March 23rd was the date. Pro riders from all over North America gathered in the spring break destination that is Lake Havasu, Arizona. The event was one of five North American International Scooter Association qualifiers, where riders are able to punch their ticket for the Nationals next month at Woodward West. From there, the top riders in North America will battle for their spot in the World Championship contest in Barcelona in June. The week leading up to the event, a lot of competitors worked hard to promote it by doing demos on homemade ramps next to the infamous London Bridge at the London Bridge Resort.
The skatepark in Lake Havasu truly made the competition a sight to see. The flow of this “concrete jungle” is insane, containing all the workings of a dream park: a big box jump, hips everywhere, rollers to increase speed, and a massive clamshell allowing riders to get completely inverted. The stage was set as everyone poured into Tinnell Memorial Park on Saturday morning. Although it was a bit chilly at the start, the temperature began to increase as the competition heated up.
The contest format was the usual two one-minute runs. However, they did it a little differently this time. Instead of running every rider’s first run and then every rider’s second run, they ran heats of five riders at a time. This tweak made it so each rider was still warm for their second run. It was a high-energy format that I could see working very well for future contests. Riders are able to perform their best when there isn’t an hour between their first and second runs. Most of the guys put down a safety run for their first hit on the park to allow them a decent score and to save their explosive energy for the second run.
Check out this gallery and read on for a breakdown of the top three finishers with video of their runs (click the photos to enlarge):
Our first rider highlight goes to Nolan Shoemaker. Nolan has recently dropped his factory sponsor and has been riding a much bigger scooter, which has improved his style tenfold. Now add the style to Nolan’s long list of ridiculous tricks and combos and you have yourself some eye candy on the course. Shoemaker started his run with a barspin to barspin over a hip transfer just as a setup air to get some speed for his next trick. He laid down a back scooter flip fingerwhip with elegance and followed it up with a tailwhip front scooterflip. Nolan was only a quarter of the way through his run and already had stomped out of insane tricks. The rest of his run was flowy and filled with a massive variety of tricks. He really knows how to blast his flips and float them so perfectly. His second run was good enough for the third-place spot on the podium, and since the other two already had a Golden Ticket straight to the World Finals, Nolan was given the Golden Ticket of the day! Check out his run here:
The next rider, I am pleased to mention, played a huge role in the Nitro World Games. I am of course talking about the high-spirited Chris Farris. Chris’ acrobatic abilities built together with back-to-back bangers made for a high-energy run that really got the crowd worked up. Chris claims he “knows where the mistakes were,” but to me it looked absolutely flawless. After a warm-up 360 quad whip, he pumped around the miniature vert wall and blasted the box jump with a full twist heel kickless rewind, a trick you don’t normally see in a competition setting. The rest of Chris’ run was explosive hitting tricks on every wall, including a flawless 540 flair and a 360 backflip off of a roller. It is insane that scootering has become so gnarly that Chris’ run was good enough for only second place, but it was still a very respectable finish. Chris already has a Golden Ticket to Barcelona, so he was just chasing that first-place prize money and of course the clout! Here is a POV view from the run:
Last on the highlight reel, we have your victor from the weekend. The beast from the east comes back on the scene, fresh off of a broken ankle. I’m of course talking about JonMarco Gaydos. JonMarco has been an absolute weapon since he was just a young boy. Now moving into his teenage years, the rest of the field fears him. His hometown, Brick, New Jersey (also my hometown), has bred scooter legends for the last 20 years. Jesse Macaluso, Stevon Wilson, Josh Kish, and many more have come from the same town. Must be something in the water or, as they say, wutter …
JonMarco might as well have his name all over the skatepark, because he surely owned it. Gaydos went higher, rode faster, and did more difficult tricks than the rest of the field. Blasting impossible tricks over the box jump and quarterpipes is something he makes look easy. Another strategy of his is to not stop and start. You can see in his run that he doesn’t push once after dropping in. This is something that the judges really like to see, and something not many of the field can pull off. Words cannot say enough about this run, so just watch for yourselves:
Overall, the contest was fierce. The pros that turned up made sure to put on a show for the Havasu crowd. It was different for me being on the sideline instead of on the mic, but I enjoyed yelling for my boys, while Max Peters from Australia hyped up the crowd. It was a long drive home that ended with bugs covering my windshield, but it was worth it to spend some time at the Lake with my homies.
About the writer:
My name is Jake Hershey, known in social media land as Nekbeard. I was born in ’91 and started scootering in ’02! I was born and raised in New Jersey, but made my way to the West Coast in 2014. I now live in sunny San Diego where you can catch me at Linda Vista skatepark almost daily. Scootering is a passion for me, so I hope that you like what I have to write!