After missing her Stillwater Area High School graduation ceremony to participate in Austin, Texas a year ago, Nicole Hause returned home to compete in front of friends and family at this year’s X Games in Minneapolis.
The 19-year-old delivered two solid runs to finish fourth in the Women’s Skateboard Park competition on Saturday, July 15 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Hause’s top score of 81.66 left her two points behind bronze medalist Poppy Olsen (83.66). Brighton Zeuner celebrated her 13th birthday in grand fashion while claiming the gold medal with a score of 88.66, which was two points ahead of runner-up Jordayn Barratt (86.66).
Hause finished well ahead of fifth-place Kisa Nakamura (70.33), who was the defending champion.
Narrowly missing the medal stand provided mixed emotions for Hause, who improved on the 10th-place finish in her X Games debut a year ago.
“I’m not going to complain about fourth in the world,” Hause said. “I landed my run and did the best I could. I wish I could have gotten one of those cool Vikings ship medals.”
Hause was leading in the opening round until Zeuner stormed in front with what turned out to be her winning run. Hause was still looking solid for a medal, but Barratt and Olsen each surged ahead with their top scores in the second round.
“I ended up not landing my second run and Jordyn on her second run bumped me down,” said Hause, who added some more difficult elements to her second run. “I think on my second run, I kind of lost my speed. My second run would have bumped me into third place. I put a more challenging trick at the end, but I didn’t end up making it quite through because I lost my speed.”
Hause joined Zeuner as the only competitors to score in the 80s with both runs. She waited anxiously to learn her fate before the score from Barratt’s second run was unveiled.
“I wasn’t sure,” Hause said. “You just never know how. When I saw she landed a full run, I was preparing that I might be bumped down into fourth, but you never know how they’re going to judge it. It was just kind of helpless because who knows what’s going to happen.
“Definitely, it hurt after the contest. I had a tightness in my chest. It wasn’t easy, but you have to let it go and move on. It’s only one contest in my career and there’s tons more so you have to keep moving forward.”
It was the only disappointment in an otherwise memorable weekend for Hause, who was supported by a large cheering section of family and friends and so many outside of that circle who were pulling for the Minnesota native.
“I mean, I was stoked,” Hause said. “It was fun. It was a good experience and all my family was there.”
The midwest is not a skateboarding hotbed and top-level competitions are rarely held away from the west coast, so Hause realizes how fortunate she was to have an opportunity to compete in front of her biggest supporters.
“It’s crazy to think how the stars aligned,” Hause said. “It’s really cool and I’m really lucky to have grown up in Minnesota.
“There are contests in Minnesota, but they’re all amateur and on a small scale. I never thought the X Games would come to Minnesota. Most of the big contests are out west or in another country.”
Competing in Minnesota — and in front of a national audience on ESPN — has been on her mind since Minneapolis was announced as this year’s X Games site. She threw out the first pitch at a Minnesota Twins game and dealt with more media requests and other public appearances than many of the athletes leading up to the event, but she was remarkable calm when it was time to compete.
“For sure in the days leading up and months leading up to this contest I really felt a lot of pressure and was nervous, but the days leading up I was just trying to tell myself, ‘don’t over think it because that’s when you tense up,’” Hause said. “The days leading up I was super nervous because of all my friends and family and sponsors, but when I walked out there for practice, I just said ‘take some deep breaths and settle down. You can’t over think it because your muscles tense up and you don’t skate as well as you want to.’”
Her supporters did not share her sense of calm.
“They were all really excited to be there and they said it was really fun,” Hause said. “They said they were nervous themselves — they were probably more nervous than I was. It was crazy, they had a lot of fun. It was almost like golf where they didn’t know if they should be quiet, but I really liked hearing them.”
Hause now lives on the west coast, but enjoyed the extended visit back home. She arrived on July 7 and won’t return to California until July 26.
“It was nice to be able to sleep in my own bed and relax at home and debrief,” Hause said. “That was definitely nice.”
Those comforts, and having the experience of competing in last year’s X Games, helped pave the way to a better showing this time around.
“I was used to the crowd and how X Games works this year,” Hause said. “Competing last year in Texas made it easier to compete this year for sure. I actually wasn’t as nervous as I was at most contests. I was just like, you made it here and all your friends and family are here, so I had to trust my talent and go out there and let it happen. I was just trying to have fun. It was actually the least nervous I’ve ever been before competing.”
After narrowly missing out on a coveted medal, she’s hoping for another opportunity a year from now when the X Games returns to Minnesota.
“It starts all over,” Hause said.
• After competing in a Vans Park Series event in Huntington Beach, Calif., in early August, Hause will head to China in September for the Vert World Championships in Nanjing, China and later the VPS World Championships in Shanghai, China.
“There’s like an event every month,” Hause said.
Women’s Skateboard Park results
Rank Name Run 1 Run 2 Best
1. Brighton Zeuner 88.66 80.33 88.66
2. Jordyn Barratt 61.33 86.66 86.66
3. Poppy Olsen 71.00 83.66 83.66
4. Nicole Hause 81.66 80.33 81.66
5. Kisa Nakamura 66.00 70.33 70.33
6. Lizzie Armanto 65.66 69.00 69.00
7. Kihana Ogawa 65.33 68.00 68.00
8. Hanna Zanzi 60.33 50.00 60.33
Contact Stuart Groskreutz at [email protected]