seen.”
Described by some as a combination of surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding and skimboarding, flowboarding is considered an alternative or extreme sport where competitors ride on indoor FlowRiders or Waves. Sheet waves, travelling at speeds of 50 to 70 km/h are created to replicate the shape of ocean waves, allowing the rider to surf in place and perform tricks.
First built by American company Wave Loch in the early 1990s, there are now more than 200 waves of various designs in the U.S. and another three in Canada.
The sport is also growing quickly in other parts of the world, such as Australia, South Africa and Singapore.
A snowboarder and former North American champion in boardercross in the 1990s and, before that, an avid skateboarder, Jason comes by his success in flowboarding naturally.
Moore knows firsthand the satisfaction and fulfillment that excelling in sports can bring and wants his children to experience the same lifestyle he did.
“When this sport booms, like I know it will, they can all have a career like I did,” said Moore. “There’s nothing like having a chance to compete at a high level and travel the world at the same time. I teach them how to compete, my wife teaches them to be humble. It’s a good combination.”
Since first stepping into a FlowRider in 2009, all four Moores have steadily and surely honed their skills to world class levels.
The combination Jason’s coaching and mentoring, some natural talent, and a massive amount of practice time and repetition have all played into the family’s success in the sport.
Living in Kelowna has also served as a distinct advantage for the Moores who train almost on a daily basis, all year around at H2O.
“Most of the waves in the U.S. are privately owned, people have to pay $30 to $40 an hour, so it can get very expensive,” Moore said. “For us, we have our gym passes anyway, so we have unlimited use of the wave. We can use it all year long, anytime. It’s as good as it can possibly be for us.”
The countless hours on the wave are clearly paying dividends for Jaxon. He was unbeatable on tour this season, and next year plans to step up to the pro division as a 14-year-old.
Jaxon has been compared to snowboarding’s Shaun White and skateboarding’s Ryan Sheckler when it comes the star-status he’s expected to attain in his chosen sport in the years to come.
So far the expectations have done little to faze the somewhat shy, soft-spoken Jaxon who, despite the stakes involved, continues to enjoy all the sport has to offer.
“I started out doing it for fun,” said Jaxon, “it got more and more serious and now I do it everyday. Sometimes it seems like work, but mostly it’s fun. It’s exciting to think about what might happen in the future.”
“Jaxon is a super humble kid,” adds Jason. “He’s a guy of very few words. He does his speaking on the wave.”
Five-time North American and three-time world flowboarding champ Sean Silveira has seen the Moores at work on the wave and can’t help but be impressed by their skill and enthusiasm.
And while their natural talent and hard work are obvious at first glance, Silveira says it’s the Moore family’s collective personality and zest for life that make them a unique entity in the sport.
“They’re one of the closest families I’ve ever met, and they basically open their arms to anyone,” said Silveira. “Jaxon reminds me myself when I was young, he’s going to do some amazing things in the future, he’ll probably be world champion. The girls (Madi and Keaton) are so much fun, too, they’re open to anything. Jason’s such a great guy, so those kids are in good hands. They all really love the sport and with the background they have, I expect them to do well in it for a long time.”
While flowboarding has yet to gain the widespread popularity of its close relatives—such as snowboarding and skateboarding—the Moores are confident the sport will continue to gain recognition on a global scale.
And with flowboarding soon expected to be added to the X Games lineup, possibly as early as 2014, Yvette Moore says the sky should be the limit.
“It’s seen huge growth just in the last year, the venues that are out there now, the competitions, it’s very exciting for us,” said Yvette Moore. “It’s becoming a mainstream sport and our kids are at a prime age. If it gets into the X Games, you know it’s going to take another big step forward.”
One of the challenges the Moores face by putting their domestic and professional lives on hold for three months of the year is how to make financial ends meet.
Prize money currently awarded on the flowboarding tour is minimal, so landing sponsors is a vital component of the Moores future plans.
“It’s not about the prize money right now, it’s about getting the experience and pushing the sport to a whole new level, to where I think it should be. Getting sponsorship is huge for us right now. We’re trying to get our kids to a level where they can be in the top echelon, get paid a little, and start collecting sponsors as the sport grows,” said Jason Moore, whose family currently gets sponsorship assistance from Island Snow, Deviate, Vampt and Mypakage.com.
“The money that’s coming our of our pocket now, we feel is a long-term investment.”
And regardless of where the flowboarding adventure leads for the Moores in the months and years to come, Jason plans to enjoy and appreciate every step of his family’s journey.
“To coach the kids, to see them everyday on the wave, to see how strong and healthy they are is really a wonderful thing. To see them compete and pulling in gold medals, there’s nothing more rewarding.
“And to have Yvette there, looking after us and supporting us, it’s invaluable. That’s why we’re winning.”
The Moore family’s competitive flowboarding experience will resume next month when they travel to Salt Lake City for the World Flowboarding Championships, Oct. 12 and 13.