How Scooters Are Becoming Millennials’ Extreme Sport of Choice

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  • How Scooters Are Becoming Millennials’ Extreme Sport of Choice

    Precio : Gratis

    Publicado por : dnfsdd815

    Publicado en : 28-10-21

    Ubicación : Albacete

    Visitas : 10

    How Scooters Are Becoming Millennials’ Extreme Sport of Choice

    How Scooters Are Becoming Millennials’ Extreme Sport of Choice
        Pedestrians on the sidewalks of downtown Chicago hold up cellphone cameras, drivers

    honk in frustration and the police don’t quite know what to do. It’s not every day that

    300 young scooter riders flood the streets, ignoring red lights and turning a loading dock

    into a temporary stadium – to the dismay of at least one exasperated business owner.
        It’s called a street jam, where riders flock from all over the world to shred a city,

    performing tricks and causing the same type of mayhem more usually associated with

    skateboarders. For those who grew up during the Razor-scooter boom in the early aughts, it

    ’s hard to see a GAS scooter as much

    more than a fad, let alone a symbol of rebellion, but that stereotype doesn’t exist for

    the younger generation. Eighteen years after the release of the first Razor, scooters have

    come of age, spawning a uniquely millennial subculture with the same disruptive spirit as

    skateboarding – minus the steep learning curve. And according to many scooter riders, it’

    s actually overtaking skateboarding in popularity.
        “I’ve seen less and less skateboarders over the years,” says Devin Szydlowski, a 17

    -year-old semi-pro rider who traveled from San Luis Obispo, California, to take part in the

    Chicago Jam in August, one of the largest in the U.S. “It depends on the [skate] park, but

    we have the majority. There’s more scooter riders than skateboarders. We’re targeting

    younger kids, whereas skateboarding is targeting older kids.” A study on by

    the Outdoor Foundation backs up his observation: The number of skateboarders in the U.S.

    decreased from 10.1 million to 6.4 million between 2006 and 2016, with an even more

    dramatic drop among skaters age six to 17.
        “It’s huge in other countries,” says Logan Fuller, a 25-year-old whose baggy, torn

    jeans and mischievous eyes look straight out of a Nineties issue of Thrasher magazine. He’

    s one of the best known scooter riders at the jam and is capable of grinding down a 22-

    stair handrail. Fuller is based in Maryland but basically lives on the road, traveling from

    jam to jam, supported by sponsorships and contest winnings. “I just went to Russia and

    France for street jams, they’re crazy. There’s, like, a thousand people,” he says.
        Starting at Grant Park Skate Park, the riders at the Chicago Jam – most of whom look

    under 18 – critical-mass through downtown, stopping along the way to grind down rails and

    spin scooters around their heads like helicopters. As with skateboarding, the chance of

    landing a trick is relatively low and the probability of racking yourself on a rail

    dangerously high.
        The event is totally rogue, with no permits and no Internet trail outside social media.

    Historically, it was organized by a prominent scooter manufacturer, but this year it grew

    too large for a business to carry the legal liability should (or when) the cops arrive. It

    ’s so loosely planned that there’s not even a route map; organizers simply direct the mob

    using a megaphone.
        The best tricks win prize money, crucial since many of the top street

    EEC 50 Scooter riders

    backpack across the country for months at a time. But what’s more important than money is

    the opportunity to put faces to Instagram names. After the jam, kids gather in a warehouse

    to watch the premiere of a scooter film, buy scooter art prints and mosh to a performance

    by Atlanta rapper KZ, whose Instagram features as many photos of him on a scooter as in the

    studio. There’s a rebellious spirit to the gathering, and half the young riders seem like

    the type to sneak cigarettes between classes – but good luck asking any of them for a

    lighter. After all, this is the vaping generation.
        Skateboarding’s roots lie in 1960s surf culture, but push scooters originated as much

    more of a kids’ toy. The image started to change when Razor launched its insanely popular

    “Pro” model in 2000. The founder owned a toy company and saw that scooters had become

    trendy as transportation for Japanese businessmen in Tokyo, thus the brand’s initial

    retail partner: The Sharper Image (sticker price: $149). They sold at a pace of one million

    units per month for the first six months.
        Razor soon realized that scooters could become a new action sport and began to invest

    in building a community. In 2001, they offered a $1,000 prize for the first person to land

    a backflip and created the first touring team of riders.
        “We started putting on competitions locally and then a national tour,” says Ali

    Kermani, a skateboarder who helped Razor cultivate its extreme-sports program. “We’d go

    all over the place to skate parks that had strong scooter scenes, like the Incline Club in

    New Jersey and Skate Barn West in Washington [State]. Then the first street jams started

    happening in New York.”
      Even though the sport isn’t recognized by the X-Games and no Tony Hawk figure has

    propelled it to the mainstream, athletes are innovating at an unprecedented pace. The most

    groundbreaking trick in skateboarding history is likely Hawk’s 900 at the 1999 X-Games,

    the result of nearly 50 years of skating progression. Scooter rider KC Corning landed one

    in 2004, showing how quickly the sport is evolving.
        “Scootering is the first sport that developed through the Internet, so we were able to

    build a whole industry in just a few years,” says Andrew Broussard, considered by many to

    be the godfather of scootering. He landed his first tailwhip on July 4th, 2001, and became

    hooked. While still in high school, he launched Scooter Resource, a message board that for

    the next decade would be the website of record for the community. Broussard also began

    hacking together custom scooters capable of taking more abuse, a business originally

    branded Scooter Resource in 2006, before being renamed Proto

    EEC 125 Scooter in 2008.

    The company doubled its revenue for six years straight, its growth only slowing once a rush

    of other companies entered the market.
        A rift exists between “park” and “street” brands, with street riders preferring

    upstart, rider-owned companies like Proto and TSI to corporate operations like Fuzion

    (available at Walmart). Scooters are modular, which has created a marketplace for

    component-specific companies like River Wheel Co. and Tilt, which produces nearly

    indestructible wheels, decks, forks and even the clamps that connect the parts. Scooter

    riders (or often their parents) drop up to $700 on pro-level rides, a sharp contrast to the

    costs of earlier models.
        The lexicon of tricks grew and was cataloged on Scooter Resource with specific credits

    for the pioneers behind each move. Because a scooter has handlebars like a BMX bike and a

    deck like a skateboard, it’s a hybrid capable of incorporating tricks from each with a

    much quicker learning curve, which is undoubtedly part of why it appeals to a younger

        “When you first start out skating, you can’t just ollie right away, you have to

    practice for six months,” says Szydlowski. “On a scooter, a bunny hop takes, like, a day

    to learn. Or an hour.”
        Today’s riders mainly find inspiration on YouTube. It’s resulted in underground

    scooter celebrities like the Funk Bros – Corey and Capron Funk – who are far from

    household names but boast 3.5 million subscribers. Scooters still play a part in their

    videos, but they’re now known mainly as Jackass-style pranksters (who can land triple

    front flips). Ryan Williams, a well-known rider of both scooters and BMX bikes, has 950,000

    Instagram followers. But despite these riders’ huge followings, their popularity leaves

    little trace outside social media.
        The rest of the community is the same; nearly everything happens on Instagram or

    Facebook. According to Tommy Daddono, one of the organizers of the Chicago Jam and a

    founder of scooter manufacturer Outset Select, his event is one of the most popular street

    jams in the world, but it was un-Googleable until a week after the dust had cleared.
        Since pro-level scooters are so costly, many of the kids come from affluent

    backgrounds. Despite this, the scene feels decidedly DIY. Riders dress with a mix of grungy

    skater gear and a touch of Internet irony. One middle-school rider in Chicago wore a black

    cap with small text reading “Link in Bio.” Just like skateboarders, shredded jeans and

    dirty Vans are the style, but unfortunately for the burgeoning scene, it takes more than

    just streetwear to convince skateboarders who came of age during Razor’s initial boom that

    scooters are cool. Landing a backflip at a skatepark definitely turns heads, but a

    combination of entitlement and inexperience has made most scooter riders a bane to

    skateboarders, inline skaters and BMX riders.
        “There’s a stigma because of all the little kids,” says Daddono. “Every

    skateboarder will tell you that [scooterers] don’t look where they’re going, they’ll

    ride in front of you. They don’t have the etiquette yet.” Many simply never learn, which

    Broussard credits to a lack of guidance from older kids. “Skaters will complain about it,

    but they’ll never go up to 125cc 150cc Scooter riders and explain why what they’re doing is dangerous

    or bad park etiquette,” says Broussard. “But if it’s a young skateboarder, they’ll give

    them pointers and help them out. It’s a hypocritical attitude.”
        Pioneering riders like Daddono, 24, and Broussard, 31, turned to scooting because they

    felt skateboarding’s street credibility died with its commercial boom. Buying a board at

    the mall wasn’t rebellious. Instead, early scooter riders dug through garage sales for

    dollar scooters, took them to skate parks and rode them until they were literally destroyed

    – typically about an hour.
        “Skateboarding used to be anti-establishment, but now if you wear skate clothing, you

    ’re trendy,” says Broussard. “Scooters started [out] punk-rock. The older generation

    couldn’t afford skateboards or BMX bikes, but we could dumpster-dive for scooters.”
        “Every skatepark I’ve been in, there’s always a skateboarder with a chip on their

    shoulder and are super mad,” says Szydlowski. “Skateboarders are trying to make

    themselves feel better, because they know that their sport is dying in a sense.”
        Although events like the Chicago Jam appeal to a younger audience, it’s the relatively

    older kids who play the starring roles. Mike Hohmann, a 22-year-old with frayed Kurt Vile

    hair, is a good bet to win prize money at any jam. He’s based in Florida but has spent the

    past six months couchsurfing between events across the country. In May, he won several

    hundred dollars for grinding a 30-foot rail called the Green Monster in Austin and had a

    similar payday in Chicago for landing a backside 360 bar twist down a dozen steps at Grant

    Park. Once Hohmann’s cash runs dry, he’ll return to Florida to work a pair of minimum-

    wage jobs to save for his next trip.
        “It’s the community I love. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, everyone’s

    a brother here,” says Hohmann.
        Scant documentation of the community has emerged outside social media, but the scene

    does have historians. One is Dylan Kasson, a professional rider for Proto who has

    photographed scooting for a decade and hosts a popular podcast, Tandem. He’s produced

    several photo books and is compiling a larger survey of the sport that he hopes to publish

    under the title The Scene.
        “Scootering is so new that it’s still in that stage where there’s a lot of untapped

    potential,” says Kasson. “Videos are the most important thing. That’s how people realize

    new tricks are possible.” 
        As documentation of the sport grows, so does the industry around it. As with

    skateboarding, apparel companies like Sky High have formed to serve the subculture. The

    11th annual Scooter Con in San Diego boasted 1,500 attendees, and in October, Vault

    Scooters hosted the first-ever invitational competition, called Sovereign of Street, which

    had a prize pool of $11,000. Scooters are also a big part of Nitro Circus, an

    internationally touring stadium event with an emphasis on daredevil mega-ramps (it’s where

    Capron Funk landed that triple front flip).
        Even though it’s still a fresh industry, it might already be getting too mainstream

    for Broussard, who fears the popularity could ruin the rebellious character, just like with

    skateboarding.”The founding generation of scooter riders is drastically different than the

    current generation,” he says. “We rode because after the Razor boom, it was not trendy.

    We were experimental. Now, some kids spend more time accessorizing their

    electric scooter

    than riding them.”
        Rebelliousness was certainly on display in Chicago, however. It’s hard to call a mob

    of 300 kids riding into oncoming one-way traffic anything but daring. They were not only

    endangering their own bodies by running red lights and hurling themselves down stairs, but

    also destroying public and private property. The Most Disorderly Conduct Award went to a

    teenager who climbed to the top of a 20-foot wall overlooking a loading dock, then launched

    himself off it with a sinister grin, landing on the roof of a parked van and nearly causing

    the roof to cave in.

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