Skateboarding is more than just a way of life for Reese Nelson, it’s all she’s ever known.
The 10-year-old from Calgary can’t remember when she first started skating or when she first dropped into a halfpipe, it’s just been omnipresent in her life.
Given that, it’s no surprise she has caught the attention of skateboarding legend Tony Hawk.
Nelson will be competing in the women’s vert and the best trick events at the upcoming X-Games. Skating in the women’s vert is especially important for Nelson, since that event hasn’t been held at the X-Games since 2010, three years before she was born.
“It’s really exciting,” Nelson from Carlsbad, California, told The Canadian Press. “I’m excited for everybody to see what women can do on vert.”
Hawk, who has become a mentor and coach for Nelson, created his Vert Alert event in 2021 to try and promote the sport that made him an internationally renowned star. He made sure his tour has men’s and women’s events to help re-establish vert skateboarding for women.
“They’re not seeing the bigger picture or looking further beyond like specific events,” said Hawk of the omission of women’s vert from other competitions. “There is a thriving skate scene of women that do skate vert. A lot of them also skate park and vert but now there are a select few that are focusing strictly on vert and thriving.”
Nelson is one of them.
She placed third in the women’s vert final at this year’s Vert Alert and won the women’s best trick event to clinch a spot at the X-Games, which will be in Ventura, California, on July 21-23.
Winning at Vert Alert also introduced Nelson to Hawk. She said she didn’t understand what a big deal he is in the skateboarding world at first.
“Not until the first time we went out and everybody went crazy about him being there,” said Nelson with a laugh. “I mean, it’s just normal for me, because we skate together a lot.
“When we do skate together, he has helped me on a lot of tricks.”
Hawk said that it’s been a pleasure coaching Nelson, who is very determined when she wants to nail a trick.
“She knows what she wants, she knows what she wants to do, and there is no compromise,” said Hawk with a chuckle.
Getting coached by Hawk is a big deal to Nelson’s parents as well.
“It’s so great to watch Reese doing what she loves,” said her mother Lindsey Bedier. “She’s this happy 10 year old who just happens to be super motivated and in love with skateboarding and I think her life is strange and crazy but for her, it’s just normal.
“These are her spaces. It’s very strange for us, but very normal for her.”
Hawk said that Nelson is a natural on a board and has immediately fit into the world of competitive skateboarding. He’s impressed with how far she has come in the past two years.
“In terms of difficulty factor, she’s on par with some of the best,” said Hawk. “It’s not a great surprise to me (that she’s qualified for the X-Games), but I’m super proud of her.
“I just hope that she doesn’t feel too much pressure about it. I hope she enjoys the ride and the opportunity as opposed to feeling like she has to perform to her utmost.”
The Associated Press