Editor’s note: This is part one of a three part series on skateboarder Mitchie Brusco.
ENCINITAS — By all accounts, Mitchie Brusco is a quintessential teenager. But the unassuming Kirkland, Wash., native, who just relocated to Encinitas, is the most dynamic up-and-comer in the action sports world.
Mitchie, the 14-year-old skateboarding prodigy known as “Little Tricky,” made his first X Games appearance July 29 in the Skateboard Big Air final. In its 17th year, the X Games has become the mother lode of action sports where the level of competition amps up every year to higher levels than ever imagined.
Bob Burnquist, a Vista resident and mentor to Mitchie, and is 20 years his senior who has competed in every X Games since 1995, came in first. Mitchie finished fifth with a score of 81.33. He completed his first run, landing a 360-degree turn following by a 540-degree turn off the quarter pipe.
Having landed a solid first showing at the action sports competition mecca is hardly the whole story of who Mitchie is and what he’s capable of achieving-both on and off a skateboard.
“I’m always wanting to do better,” he said. “Always.”
And better he did. He reached the unthinkable benchmark in skateboarding that catapulted him into another league — the 900 club. The 900 — a two-and-a-half revolution airborne spin, is skateboarding’s most elusive trick — the sport’s Holy Grail.
Only six have conquered it, but Mitchie became the youngest when he nailed it during the MegaRamp Championship series in July in Sao Paulo, Brazil after only a few hours of practice.
Local skateboard trailblazer Tony Hawk, 43, who landed the first 900 in 1999 at the X Games after several failed tries on the vertical ramp, gave Mitchie props via Twitter. The video of Mitchie’s monumental feat went viral and new fans came out of the woodwork from around the globe.
While Mitchie’s tenure on the skateboarding competition circuit is significantly less than his fellow competitors, his experience and success relative to his age is remarkable. He began skating on a big-box store-bought skateboard at age three. After wearing out the kitchen floor and putting a hole in the wall, it was time to move on to more sophisticated equipment.
These days, decks, pads, wheels and everything else a skater needs are delivered to Mitchie in neatly packaged boxes from sponsors.
At 5, Mitchie became the youngest athlete to compete at the Gravity Games in Cleveland, Ohio. The event boosted his “wow” factor. He’s been a regular on the Dew Tour, perfecting complex tricks on the vertical ramp.
“When there is a vert contest and you have a vert skater you have to take them,” said his mother, Jen Brusco.
While he’s still amateur, there’s no denying his level of determination and skill. Why choose a sport that’s so taxing on the body and littered with competition?
“Skateboarding is independent, there’s no coach,” Mitchie said. “I like it because you can do whatever you want.”
“I think the most impressive thing about him is that skateboarding doesn’t define him,” Jen said. “I can’t even count the pros who’ve said to me that they recognize him as much for the level of respect he shows and humility he exudes as for his skating prowess.”
Mitchie, the fourth of five siblings, credits his family’s support for his success. Along with his mother and dad, Mick, Brusco relies on Michael, 20, Jessica, 21, Aly, 17, and Colie, 12, for encouragement — even when it’s from afar.
“It’s better than normal, we’re closer than most families,” Mitchie said.
“They are all supportive of each other,” Jen said, referring to her children. “They’re all independent but a package-they take care of each other.”
With a hectic travel schedule, Jen does her best to keep the family connected.
“We’ve always tried to take at least on family member with us on a trip,” she said. “The travel schedule has definitely taken its toll. I’ve sacrificed being away from home; the kids have sacrificed being away from me and Mitchie.”
Everyone was reunited for a brief, but well-deserved visit during the X Games.
Aside from sticking to his rigorous training schedule, Mitchie plans to get in some beach time now that he lives in Encinitas.
“Out of the 80-plus times we’ve been to California, he’s been to the ocean twice,” Jen said.