WCMX is often described as “skateboarding for wheelchair users,” but given some of the tricks its riders pull off, it’s more like a cross between skating and dirtbiking. In fact, the sport’s name, WCMX, coined by back-and-front flipping Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham, is a mash-up of wheelchair and BMX.
The sport is still being organized, but now it has its own competitions, its own bad-ass, super-suspension, heavy-duty shock-absorbing chair capable of grinding on rails and backflips, and its own stars. Over 100 grinders and shredders are competing and perfecting their tricks worldwide. Here, we present four of the best: Christiaan “Otter” Baily, Jerry Diaz, Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham and Jonathan Stark.
Many people think of Christian “Otter” Bailey as the surfer guy — and he is — but he was the skater guy first. “I was a professional skater prior to my injury and was actually injured while skateboarding,” says Bailey, who lives in Santa Cruz. “So bringing my chair to the park was kind of the next natural evolution for me.” Bailey, 32, was injured at L3-4 while filming a skateboarding video in 2006 and says it wasn’t much longer after that before he was back at the skatepark practicing tricks.
Jerry Diaz, 27, says while he was still in rehab, he came across videos of WCMX riders backflipping in a wheelchair and thought, yeah, that’s what he wants to do. “When I healed up and got enough guts to try it, I went for it and I’ve been hooked ever since. I can’t stop,” says Diaz, a T10-12 para from Orlando, Fla.
Nitro Circus’ headlining rider Aaron Fotheringham, 22, is just back from a tour of Europe, where he wowed audiences with one of his best tricks — a double backflip. How’d the Las Vegas WCMX rider do it? Practice, practice, crashing, bailing and more practice, as seen in this video with over 1.3 million views.
Jonathan Stark, 23, says when he was in rehab for a T4 injury, a PT suggested he play wheelchair basketball. But the young man says he was not interested in the wheelchair sports that have been around forever. “So when I got out of the hospital, some friends took me to a skatepark and gave me a helmet,” says Stark, from Pittsburgh, Pa. A few Youtube and Facebook searches connected him with WCMX.
Want to shred? As intense as it is, WCMX is easy to break into — grab some protective gear and hit your local skatepark. Don’t worry if your injury is too high for the breathtaking tricks. Just do what you can. These guys welcome everyone, not just fellow daredevils, and you can find them all on Facebook.