The surfer was getting dangerously close to the crest. It was a huge wave, spanning 34 feet, but the last thing he wanted was to bail in front of his friends. Leaning into the water and weaving side to side, he kept his balance for just a few moments longer before tumbling onto the soft mats and safe bail area of the Flowrider. He'd be ready for the real thing come summer. This is just one of the adventures that await thrill-seekers-in-training at the Salomon Center. Away from the Flowrider's manmade surf, top-rope belay systems cradle climbers as they scale iRock's craggy, gray peaks. Incorporating holds that change monthly, these indoor climbing walls shoot upwards to heights of 55 feet. Alternatively, bouldering areas stay closer to the ground and exchange ropes for padded surfaces. Meanwhile, iFLY exchanges footholds for a column of high-speed, shooting air, which elevates would-be fliers to simulate the feeling of skydiving or being kicked out of a moving UFO.
Sportations connects amateur adrenaline jockeys to certified professional adventurers, drawing from a nationwide network of aeronauts and speed demons to introduce habitual pedestrians to the wonders of skydiving, ballooning, hang gliding, and stock-car racing. Thrill seekers can zipline across a forest canopy, hollering like Tarzan or taunting nearby birds until they agree to race. Helicopter tours ferry patrons skyward over landmarks and cityscapes, whereas paragliding adventures get up close and personal with blue skies and clouds. For most sports, Sportations accommodates groups of any size, from physics classes empirically proving gravity's existence to solo ballooning supervillains declaring dominion over all they see.
Side-by-side rectangular trampolines, a colorful climbing wall, and a faux-rock formation all serve as launch pads at Lowes Xtreme Air Sports. A short bounce or drop away lie pits filled with cushy blocks of blue foam, ready to break the fall of anyone brave enough to take the plunge. The colorful arena arose as an offshoot of owner Beverly Lowe's previous business Power Tumbling, where demand for free play on the trampolines outgrew the location's size. They also have a trapeze and a cheer floor, and coming in January 2014, an area for ninja parkour.