Will Flores’ passion for skateboarding led him to the 2013 X Games Friday in California to compete with skaters from around the world.
The 19-year-old San Antonio native was one of just six boarders chosen for the Red Bull Phenom Street Skateboarding Competition in Los Angeles.
“I finished 5th but had a great time skating with everyone and met some new friends. The whole X Games experience was great, had lots of fun with everyone,” Flores said in a phone call after the event.
The Phenom’s amateur competitors were selected from video submissions in three events: Skate Street and two bicycling events, BMX Street and MTB Slopestyle. Finalists in each category earned an all-expense-paid trip to the X Games, the international festival featuring competition in action sports such as skateboarding and motocross.
“This kind of competition is great for them because it shows how the pros are riding and what is expected of them,” said skateboarding legend Steve Caballero. “It teaches them to deal with the pressure and what it is like to be exposed to the world.”
Flores, a sophomore marketing major at the University of Texas at San Antonio, met all the requirements for the competition: he was between the ages of 15 and 19, held amateur status, and had a video around 60 seconds long showing off his skills.
“I just found the contest on the Internet and happened to already have a video that fit the criteria,” Flores said. “I did it just to see what would happen without any expectations. A month later, I received an email that said I was in.”
Caballero, who has been skating for more than 30 years and was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2010, made the final competitor selections.
“I chose them from their tricks and how comfortable they looked on their boards, how well they could stay on them,” Caballero said.
Street skateboarding takes place on a course with obstacles you might find on a city street, such as stairs or benches. It’s about skating on things that are not meant for that purpose, Caballero said.
“The X Games go above and beyond on providing obstacles that give boarders the chance to bust out some really cool tricks,” he said.
Flores has been skating since he was 5 years old, but “really got into it” in middle school and at Madison High School.
His favorite place to skate is LBJ Skatepark on Nacogdoches Road in northeast San Antonio.
“It’s like my second home,” Flores said.
Friends, family and sponsors — Fast Forward Skateshop in the Quarry Market and Habitat Skateboards and Footwear — have been very supportive through the whole process, he said.
His father, Guillermo Flores, has been especially encouraging — and was able to accompany his son to Los Angeles for the X Games.
“My dad has always supported me and taken me around Texas to compete for years,” Flores said.
Guillermo Flores said he is “extremely proud” of his son.
“He has such a passion for skateboarding that drives him everyday,” he said. “I’m so honored he has had this opportunity.”
Flores had high expectations going into the event.
“I hoped to do my best and bring out everything I’ve got,” he said. “I wanted to meet new people, learn some new things and just enjoy it all.”
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