CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. — The Midwest is known for a lot of things, but a surfer's paradise? Apparently so, for those in Crystal Lake.
What was once an old quarry is now a wakeboarder's dream, complete with a sandy beach and an overhead cable system that enables those out on the water to do phenomenal feats not possible when towed behind a boat.
It's like the Cirque de Soleil of wakeboarding. Forget the old tow behind the boat. At the Quarry Cable Park, the tow comes from above, propelling these wakeboarders' feet into the air with jaw dropping twists and tricks.
"The second I got here I just fell in love with it.... It feels like I'm flying; it's awesome," said wakeboarder James Schmidt.
And it's developing a cult following in Crystal Lake, with some teens saying once they tried cable wakeboarding, it changed everything.
"I like the thrill of it, like going off a jump. I just tried the rainbow today and landed it," said wakeboarder Carly Wolschlager.
The cable suspended system is huge in Europe, but here in the U.S., there are only a handful of cable wakeboard parks. The Quarry Cable Park in Crystal Lake opened less than two years ago as one of the first of it's kind in this part of the Midwest.
They brought in pros like Timmy Burnier to show kids the ropes. And sure enough, those kids went from the 2.0 learners cable to jumping off ramps and coasting stairs within months.
"It's awesome how fast the talent is growing out here. It's great to put a passion of mine for so long and pass it along to another," Burnier said.
"The jumps — everything else is just crazy. Once you hit them, it's like wow, I want to keep doing that," Schmidt said.
Many of the teens joined the Quarry Cable Park wakeboarding team to compete against others addicted to the thrill of soaring above water.
"I've coached people from 3 to 80. Nothing like seeing a smile on a kid's face when they get up for the first time or land a new trick is indescribable, almost like I'm doing it myself," Burnier said when discussing his teaching experiences.
If you're feeling adventurous and want to give it a try, the Quarry Cable Park rents out all the equipment you need and you can get on the water for as little as $35 for a couple hours. For more information, visit their website or EnjoyIllinois.com.