Contrary to what his accomplishments might suggest, Jonathan Hintz insists he wasn’t a natural.
It would seem patience, persistence and passion to have more to do with the Lake Country teen’s success in the world of professional flowboarding.
“When I first started (flowboarding), I was terrible,” said Hintz, who turns 17 on Dec. 1. “When I look back to that time, I never, ever expected I would come this far. But I never grew tired of it, I stuck with it and I just love it. I’m doing well at it too, so that’s a bonus.”
To say Hintz is succeeding in flowboarding could be regarded as a bit of an understatement. The Grade 11 student at George Elliot Secondary School is coming off a bronze medal performance earlier this month at the 2017 world flowboarding championships in Cancun, Mexico.
In his home country, Hintz has also earned the title of Canada’s best body boarder two years running, in 2016 and 2017.
The youngest athlete on the professional flowboarding scene, Hintz competes at a handful of events each year on the North American pro circuit.
In flowboarding, competitors ride on 30 km/hr artificial waves created by a machine called a FlowRider. Flow riders get their speed from the energy of the flowing water, and can perform basic to sophisticated turns and tricks within a relatively small area.
Four years ago, Hintz began his flowboarding journey at the H2O Adventure and Fitness Centre in Kelowna. Based solely on the time committed to his craft, it’s little wonder he has become one of North America’s top riders.
“I sometimes spend three hours riding the bus, 1 1/2 hours each way, and some days I’d be there (at H20) six to eight hours,” said Hintz, also a guitar player who passes the time on the bus listening to music. “It’s taken a lot of practise to get where I am. It’s not like snowboarding or skateboarding, the balance and the way you ride is unlike anything else.
“It was a sport I had to learn from basically from scratch.”
Hintz grew up idolizing legends of the sport like Nick Nguyen, Nick Sanchez and Brad Spencer. Now he’s alongside them, competing for the world’s biggest titles.
“It’s pretty incredible to think they were my idols, now we’re all friends,” he said. “It’s been a massive learning curve, but now I’m there with those guys. I’m gaining more confidence all the time.”
Hintz plans to go after the three-peat as Canada’s top body boarder in 2018.
Based on his body of work to date, there’s every reason to believe the Lake Country teen will continue to ride along at the top of his sport.
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