I finally made it back home to sunny San Diego after five days in the gloomy, rainy cold of Paris. Although the weather wasn’t my favorite, I can tell you I had an absolute blast. Paris is a truly amazing city, with some of the craziest architecture I’ve ever seen. The food is delectable, desserts especially, the people are good-looking, and they have Lime Scooters! Which happened to be the quickest way to the Eiffel Tower.
Why were we in Paris? For none other than the final installment of the Nitro World Games. The event was Scooter Best Trick. Twenty of the best riders headed into our semifinal competition with the hopes to stomp out two of their hardest tricks and earn a spot in finals later that day. Only 11 riders were to join defending champion Ryan Williams in the final. If you haven’t watched the full broadcast yet, you can watch the semifinal by clicking right here and the final embedded right under this. SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down for more in-depth analysis and highlights from the podium finishers!
The action started heating up in practice when a couple of the riders took some heavy slams. Chris Farris from Atascadero, California, took one of the biggest hits to his face while attempting a double backflip 360. Unfortunately, he spun 180 degrees and landed backwards right on top of the knuckle of the landing, took his bars to his face, and a tooth through his lip. Despite this crazy bail, it was not enough to keep him from competing, and he even moved on to the final!
A lot of these riders rarely get an opportunity to ride this ramp, but it is incredible to see how quickly they became acclimated. The last time Roomet Saalik was able to ride the Giganta Ramp was at last year’s Nitro World Games. Amazingly, Roomet was able to stomp a 1080 frontflip and a 720 frontflip no-hander, which was good enough to qualify him in first place. But would he be able to take out R-Willy?
The final consisted of 12 riders, each getting four jumps scored out of 10 points each, with their best two tricks being totalled up for a score out of 20. The fact that they got four runs meant we were going to see some serious hammers. I spoke with R-Willy before the finals, and he said the strategy is to throw down your two hardest tricks in the first two runs, and then put it all on the line and go for some never-been-done-before tricks in the last two runs.
It seemed like that was the prevailing approach, and the first runs really impressed me. Some of the most insane tricks I’ve ever seen were being thrown down right off the bat. Our top qualifier, Roomet, was able to stomp out the 720 frontflip no-hander with no problem at all. ScootFest King of Kings Richard Zelinka put down a cashroll quadruple barspin in Heat 1, with style. The look on his face was unforgettable. Richard was so amped to stomp that trick on the first attempt. But the highest score of the first jump belonged to last year’s champion, Ryan Williams. R-Willy making the 1080 frontflip look way too easy, asserting immediately that it was going to be his competition to lose.
Jump 2 is when the competition really started getting heavy. Will Barlow had a solid score after his first jump, with a double backflip no-hander, so he was ready to send it even harder in this jump. Barzy sent a triple backflip tailwhip and JUST slipped out. Then Roomet took back the top spot with a 1080 frontflip! It’s crazy enough to see R-Willy do that trick, but the fact that more than one of these athletes can do it just blows my mind. But right behind Roomet, R-Willy dropped in and put down a trick that nobody else in the world can do: a tailwhip Silly Willy! The Silly Willy is a double frontflip 360, which doesn’t seem possible to begin with, and Ryan put a tailwhip in the middle of it. That was good enough to push him back into the lead!
Although this put Ryan into first place, the highlight of the second jump for me had to be Richard Zelinka’s 720 frontflip tailwhip to barspin. What a mouthful! Cody and myself both thought he was just throwing down a cashroll combo, but he pulled around another 360 just in the nick of time! This is a trick that Richard worked super hard for, and I know that because it was the ender in his latest video. I didn’t see him even attempt that trick in practice, but he somehow stomped it first try. My jaw was on the ground after that. This was the highest scoring trick of the entire night, and well deserved.
Just at the start of heat 3, we saw one of the nastiest crashes I’ve ever witnessed. Great Britain’s Jordan Clark looked like he was going to attempt a triple frontflip, but unfortunately didn’t get the pop he needed, made it around only twice but just over-rotated and slid across the ground in a scorpion. Seriously, one of the gnarliest crashes I’d ever seen. Nitro Circus has such a good medical staff, they attended to him right away. After a trip to the hospital and an array of tests, Jordan came out with on a few cuts and scrapes. If it wasn’t for the innovation and progression of the Giganta Ramp, this crash could have been much worse. See it here.
Capron Funk went for a massive backflip triple inward in Jump 3, a trick he had to land if he wanted a shot to win, and unfortunately he wasn’t able to execute it. Next up was Chris Farris, who could definitely give the leader a run for his money. Chris got sweet redemption in his second jump, nailing the cashroll quad tailwhip to barspin. This trick was a one-up from his qualifying run! It popped him up into fifth place, and he was surely stoked. Another rider with a must-make jump was Dylan Morrison, who had yet to get a score on the board. Dylan was able to throw down a double backflip tailwhip rewind rewind to triple tailwhip. It’s hard enough to say it, how did he actually do it?! Saalik and Zelinka, our top contenders to take down R-Willy, unfortunately could not put down tricks in their third jumps, but they tried some insane World Firsts. R-Willy went for the 1440 frontflip, attempting to increase his lead, but was unable to land it.
Corey Funk kicked off the fourth and final round with a gigantic double backflip quad tailwhip, which I dubbed the 2 x 4. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the podium because of his lower first score, but this trick was definitely worth some bragging rights. The older of the Funk brothers, Capron, didn’t have a score on the board yet, but he was able to land the double backflip triple inward for the crowd, which ended up being one of the highest-scoring tricks of the night.
At the end of the day, neither Richard Zelinka nor Roomet Saalik was able to land their tricks and bump Ryan Williams off of that top spot. So for a second year in a row, the title of Nitro World Games Scooter Best Trick Champion goes to R-Willy! Ryan, although not having the single highest-scoring tricks, proved that consistency is key by throwing down two extremely difficult tricks and getting the highest total combined score. Well-deserved for R-Willy! Roomet was right behind him in second place and Zelinka took third. Well done boys!
Overall, this event consisted of some of the most insane scooter riding I’ve seen to date. The camaraderie within the scooter community was beautifully on display. These riders really pushed the limits when it comes to progression, and none of that would have been possible without the love and support from Travis Pastrana and Nitro Circus. Scooters have come such a long way, and we aren’t stopping any time soon. A massive thank you to everyone at Nitro Circus, this means so much more to us than you could ever know.
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!