As the clock in his classroom ticks ever-so-slowly toward the end-of-day bell at 2:15 p.m., Armstrong Len Wood Middle School Grade 8 student Wyatt Anderson begins to think about flairs, barspins, quad whips, buttercups and front flips.
Anderson gets picked up after school by his mom, Heather, who drops him and his custom-made Grit two-wheeled scooter, complete with longboard and handle, off at the Armstrong Skate Park.
It is there, with friends like Nick, Andrew and Aidan, that Anderson perfects those maneuvres, and creates new ones, as he climbs the ranks as one of North America’s top professional riders with the International Scooter Association (ISA).
Anderson, who celebrated his 14th birthday May 5, will stay at the skate park until 9 p.m. on school nights, and even later on weekends, holidays and summer vacation. In the summer, he’ll start at the park at around 11 a.m. You know, after sleeping in.
Scootering is his life.
“I just love the feeling of learning new tricks and progressing and getting better,” said Anderson, who said a boosted flair over a bowl is his favourite move.
All of those hours at the skate park are paying off for Anderson and getting him noticed in the professional scooter world.
He won the intermediate division at the first competition he entered in Kelowna in the summer of 2016. On April 30, Anderson was in Coquitlam for one of five North American ISA regional qualifiers, the first stepping stone toward the World Final in Barcelona in June.
At regional qualifiers, the direct winner plus the next 10 finishers advance to the regional finals in Chino, Cal. There, the top-10 earn tickets to Barcelona.
Those are for pro riders. Anderson entered in Coquitlam in the Intermediate division. After one ride, the manager of his Grit sponsor team moved Anderson into the pro ranks, competing against riders several years older than him.
He finished second, earning a trip to Chino.
“I was quite excited (about being moved to pro), said Anderson, who finished behind Jordan Robles of San Diego. “I thought it would be pretty cool. I was OK with it. I didn’t think I’d do well. I thought maybe the highest I’d finish would be about seventh.”
Riders get two runs in a skatepark, each run a minute in length, to do the best tricks they can possibly do on their scooters over jumps and bowls. Judges score competitors out of 100 on style, use of the entire park, accuracy and difficulty of trick. Anderson scored 73 on his first run, 69.67 on his second. Robles had scores of 68.67 and 74, the top score of the event.
In California, in a field of 35 – average age of competitor, 17.5, and three other 14-year-olds – Anderson finished 23rd with scores 71 and 72.4. Bransyn Smith of Chino won the event with identical runs of 85.8.
“It was scary,” said Anderson. “The best riders in North America were there.”
“He’s a very clean rider, very consistent,” said mom Heather.
“He lands everything about 90 per cent of the time, which is hard to do in competition.”
Anderson was sixth among eight Canadians in the field. Top Canuck was fellow 14-year-old Cole Zimmerman of Stevensville, Ont., who was 10th, earning a trip to the World Final. Kelowna’s Jai Walker, 19, was 13th in Chino, though Anderson beat him in Coquitlam (Walker was fourth).
Anderson got into scootering when he was six or seven, on a visit to a cousin’s house in Washington state. He found his cousin’s old fold-up Razor-brand scooter and wouldn’t get off it.
When his parents, Heather and Aaron, picked him up, he was sad to leave the scooter behind.
“We picked up one to bribe him to come home and he’s basically never stopped riding,” said Heather.
“That’s all he’s ever wanted to do. Sometimes we’d spend six or seven hours in a lawn chair here (skate park) with him.”
The five-foot-three, 100-pound Anderson was back on his Grit after Chino, practising maneuvres and creating new tricks.
“All day, I’m thinking about scootering,” said Anderson, who creates memories of his moves and accomplishments on his Instagram account (wymaster03, named after the nickname his dad gave him as a kid).
“I’ll be here anywhere from seven-to-12 hours a day. I love riding with the guys.”