With the first-ever North American scooter vert contest in the books, the riders had one last event on their minds. This contest would either land them in the World Championship in Barcelona, or send them packing to begin training for the next year. It wasn’t going to be an easy task by any means. With a total of 49 riders qualified for Nationals, and only eight moving on to Worlds, it was set to be an extremely challenging competition. You can watch the full contest right here, and then read on for the in-depth analysis:
The riders all piled into The Hangar at Woodward West. Some jumped right on their scooters for warm-ups, while others chilled out looking cool, calm, and collected as they eyed up their competition. Someone like Chris Farris usually just hangs out on the sideline, making sure not to waste all of his energy in practice. A smart move for a veteran like Chris. Not to mention his performance in the vert contest the night before definitely took a lot out of him.
This year’s North American Final felt different than in years past. We saw quite a few familiar faces, but we also saw a lot of brand-new talent bringing something new to the table. There seemed to be a new energy in the building. With riders getting older and having a more mature eye for scootering, there came a new wave of style. These riders all brought in their own elements of riding.
The setup at The Hangar is a tricky one. All the ramps are pretty spread out, so keeping speed throughout the course isn’t easy. But the ones who could pull it off found themselves on top. The judges are really paying attention to how many times a rider starts and stops in their runs. In other words, if a rider pauses on top of a ramp mid-run in order to set themselves up for the next line, they will likely get points deducted. In events like this, the riders that get the highest scores don’t ever stop in their runs.
I’ll go over a few of the riders that really stood out to me this weekend. The first being 12-year-old Nicholas Nelson. This young buck straight out of Toronto has all the elements you want to see in a rider in a scooter contest. He brings speed and style but also throws down massive tricks. He added a high-risk element in his runs by combining big transfers with difficult tricks. Not only did the judges like it, but the crowd showed a lot of love for this new-gen rider. Always with a smile on his face, Nicholas Nelson is going to be a massive force in the scene in the coming years, I’m sure. His performance landed him fifth place, and he is going to Barcelona!
Nolan Shoemaker has never slowed down. He has been chasing the dream of World Champion for years now. He put on the figurative gloves and came out swinging this year. Nolan more recently upgraded to a bigger scooter, and his style somehow got even better than before. Shoemaker does technical tricks like 360 fullwhip to fingerwhips, but also almost hits the ceiling with his floaty backflip barspin combos. When Nolan steps out on the course, everyone stops what they’re doing to watch the level of elegance and gnarliness this man brings. No surprise, Nolan found himself in fourth place, but he had already received a Golden Ticket to Barcelona for winning a previous contest. He was out for the prize purse and street cred!
Tyler Chaffin took the third spot with his signature style and experience. Much like in the Nitro World Games, he showcased his acrobatic ability with full control. He will definitely be one to watch in Barcelona, as he is in any contest he enters.
One of the newer faces we saw at nationals this year was Nate Pena. Nate was definitely one of the crowd’s favorites for the day. Putting down a flawless run landed him the second spot on the podium. Consistency was key in his eyes, so his trick selection was somewhat low risk, other than his massive 360 backflip mid run over a pretty unconventional transfer. This was HUGE for him. It was great to see a new face on the podium and I look forward to seeing what Nate can bring to the table in the next few years. Needless to say, the dude is going to Barcelona!
And the winner is: Chris Farris! Who would have guessed? I can’t say it enough, Farris has been absolutely dominating the contest circuit this year. Taking wins all over North America and already having a Golden Ticket, Chris was out for one thing: the win. I’ve talked quite a bit about risk in this article and how judges are looking for those high-risk maneuvers coupled with speed and style. Chris has all that and more. Utilizing the entire course while laying down some of the most difficult tricks back to back to back, and making it all look effortless. Although he had a slip-up in the final seconds of his run, the judges thought the rest of the run truly made up for it, and he was able to secure the win yet again.
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!