Ben Thomas has been on the Freestyle Now squad since the beginning of this year. Although he had been attending many of our coaching workshops and competitions prior to then as a coach and judge. Recently Ben attended the Extreme Barcelona contest in Spain for the International Scooter World titles where he took home the 2nd place, in a very close competition. For the past five years Ben has placed in the top five at the international scooter world titles. After the contest in Spain Ben traveled to Helsinki and Prague and rode a few skateparks and street spots. We caught up with Ben while he prepares to head off to California for this year’s 2016 Pro Scooter Series.
Congratulations on your 2nd place at the worlds in Barcelona, how do you feel about that?
Thank you! I feel stoked! is probably the word to describe it at best, I feel like a big boost of confidence has rose up within my riding and just super stoked on it all.
How close were the points between 1st and 2nd at the worlds?
In the final I got 86 points and Jordan Clarke got 88.6. It was only 2.6 point the difference. Yeah very close. Too close.
Did you feel disappointed from missing out by such a small amount?
I guess so in a way, but also not really, because I know I tried my best. I gave everything that I had.
Do you think you could have done anything different in you run to get more points or don’t you look at it in that way?
For sure, I think there is certain tricks that I did or could have done to better my run, but I look at it as I did my best on the day and in the moment so I’m happy! But there is always room for improvement!
Can we ask how much did you win for taking the 2nd place?
I actually forgot to send my details for the prize money, so I’m still waiting on the prize money. I think it adds up to a couple thousand dollars though.
How important is that placing within the scooting world?
I think it is very important, because I have held onto top 5th place in the worlds for the past 5 years, then bringing back 2nd again, last time was back in 2012. I feel it helps to remind people that I am still one of the best out there.
How was this recent trip like compared to other trips you been on?
This trip was one of the best for sure, so many sick times with all the boys. Got to experience many things as usual when you travel, just great bunch of memories to have! I think because scooting is growing so fast that this year was more special, scooting is huge now and to have a trip of that caliber and to place that high in the competition was just incredible.
Can you tell us a bit about your trip to Helsinki and Prague?
Okay, so my trip to Helsinki and Prague was cool. Never been to those countries before so was a fresh experience. Prague was a very cool place to explore, did a bit of sightseeing as well as riding. Love the old buildings and culture there, very cool. On the first day in Prague we rode an awesome street plaza, built from old limestone ledges and things. We also hosted a high jump competition and best trick on this down rail, was cool to see the locals get involved! Throughout the rest of the days we just rode different spots, filmed and had an awesome trip! I was there for 5 days. Was a great experience to see their culture and would be keen to go back for sure.
Okay now Finland. Finland was really cool! One of the most chilled and hectic trips that I have been on to date for sure. The person I stayed with Jani, was such a cool guy, awesome to hang with! Almost every day there was at least 5 of us just mobbing the streets, skateparks, riding, filming and having a great time! I tried some Awesome Finish foods like the lollies and meals, they were sick. One thing that was crazy about Finland was the daylight in summer, explains the hectic part of the trip haha! So it was summer time when I went over, so the sun over there stays up 22hrs of the day. Which is crazy to me, and I’m sure to anyone that isn’t used to it. You could squeeze a lot in the day, but you’re energy was depleted like crazy, you were up doing stuff for so long. Defiantly a trip to remember also. Was there for about 5 days as well. Would head back for sure!
How do you see Scooter progression changing in the next year?
I think it will change quite a bit, more nitro circus, more competitions, everything will just progress more in ways that I don’t even know yet haha. The future holds many possibilities, as long as we are growing with it the possibilities are endless.
How do you combat the pressure of learning new tricks to stay up with the world best?
It’s really hard, a lot of effort is needed to stay at that peak condition, like practice, making sure you’re tricks are consistent and having new things to throw out there to stand out. Takes much more work that people think to perfect.
You’re heading off to America soon, what are you going there for?
Yes I am heading of to L.A. California, for this year’s 2016 Pro Scooter Series, once again massive prize pool and awesome parks around the world.
How much pressure gets put on you from your sponsors to stay on top, or is it more your own pressure?
It’s probably more your own pressure, I mean, obviously you’re sponsors want you to go well but they never force me or say anything towards me that is of a standard that I have to do. It’s always on me how I perform and that can be quite a bit to deal with.
When will he be doing a flair off the counter of his local maccas?
Never hahaha, don’t buy Maccas.
What are your thoughts on scooters in the nitro world games?
I think that it was a great idea to help promote and showcase the sport, how quickly the sport is growing and to show people what we can do, it’s not just a kids toy anymore.
Would you like to jump that size of jumps?
Yes I would like to give it a go! For sure.
Who is your favorite scooter rider/s?
I don’t have a favorite scooter rider hahah, if I was to have a favorite rider Capron Funk would probably have to be the one, you just never know what’s coming up in his comp runs, he will surprise you with such cool looking tricks and such different tricks also, good to see
Were you happy with your run at the Australian titles and your placing? (14th place)
I was fairly happy with my runs not my placing though.
What do you think of competitions?
Competitions will always be competitive, I am a very competitive person when it comes to sports, that’s what drives me and keeps me at the top. I feel that competitions need to have a level of standard with judging and with the facility that they choose the competition to be held at, it affects the riders massively if they are not organised right.!
Aggression at skateparks towards scooters still seems common, do you think that it’s a scooter problem or just an age of participants problem, what’s your take on that?
Scooters have always been given grief at skateparks, I feel that it’s more of an age dilemma, kids not knowing what they are doing at a skatepark can make everyone’s day miserable that are just trying to have a good time and ride the facility. I get annoyed sometimes when there is hardly anyone at the skatepark that doesn’t have skatepark etiquette. I think that the more people knew about what they were supposed to be doing on the park the better it would be.
Ben’s flair game is strong on this rad street spot in Helsinki
You get to go to lots of the Freestyle Now coaching sessions, how do you think your presents at a session impacts on the young riders?
I think that my presence is a big impact and influence towards them as a rider or a role model, I try to keep it as real with them as I can and be a good role model towards them. I feel it gives them a good sense of direction for what you can achieve within the sport and that you can become known also. Awesome feeling.
I know you might not like this question because you must get asked a gazillion times but what’s your hardest trick?
I feel that the hardest trick I have landed was a few years back when I landed my 720 Backflip! That to me was fairly insane hahah.
How did you get into scooters?
One day me and a group of mates decided to buy some cheap scooters from I think it was Big W or something, one of the first Blade scooters. Anyways we decided to buy them to ride to school just for abit of fun transport to get to school, this was when I was about 12. We noticed there was a skatepark down the road, like literally less than 50m. So we decided to go there after school and try it out, then we stared to really catch a feel for it, so we decided to leave home extra early to get a morning session in before class started. Then it just took off from there.!
How were you able to climb to the top of the pro ladder?
I don’t really know how to answer this question, I guess just my determination and push that helped me to get through it all I think. I had an ankle injury at the start of it all, so just had to push through that and then just keep ahead of it all.
Can you tell us about your line of signature parts with grit scooters?
Yes defiantly. My current line of Signature products with Grit Scooters consist of my Ben Thomas Signature Deck & Ben Thomas signature Bars! My Signature deck is a very light and but a durable product, coming in at 4.5 inch wide and 19.75 inch long. 6061 heat treated alloy, with a 3 Degree concavity. With the bars also very light weight and durable, they come in at 24 inch wide by 26 inch high. They are made from a new hydro formed alloy, to give them extra strength within maintaining their extreme light weight. I will also be releasing a signature full scooter within the future, so keep an eye out.
Leg wrap at a DIY park in Helsinki, possibly at 9pm at night?
Are you a glass half empty or half full kind of guy?
I’m a glass half full kind of guy for sure, more towards the side of an optimist, always try and see the good in a situation or an opportunity in every difficulty.
What advice would you give to someone who one day wants to become pro?
I would say to them, you can do it, as long as you stay strong and will minded, keep practicing and stay passionate towards something that you want to achieve, you can achieve it. For sure.
Do you have any shouts outs or thanks to give?
Shout out to Grit Scooters for keeping me out there doing stuff in the world and to all my sponsors, Freestyle Now of course! Gain Protection & Tortoise pads for keeping it real