Fifteen-year-old Gus Rymer of Southold spends his days trying to catch as much air as he can. He flies through the sky much like Superman or Spider-Man, but instead of donning a cape or shooting out webs, he uses a scooter.
Freestyle scootering is becoming the new extreme sport that is rising in popularity and edging out skateboards. "Scooters are taking over," says Paul Denaga, scooter manager at Oil City Skate Park in Oceanside. "It's like a cross between a bike and a skateboard. Kids have more control with a scooter, and they get hooked on it."
Rymer is a bit of an anomaly. Riding since age 10, he's gone pro, landing a gig with scooter manufacturer Madd Gear's street team and competing all over the country.
"Gus is a role model for the sport. He throws down tricks bigger than anybody I've ever seen," says team manager Anthony "Twan" Bustos. "He can pretty much do anything. I see him becoming one of the top scooter riders in the world."
One of Rymer's best tricks is called six tailwhips. After gaining speed from riding a ramp, he spins the bottom part of the scooter (called the deck) 360 degrees six times with his feet while airborne. Says Rymer: "If you get creative, you can do anything."
RIDING ON LI
There are two types of scooting -- park and street. In a skate park, scooter kids ride on half-pipe ramps and jump off launchpads called fly boxes. On the street, they perform tricks using whatever is around. Kids can often be seen sliding the deck of their scooters, known as grinding, along any straight edge they can find.
Here are three skate parks that welcome scooters but require helmets plus knee and elbow pads.
3565 Maple Ct., Oceanside
INFO 516-442-0703, oilcitysk8.com
ADMISSION $12 a session ($27 includes one-time waiver fee)
This indoor skate park caters to both scooter riders and skateboarders and even offer scooter lessons Saturday and Sunday mornings.
"At the beginning of each month, we hold scooter competitions called Scooter Sickness that draws people from all over," says Denaga. "These kids are looking for bigger ramps and more hang time. On our course, we offer a vert ramp that's 10 feet in the shape of a U; it's quite challenging."
The park is currently under repair from storm damage -- call for updates before you go.
269 Rte. 25A, Mount Sinai
INFO 631-474-2900, inline1.com
ADMISSION $15 a session ($55 includes waiver and membership fees)
Inline1 Extreme is based outdoors and skews for the more advanced scooter and skateboard riders. The park is known for its popular fly box and 12-foot vert ramp. "They have some of the best ramps, and they maintain them well," says Rymer. "Most of it is big transitions which you can get a lot of air on. Plus, they have cool rails that you can grind on too."
Pulaski Street, Riverhead
INFO 631-208-3826, townofriverheadny.gov
ADMISSION $7 nonresidents (free for residents)
Riverhead Skate Park is a user-friendly outdoor facility for beginners and intermediate riders with two 4-foot ramps and a spine in the middle to grind on.
"The mini-ramp is very special. It's perfectly sized, so you can have a lot of fun on it," says scooter rider Joe Mitchell, 19, of Ronkonkoma. "It's just big enough that you don't have to try really hard or risk yourself to enjoy it. Plus you can get a lot of friends in there and have a great session together."