MINNEAPOLIS — She's only 21, but Nicole Hause is a skateboarding veteran in an X Games field that continues to get younger and younger.
The Stillwater native was recently named to Team USA for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where skateboarding will make its Olympic debut. But whether it's thousands of miles away or in her own backyard at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Hause find herself to be senior to her competition.
"I actually had to name myself 'team mom' because I was like 'Wow, I'm the oldest at 21. I have to keep these kids in line.' Some of them can't even drive," Hause said of her Olympic teammates during the 2019 X Games Minneapolis kickoff press conference Wednesday, July 31. "It's crazy, because a lot of these girls are starting now and they have a lot of opportunity. (When) I started, there was only one or two competitions a year. Now... there's going to be tons of contests and tons of opportunity for them to progress a little bit faster than girls before them."
Women's park skateboarding has been a part of X Games programming since 2013, and athletes described skateboarding finally getting its Olympic turn next year as a bit of a head-scratcher.
"It's crazy that it's taken this long for skateboarding to get into the Olympics," Hause said. "Action sports are something people want to see. I mean, speedwalking, beach wrestling ... I keep learning about some of these (past Olympic events), and I don't understand how this didn't happen years and years ago. It's a cool opportunity ... but thank God there's been the X Games to support us all these years."
For now, her focus remains on the four days of X Games competition beginning Thursday. Hause finished fourth in 2017 and fifth in 2018 in the skateboard park discipline, but a knee injury derailed her training leading up to this year's event.
"It's a pretty big kink in my prep overall," she said. "It happened at the end of March and I'm just getting back on my board. I've just been going contest, contest, contest. You only get maybe 10 minutes of actual skating. It's been hard finding the balance on how I'm going to make it work in the next couple days. But I'm going to try my best, that's all I can do."
It's a unique opportunity to showcase her talents in front of a home crowd. Hause said she has 150 friends and family coming to see her compete.
"They have never seen me compete in person, especially in Minnesota," she said. "Little skateboard events don't happen that much in Minnesota, let alone something on this scale. This is really, really rare for something like this to happen. It's awesome, and I'm stoked X Games is in Minneapolis. I think it's a good home for it, and the community has really taken it to heart."