Scott Callens looks like he could be one of the hot shots riding at the skatepark at Walter E. Hall Park in Everett. He stands on his board, doing a series of tricks where he uses his feet to flip and twist his board into the air before landing back on the board as it reorients itself to the surface.
The difference? Callens’ board has no wheels and isn’t on concrete. Instead, Callens is indoors standing on a rush of moving water, performing his tricks on the Snohomish Aquatic Center’s wave machine known as a FlowRider.
The USA Flow Tour arrives in Snohomish on Saturday, and in Callens Snohomish County can lay claim to one of the nation’s top flowboarders, an extreme sport that, while small, is gaining in popularity.
Callens, a 23-year-old who lives in Marysville, has competed nationally on the Flow Tour, and he’ll be among the favorites in Saturday’s pro-am competition, which takes place from noon to 6 p.m. at the Snohomish Aquatic Center.
And while Callens may be a top competitor, he’s also an ambassador for a sport that’s only beginning to hit its stride.
“It’s like skateboarding or snowboarding on water,” Callens explains. “It’s just an artificial way of going about 30 mph and you get the same pop as a snowboard or skateboard. You get the same thrill, except you’re not going down a mountain, or you don’t have to make the drive. That’s why I fell in love with it.”
The FlowRider is an indoor wave machine that generates a strong water current flowing up a short hill. The effect is something akin to the combination of riding down a mountain on a snowboard or riding a wave on a boogie board. It’s used for both flowboarding (standing on the board) and bodyboarding (lying on the board), and there’s little danger of injury from falling as the floor of the machine has a trampoline-like give.
When it comes to flowboarding, which is judged on a 10-point scale, Callens is one of the best. The Texas native relocated to Washington state a year-and-a-half ago to be closer to his brother. The reason he chose Marysville as his landing spot? It’s proximity to Snohomish Aquatic Center’s FlowRider.
Callens first encountered a FlowRider in Plano, Texas, six years ago.
“I actually had never skateboarded, never snowboarded,” Callens said. “I didn’t have any balance from any other board sports.
“Right when I got on I knew I loved it,” Callens added. “I got a job at the place. Basically I tried it, applied, and got the job so I could start teaching and really integrate myself and start riding every day.”
Now Callens, who serves as a flowboard instructor at the Snohomish Aquatic Center, competes professionally on the Flow Tour, which is making its second stop in Snohomish.
The Snohomish Aquatic Center has had a FlowRider since it opened in January of 2014, and the facility’s administration was looking for ways to raise the FlowRider’s profile. Therefore, aquatics director Rob Serviss and business manager Nathan Daly traveled to Las Vegas to meet with Flow Tour officials. The result was a small event that took place last year and served as a trial run. That competition drew about 40 competitors and went well enough that the Flow Tour stepped up a level to bring a pro-am event to Snohomish this year.
It’s hoped this year’s competition, which includes professionals and amateurs in a range of age categories, will feature about double the number of competitors.
“The Flow Tour has been amazing for us,” Snohomish Aquatic Center supervisor Chris Bensen said. “We did it last year just to draw attention, and the level of talent that came out was impressive. Even our amateurs, kids who started with us who couldn’t do more than bodyboarding, are now standing up and walking away with a medal.
“Seeing Scott and some of the guys from out of state who can do tricks on the board is really cool for the kids.”
Saturday’s competition is expected to include competitors from as far away as California and Utah. Callens said Daniel Tarapchak, who was the Flow Tour’s midseason points leader in Pro Bodyboard, will be on hand while Sean Silveira, third in Men’s Pro Flowboard, may also show up.
“People will be throwing down a lot of flips, flipping over — I call it controlled chaos,” Callens said. “You’ll see a lot of boards flying around and whatnot, but people will be landing some pretty cool stuff.”
Including Callens, who has helped put Snohomish County on the national flowboarding map.