Saturday, December 23, 2023

Seeing it first-hand, scootering is becoming a big-time sport

Jackson at the Troy skatepark
It’s been a bit of a journey in my mind to fully appreciate my son Jackson’s commitment to the sport of scootering. I played non-stop as a kid at team sports, especially soccer and baseball, and while Jackson did make the JV baseball team last year, he decided not to play because his heart was not into six practices for many, many hours per week. He needed time for his true love of scootering.

On our winter trip, everywhere we’re staying is based on proximity to skate parks. At least that’s the case when we’ll be traveling nearly the length of California. Visiting my parents first in Edwardsville, in southern Illinois, there is a great park in nearby Troy. But today we’re at Ramp Riders, in Soulard, just south of the St. Louis Arch. It’s a cool cavernous old warehouse (a lot like Charm City in Baltimore) that helps display how far this individual sport has moved to legitimacy. There’s even a strong push to get it into the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Jackson at Ramp Riders
Skateboarding, which Jackson also enjoys, was essentially the only choice for skate kids until about the turn of the century. But then the Razor came along from Micro Mobility Solutions, creating a generation of interested kids. Now it’s progressed to big business, with trick scooters being made by many companies and diverse investments and sponsorships for many scooter riders. Jackson has been to the famed Woodward skate and scooter camp in Pennsylvania Amish country for the past three summers, and storied pros regularly visit to teach and mentor the campers.

Those early razor scooters were prone to breaking and really were only best used for transportation. But the trick and kick scooters of today can take a royal beating, even if Jackson is constantly replacing pricey parts. Fenders, wider wheels, bigger bearings, and better grips are among the many recent advances.

Back in 2005, the first scooter competition was held, in Switzerland. Since 2012, scootering world championships have been happening each year (other than the 2020 Covid year) and there are three categories: men’s park, men’s street, and women’s park. Lucas DiMeglio of France was named the rider of the year in 2022 and 2023.

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