Ashland teen to compete in 2022 world scooter event
At the Ashland Skate Park on a recent weekday afternoon, a handful of kids were taking advantage of the perfect fall weather — sunny, 70 degrees and little wind. With their scooters and skateboards, they coasted around the park to bass-booming reggae music amid the foliage around them.
And there was 15-year-old Bodhi Sol, very much in his element. In a sweatshirt and helmet, he zipped around the concrete bowl with his scooter and even completed a back flip.
“For me, it’s something I turn to if I’ve had a hard day or just want to get out of the house and relax,” Bodhi said. “It’s almost therapeutic.”
For Bodhi, the park was a much different setting compared to his recent outings. The Ashland High School student had just placed fifth in the International Scooter Federation’s North America Scooter Open, Oct. 30-31, in Tucson, Arizona. Now, he awaits the world championship next year in Denmark, which had been delayed due to the pandemic.
“It’s a little surprising -- I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet,” Bodhi said of his achievement. “It will be really exciting for me because it will be my first time traveling out of the country.”
When asked how he thought he would do at the world competition, Sol said he’s “not holding my hopes too high,” but hopes he does “decently well.”
Bodhi is sponsored by Soul Flow Pro Scooters in Springfield, near Eugene. Kim Combs, the company’s founder and Bodhi’s mentor, set the stage for what the 14-year-old is up against across the Atlantic.
“It’s going to be a tough competition … a showdown,” Combs said.
Bodhi always loved riding out in the open on wheels. But his scooter journey began four years ago, when he purchased one from a bike store.
“As they say, the rest is history,” Bodhi said.
Bodhi ditched his bike and started bringing his scooter to the Ashland Skate Park. It would be his training ground before any serious competition.
“I was free — not that I’m not free now — for probably the first two years,” Bodhi said. “Then, I started to take it a little more seriously once I got the hang of some of the harder tricks.”
Combs remembers when Bodhi first visited Soul Flow Pro Scooters several years ago, as it was the only place to get parts.
“It was just something I saw in him when I first started to see him ride,” Combs said. “I could see his dedication and commitment and I just got this feeling. I’ve been watching riders for a long time. He was just one of these riders … he just kept getting better and better.”
Bodhi initially represented the Soul Flow Pro Scooters Team before becoming a member.
“I started to compete more and place higher and started to increase my tricks library, I would say,” said Bodhi, who accepted an offer join in 2019. “They reached out to me and asked if I was ready for the next step.”
Combs said Bodhi has participated in the United Scooter Association competitions — a “who’s who” of U.S. scooterists — for several years.
Eventually Bodhi was able to compete in the International Scooter Federation’s junior division. That’s what led him to Tucson and earned him the opportunity to go to Denmark.
In Tucson, Bodhi placed eighth in his first round. The next day, he placed fifth. Combs applauded the fact that Bodhi placed so high in the U.S. among all scooter riders for his age.
“It’s crazy incredible — especially for Bodhi, because he has been riding seriously for about three years,” she said. “That’s fast.”
Bodhi’s father, Erik, believes the recent competition was good for Bodhi because the top rank “was not up there on a silver platter.”
“He had to perform against the best in North America to make the top five,” Erik said.
Bodhi called the competition “a super-awesome experience.”
Before Tucson, it wasn’t all success for Bodhi. When he felt he didn’t perform as well as he thought he would in Portland and Salem, he took a break.
“I just had time to focus on … improving on my mistakes and get a feel for how I wanted to ride, linking multiple tricks together and keeping speed,” Bodhi said.
Combs called Bodhi “one of the most naturally skilled riders I’ve ever met.”
Erik doesn’t take credit for encouraging his son to take up the scooter. One of the things he likes most about his pursuits is that Bodhi is “finding his own path.”
“I want him to be happy and make connections with other human beings that are really positive … and get a perspective on what life is like outside of the Rogue Valley,” Erik said. “I’m not freaking out — I’m stoked for him. To be able to do ... what you’re passionate about and allow that to be the vehicle to see the world, that’s as good as it gets.”
Erik added that for Bodhi to ride his scooter competitively, he has to have physical strength and excellent hand-eye coordination.
“All of it — it’s a tremendous opportunity to stay physically and mentally fit,” Erik said. “Mentally, it runs the gamut — you’ve got to be creative. How do you use the features in the park? How do you score points? What are the judges like?”
Asked whether Erik thinks his son could compete with his scooter professionally, he did not rule it out.
“The sky’s the limit,” Erik said. “I think it’s an emerging sport and it’s opening up for him.”
When it comes to competing, Combs noted the mantra she tells Bodhi and other riders.
“You don’t have to win to be great,” Combs said. “Going out there and giving it your best and coming out with a clean, respectable run is the most we could ever ask of any of our riders, and that is definitely something Bodhi does.”