Five North County skaters on first-ever USA Skateboarding team
REGION — North County residents Nicole Hause, Brighton Zeuner, Bryce Wettstein, Jordyn Barratt and Tom Schaar have all made the first-ever USA Skateboarding Team and are fighting for a spot to represent their country at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
USA Skateboarding announced its introductory national team of eight men and eight women at the CA Training Facility in Vista during late March 2019.
“Growing up I never thought … that I would be a pro skater,” Barratt said. “To have it be on an Olympic scale, it’s pretty nuts.”
Barratt hails from Haleiwa, Hawaii, but lives in Encinitas. She is one of four women skateboarders who reside in North County that are part of the inaugural USA Skateboarding team.
Oceanside’s Nicole Hause and Encinitas residents Bryce Wettstein and 14-year-old phenom Brighton Zeuner join Barratt as her park teammates.
“It’s a huge honor to be on Team USA,” said Barratt who is the 11th overall ranked skateboarder in the world according to Boardr Global Ranks. She recently placed fourth at the 2019 Sao Paulo Pro Tour Finals in Brazil with a score of 79.20.
Barratt is a 2017 San Dieguito High School Academy graduate who made the transition to skateboarding at 11 years old after surfing the waves in her home state of Hawaii.
“I moved to Encinitas because of my skating. It’s really like the mecca of skating,” said Barratt. “There are so many pros that live here and so many insanely good parks in such a short distance.”
Schaar has a similar story of relocation to Encinitas as he and his family came down from Malibu. Schaar made history at just 12 years old when he landed the first ever 1080, a full three-revolution aerial spin performed on a ramp.
He shortly after became the youngest person to ever win an X-Games Gold Medal after pulling off his signature 1080 at the 2012 Asia X Games in Shanghai. Currently he is the sixth ranked skateboarder in the world at just 19 years old.
Schaar will join men’s skateboard park teammates Tristan Rennie, Zion Wright and Alex Sorgenete on USA Men’s Skateboard Park team.
“It’s actually pretty crazy, I can’t believe that it had never made a place at the Olympics,” said Schaar about the recent introduction of skateboarding into the world’s most recognizable sporting stage.
Although Schaar used to focus his efforts on big air skating, where he became famous for his 900 and 1080 spins, he has skated more park style in the last couple of years.
Park skateboarding takes place in a set of combined concrete bowls that have different featured obstacles and provide a mixture of vert skateboarding and street obstacles.
The other skateboarding event that the Olympics will host is street skateboarding, which involves urban obstacles like stairs and benches.
Team USA Women’s Skateboard Street members include Lacey Baker, Mariah Duran, Alexis Sablone and Jenn Soto. In Men’s Skateboard Street, Jagger Eaton, Nyjah Huston, Chris Joslin and Louie Lopez will represent the United States.
Barratt is excited for what opportunities the exposure of the Olympics will provide for women in sport. “Being a woman, what I like about it most is that it makes everything be equal,” said Barratt. “For (skateboarding) to come all the way to being the same amount of prize money and pretty much the same amount of contest and sponsorships, it’s pretty cool.”
Looking forward, both Barratt and Schaar have busy schedules before the Olympics. The results from the World Skateboard Championships this coming September and the totals from a range of professional skateboarding events between May 2019 and June 2020 will determine if they earn a spot on the Olympic stage.
Barratt just finished fourth at the Vans Park Series event in Sao Paulo and now she is on the move again. “I’m going to Germany for another event, (then I go) back home for three days, then I’m off to Canada. From Canada I go to China and it just keeps going forever,” she said.
Schaar, however, has to pause his busy schedule to recover from an injury.
“I’m hurt right now. I’m just trying to rehab. I should probably start skating in a couple of weeks,” said Schaar, who fractured his hip in three places, and had to get two screws to help the healing process.
Josh Friedberg, CEO of USA Skateboarding said, “Skateboarding grew up outside of the Olympic structure. It’s a lifestyle, it’s a culture, it’s about finding freedom of expression,” when speaking with the AP as the national team was introduced at the CA Training Facility in March. “All these things are why the IOC wanted skateboarding in the Olympic Games in the first place,” Friedberg added.
In total, the Olympic Games in Tokyo will have 40 spots for skaters of each gender, with 20 skaters in both the street and park competitions for men and women.
Each nation can have a maximum of 12 skaters at the Olympics across the two categories of street and park with only three permitted in each event for both genders.
The Tokyo Olympics begin July 24, 2020, with the street skate event to take place first on July 26 and July 27. The park skate event is Aug. 6 and Aug. 7.