When 19-year-old Nicole Hause was growing up in the late ’90s, there was this popular show on Nickelodeon called Rocket Power, a surf-and-skate cartoon where tan, floppy-haired rugrats rode tsunamis and avalanches.
It left her with this fantasy of becoming a skateboarder, an oddity in her diehard Stillwater basketball family. Where they lived, there was no skate park for miles. Because none of Nicole’s friends shared her interests, she learned just by kicking around in her driveway by herself.
Skateboarding was painful, and put her on her ass a thousand times a day. Nicole stuck with it, she says, because of how free it made her feel. Every day she’d pick up her board and do what she wanted to do, learn what she wanted to learn. There were no layups on repeat, no drills, no coach.
“It’s just your own art form. And I’ve always wanted to go fast, and go high.”
Eventually the call of California, kingdom of the skaters, would come for Nicole. There were no big parks in Minnesota to feed her growing appetite for taller ramps and bigger pipes. Every now and then someone would take her to Golden Valley to skate the 3rd Lair indoor park, but it was far away, and she couldn’t always find someone to drive. She wanted to stay with her family and graduate with her friends, but she felt stranded in a state that didn’t share her passion.
So Nicole’s home-builder father made her a 13-foot vert ramp in their barn. It took two weeks for him to build by hand. And that’s where she skated, every day through high school, until she finally packed her bags for the West Coast.
The 2017 X Games has been like a homecoming for Nicole. Determined to qualify in Boise, she flew out to the park three weeks early, slept in a tent nearby, and practiced hard every day. Right before the contest, she fell and cracked her hip, but ended up getting wildcarded in anyway.
Minneapolis will be Nicole’s second X Games appearance.
She says she’s eternally grateful to the X Games board for giving her the chance to share her dream with everyone driving up from Stillwater, and to show all the little girls watching the X Games that they can put their bodies through crazy things too.
“I can take a beating, and I can get back up. Anyone can do it,” she says. “But if you don’t like the beating part, this might not work out.”