Popular tour tests riders' limits

FLIPPIN' BRILLIANT: Mita Timpson, 17, from Stoke, lands his first-ever front flip during the Motueka heat of the Tasman Skatepark Tour.
FLIPPIN' BRILLIANT: Mita Timpson, 17, from Stoke, lands his first-ever front flip during the Motueka heat of the Tasman Skatepark Tour.

The Tasman Skatepark Tour has been a big hit with young riders from the Nelson-Tasman region.

Eight rounds of BMX, skateboard and scooter competitions conclude this Saturday when up to 40 riders will drop into the Richmond skatepark and tailwhip, ollie and 360 their way through their gravity-defying runs.

The Leader talked to one of the region's top scooter riders, Mita Timpson, 17, to see what all the fuss is about.

When did you start riding scooters?

About a year ago. I'd done a bit of skateboarding and then decided to try scooters. I saw my friends playing around on them and thought it looked like fun. It's better now that they make good scooters that don't break all the time, too.

What did your scooter cost?

New, mine would cost about $900.

What makes them so expensive?

They are made of top material. It's really lightweight and super strong. It rides well too. It does cost a bit but Village Cycles have helped me out with discount and things.

Did it take you long to get the hang of it?

No, I just got on and rode it. I was doing 360s and tailwhips in half an hour. Then I started double tailwhips and things like that. I just watched my friends and copied them. On Saturday I did my first front flip at Motueka. I'd tried it on my cousin's trampoline but never on a skatepark. That's the best thing about skating and scooters - you keep trying new things and new challenges.

So you practise on the trampoline?

Sometimes. You just do the tricks bouncing on the tramp and holding your scooter. If you mess it up it's a softer landing than concrete. All the pros practise their tricks jumping into foam pits but I haven't got one of those!

Are you enjoying the Tasman tour?

Yes, it's great. It's good riding at new parks and meeting new people. You also push yourself harder in competition than you would just practising and playing around. I wouldn't have tried the front flip unless I'd been competing. And I've won all my heats except Tapawera - I screwed up everything that day. I couldn't get any of my tricks.

Do you want to compete nationally or internationally?

Yes. I want to get to the South Island champs later this year and Dad said I could go to nationals next year. They have scooters in the X Games now too so it would be cool to go there if I ever got good enough.

How many tricks do you do in a competition?

We have about a minute-and-a-half and if you get a good line you can do up to 40 tricks but I usually do about 20.

The skateboarding scene sometimes gets a bad rap as cap-wearing, graffiti artists who run pensioners off the footpaths. What do you think about that?

It's not like that in Nelson. We are just the same as any kids doing sport. We also respect other people and the skateparks.

I've ridden in Christchurch though and it's different down there - they have a bad reputation.

I got hit by old people with walking sticks four times when I was down there riding. One of them hit me when I was riding on the road and yelled at me to get off the road and then I got hit three times when I was on the footpath.

How fast have you gone on your scooter?

I've passed cars going downhill before so we must have been going over 50 (kmh). That was fun.

Who is your role model?

Ryan Williams and Max Peters. They are Australian scooter riders who are really good. Ryan Williams has the most followers on YouTube in the world. They get paid pretty well, too.

How do the skateparks in Nelson and Tasman stack up?

They're pretty good. I like Neale Park the best because it has a street area and that suits my style. But I'd love to ride in Australia. They have some of the biggest skateparks in the world.

Good luck in the last two rounds.