Get to Know Lake Placid Flyboarder Kristen Smoyer and her “HYDRO-SOULMATES”

By Rebecca Maglischo
Photos Courtesy Kristen Smoyer

Some people enter this world to walk the paths laid out for them. Others come into the world pushing boundaries, dancing edges and daring to destroy the obstacles in front of them. Kristen Smoyer is one of the latter. Affectionately referred to as Kristen The Destroyer in the flyboarding world, Smoyer is a unique athlete driven with purpose and determination. Flyboarding is an extreme water sport in which athletes compete using equipment called flyboards. A flyboard can be best described as a personal watercraft fitted with a water jetpack and a hoverboard.

Athletes shoot up to 60 or more feet in the air, performing acrobatic loops, turns and flips that simultaneously excite and terrify the crowd below.„

Kristen’s life began on the complete opposite edge of the country, in Alaska, where her dad served in the Coast Guard. His ship was tasked with breaking ice and performing rescue missions when boats became frozen into the sea. Kristen sometimes came along to witness the beauty and the danger. It didn’t escape her young mind that if you need to make a way, sometimes you simply break through the obstacles in front of you to help a person out.

An athlete that enjoyed a variety of sports, Kristen went on to play collegiate basketball, soccer and softball. She graduated from UMASS in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology/ Psychology/Criminal Justice, a minor in Juvenile Delinquency and a Master’s Degree in Applied Sociology. After college, Kristen moved to upstate New York, finding work with the Lake George Marine Patrol. She rented a cottage on a horse farm and quickly realized that she loved horses. When she began to ride at the rodeo part time, Kristen knew it was time to head south where the warmer temperatures would allow for year-round rodeo participation. In Florida, Kristen took a full time job as a Child Protective Investigator with the Department of Children and Families where she has continued in multiple roles for the last 17 years.

In 2013, Kristen’s four-year-old son, Jaxon, was diagnosed with a medical condition that required intensive intervention and care. The medical bills climbed into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, an amount that seemed insurmountable. But when times get tough, the tough get going. Kristen took every opportunity to make extra money with handywork, a paper route, and any other labor she could find. It was a Craigslist ad that shifted her life along a new trajectory. Hired to build a dock, Kristen was introduced to the idea of flyboarding. The owner taught her to operate his flyboard apparatus so that she could run it for rentals. The gentleman further encouraged her to learn to flyboard, suggesting she could offer lessons. Despite being afraid of heights, and motivated by the needs of her family, that’s exactly what Kristen did.

Kristen Smoyer dove in, literally and figuratively. She became immersed in the world of flyboarding. She joined a team with Ben Merrell and Gemma Weston, and the trio began traveling the world to participate in competitions and perform shows. They call themselves “hydrosoul-mates.” Every competition and every show meant something; it meant Kristen could afford the care for her son. As they battled it out in the sky with jetpacks and hoverboards, Jaxon fought his own battle and won.

The teammates began to focus more on shows, but continued to travel to exciting locations including the Daytona International Speedway, Royal Caribbean, Dubai, and the 2019 Superbowl in Miami. In 2021, Kristen received the hard news that her son was once again facing medical complications. This time, though, she turned immediately to the friends that had become family. Jaxon’s health was a priority, and he needed his mom close by.

The team decided to stay closer to home keeping the travel and performances to a manageable level. As the financial pressures mounted again, Ben proposed an idea. The two friends opened Lake June Pontoons, a boat rental in Lake Placid, creating a steady stream of supplemental income and keeping Kristen close to home with her son.

You can never do anything if you can’t figure out how to be uncomfortable,” Kristen says. “You have to push yourself to be uncomfortable every day. It’s the only way to go a little further, get a little better.”

Kristen Smoyer has never met a challenge she wasn’t willing to face. Life didn’t afford her a choice, really. When you have a son, you have a piece of yourself that means more to you than your own discomfort, than your fatigue, than your preconceived limits.

Gemma Watson, a New Zealand native, is Kristen’s fiercest competition. She is also one of the fiercest friends a girl could want. The teammates push each other in hard times and support each other in the best of times, on and off the flyboard. “We have this untouchable bond.

Whether something good or bad is happening, we are always pushing each other to smile a little bit more, fight for something better,” Kristen says of her friend. In their last World Cup competition together, Gemma sustained a catastrophic injury with severe nerve and leg injury.

Kristen ran onto the beach and swam out to her before any safety crew could get to her. Kristen missed the podium that day, even though she had placed first. “I was at her bedside in the hospital,” she recalls. “And she would do the same for me every day of every year for the rest of our lives.”„

When Kristen first heard of Ben Merrell, he was this guy on a Youtube video flying on a new board with the most epic tricks. He made you stare at the screen and think, just for a minute, that super heroes actually exist. Ben and Kristen quickly became a team and best friends. It wasn’t his athletic talent, his straight bangs, or his Oakley sunglasses that made Ben one of the most iconic and influential people she had ever met. Ben taught Kristen new tricks, encouraged her to try harder. And every time she fell, he was there to pick her up, even on dry and. Just the mention of his name brings a smile to Kristen’s face. “Ben is a loving father, a devoted husband. He never gives up on himself, or others,” she says.

Flyboarding took Kristen Smoyer all over the world. But more importantly, it brought her world closer together. Jaxon was recently given the all-clear again. A threefold cord is not easily broken, and the hydrosoul-mates have proven that together they can take on anything.