By Mary O’KEEFE
Imagine your job was to travel around the world doing what you love. Sounds perfect, right? Now imagine you are only 17 years old. That is the dream life of Dakota Schuetz, professional scooter rider.
Schuetz discovered the sport – and his love for it – when he was 10 years old. Back then, the popularity of scooter riding was just beginning to take off. With more riders taking part, scooter designs improved rapidly, and the strength of scooters increased to withstand the gravity defying stunts that Schuetz, and other professional scooter riders, now perform.
“[The sport] is growing everyday,” Schuetz said. “It is really growing in Europe and Australia.”
Schuetz travels around the world for competitions and to share the freestyle scooter riding tricks and tips with young riders. He stopped by TC Scooters in La Crescenta on Tuesday, after a five-week European trip, to sign autographs and to perform some stunts.
Before he went professional, Schuetz had his own scooter business.
“I had my own scooter company for three years,” he said. He also used to attend schools for stunt shows and the more he learned, the more he knew he wanted to go pro.
“I just got better and better,” he said.
Then he began competing – and winning. Like any athlete, getting better meant hours and hours of practice with a few injuries along the way.
“I’ve had a few sprains,” he said. “And have broken a few fingers.”
Watching Schuetz ride the scooter then flip, it is difficult to believe that he has only had a few sprains.
“I wear a lot of padding,” he confided.
He wears the safety equipment that allows him to do the gravity defying stunts without career ending injuries.
For someone who spends most of his time airborne, Schuetz has his feet planted firmly on the ground when it comes to business. Through his sponsor, Lucky Scooters, he has his own line of clothing and in August will release a new Lucky scooter that he designed.
“It will be beefed up,” he promised.
Schuetz has won several competitions including first place awards from Montreux 2011-2013 in Switzerland, Freestyle Scooter Contest 2012-2013 in France, Scootfest 2012 in the United Kingdom, International Scooter Association World Championship in 2012 and he holds the Guinness Book of World Records for most back flips in one minute.
All of this makes him well known, especially in the scooter world.
Benjamin Mesirow is only 5 years old and he has already mastered the bunny hop on his scooter. Schuetz gave him a few tips on how to expand that stunt. Benjamin’s dad, Mike, is proud of how well and how fast his son has picked up the sport. He shared the video of him performing the stunt.
Mike, who lives in Sunland, was driving down Foothill Boulevard when he noticed TC Scooters. He stopped by and spoke to owner, Calvin Chock, who told him about Schuetz’s visit. Mike and his son came by on Tuesday and got Benjamin’s scooter autographed.
“It’s a great [sport],” he said. He added that it strengthens coordination and is a great way to get his son outdoors and having fun.
Chock was contacted by a Lucky representative that Schuetz would be available to stop by the store.
“He said Dakota was going to be in the area and asked if I wanted him to stop by,” he said. His answer was yes, of course, and he began spreading the word.
Chock got into the world of scooters because of his son Tyler.
“It was really Tyler’s idea to open a scooter store,” he said.
Chock was surprised at how many scooter riders and skate boarders there were in the area.
He has become a strong supporter for the Crescenta Valley skate park project. About two years ago, a group of skaters led by Cooper Iven began working with the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation to design and open a local skate park. The project is now at the phase of having community meetings to discuss the project.
Having a local skate park would give kids like Fremont Elementary sixth grader Brian Harley and his friends a place to skate and scooter. Brian has been riding scooters for about two years.
“It’s easy to learn but you have to practice a lot,” Brian said.
He and his friends dropped by the scooter store to meet Schuetz. They got to do a couple of stunts themselves and then got an autograph.
“You can do cool tricks,” Brian said of scooter riding. “And it’s fun to ride.”
For information on the Lucky company and Dakota “Kota” Schuetz, visit www.luckyscoot.com or www.cvweekly.com for videos of Kota.
TC Scooters is located at 2914 Foothill Blvd. in La Crescenta.