Onewheel riders unite at GoPro Mountain Games
VAIL — Robert Campbell came in from California looking for redemption on his Onewheel.
The Los Angeles resident was one of the original Kickstarter investors in the product — an electric skateboard of sorts that uses an inflatable tire to allow off-roading — and attended the GoPro Mountain Games in 2016 to see how his skills compared to other riders around the country.
After finishing fourth in last year’s first-ever Race for the Rail Onewheel cross competition, Campbell won the second iteration of the event at Golden Peak on Saturday. A total of 50 competitors made their way through qualifying to receive entries into Saturday’s bracket round.
“I just got lucky, I didn’t fall at the right time and other people fell at the wrong times,” Campbell said. “I had a lot of fun, so I would have been stoked either way … in Los Angeles, we don’t get this kind of stuff.”
The Golden Peak course showcased the versatility of the Onewheel, featuring singletrack, steep drops, banked turns, gravel sections, grass sections, pavement, wooden rails and jumps. It also showed that while the Onewheel can take users along slow and deliberate routes through crowds of people, it can also get extreme, as spectators were treated to several tumbling crashes throughout the competition.
Onewheel spokesman Jack Mudd said the Onewheel was invented for commuting, cruising around and making life easier, but the GoPro Mountain Games has brought out a competitive side of the Onewheel community.
“I think the Mountain Games is quickly becoming the Onewheel world championships,” he said. “It’s surreal, we’re really thankful for the community we have.”
You know a community is growing strong when crews spur off within that community.
Campbell represents a Onewheel crew known as the Hover Hooligans.
“We’re based out of Los Angeles, but we’re worldwide,” Campbell said. “We’re just a diverse team of individuals who try to push the sport of Onewheel to the edge … We’ve got people here from Colorado, NorCal, Chicago, San Diego, Hawaii, Florida. A couple of guys here just met for the first time.”
The Hover Hooligans competed against a different crew in the Ride for the Rail, the Onewheel Villains out of Utah.
“It’s awesome to see groups of Onewheelers coming together and riding all over the country,” Mudd said. “This is something that’s most fun when shared with others, and that’s what we’re seeing. It breeds a competitiveness and it breeds some really good Onewheeling.”
Mudd said two years ago, when the Onewheel was starting, they visited the GoPro Mountain Games and put on an informal competition. At that time, he would have never guessed that 50 Onewheel riders from around the country would gather in Vail two years later for a championship competition.
But around that same time Mudd met Campbell in Southern California; the two got together and rode Onewheels around the streets there, and Mudd had an eye opening moment.
“It was the first time I had ever rode with someone who was faster than me,” Mudd said from Golden Peak on Saturday. “That’s when I realized that this is taking off, it’s happening, people are pushing this farther. That was an exciting moment, and this is the continuation of that moment here today.”
For the win, Campbell received a one-of-a-kid siderail for the side of his Onewheel.
“It will hang on the wall in the Hover Hooligans hideout,” he said.