A pond in Marysville has been transformed into a boat-free wakeboarding park
PHOTOS BY JODI MILLER
Most drivers speeding past the small farm pond just north of U.S. Rte. 33 notice only a flash of color and continue onward. Some see too much and, confused but curious, are compelled to stop.
Those on the water are wakeboarding, that much is certain. Lean, shaggy-haired dudes in neon board shorts are tooling over the water and launching upside-down from giant ramps. Thing is, there’s no boat.
Wakeopolis looks like magic. And, in a way, it is.
“I think a lot wonder what the heck is going on,” said Tyler Dunham, who opened the Marysville cable wakeboarding park during the first weekend in May. “The overpass gets the lookie-loos, which is awesome.”
Instead of being towed by a boat, boarders at Wakeopolis are pulled across the water by a rope attached to overhead cables strung between two towers. Rather than use a boat’s wake, they attempt flat-water tricks and hit rails, jumps and other stationary features that would seem equally at home in a skateboard park.
“I’ve been wakeboarding since I was a little kid, but I didn’t take it seriously until a couple years ago,” said Danny Collins, a senior at Hilliard Davidson High School who rides regularly on the Scioto River with his family. “Riding cable is something different. It adds a new aspect to it.”
After flourishing overseas for years, cable wakeboarding has made significant waves in America and came to Ohio in 2010 when a park named Wake Nation opened in suburban Cincinnati. The sport capitalizes on growing global interest in extreme sports, but it also opens up wakeboarding to a more casual audience.
Traditional wakeboarding requires a boat and all the hassles that come with owning one.
On the other hand, “The best part of cables is you can come whenever you want,” said Nathan Stetter, 21, who will work this summer at Wakeopolis. “You can ride here all day.”
Other cable operations are set up like amusement parks—buy a ticket, stand in line and wait your turn to rip. Wakeopolis, on the other hand, is a private club. Riders buy an annual membership, then pay to reserve the park for blocks of time. Starting June 15, membership costs $80, and reservations run $85 per hour on weekdays or $130 per hour on weekends and holidays.
“I wanted to make a blend of the boat session with family and friends, where you can ride as much as you want, with the beauty of the cable,” Dunham explained minutes before jumping into the water from the dock in an impressive aerial start. “And I wanted times to come out with just my family and not have people stopping in.” :