Mountain biking has had a big influence on Nick Griesser, and his passion motivates him to make others aware of the sport.
The Glenelg resident has been biking since he was 10 years old and says he intends to continue mountain biking and "dirt jumping" for the rest of his life.
"I think people don't understand how big of an impact mountain biking can have on a community," he said. "If someone like me wasn't interested in team sports and likes to be on their own — it's nice to have.
"Usually when I'm biking, I don't think about too much except what I'm doing. It's freedom from everyday life, it's a stress reliever for me."
Griesser, 20, found an opportunity to share his love of biking through a Howard County Recreation and Parks video competition. The first of its kind, the ShredIt Action Sports Video Contest challenged entrants to highlight what they liked about the county's park facilities for skateboarding and biking.
The contest brought Griesser to one of his favorite haunts — Rockburn Skills Park in Elkridge, where he set up cameras on tripods and spent 20 hours perfecting a video that shows off the park features as he races and jumps.
The video won the top prize for the biking portion of the contest.
Griesser said he likes Rockburn because he can practice on different terrains and features. He also enjoys long rides at nearby Patapsco Valley State Park.
"I hope [the video] gets more riders interested in going out and helping out with Rockburn Skills Park," he said. "It's nice to have something to learn something new on and something a lot of people haven't seen before."
The county parks department hoped the contest would showcase its parks, a goal contest director Todd Holmes said was achieved.
He got the idea for the competition after seeing skateboarders at North Laurel Skate Park and Centennial Skate Spot with cameras. Holmes said that other than baseball diamonds and team sports areas of the parks, the North Laurel Skate Park gets the most traffic — an "extreme amount."
"There's a nice community of regular users," he said.
The department connected with local businesses for the contest, several of which provided prizes for the winners, including gift cards and merchandise. The contest ran from early June to July 11, and winners were announced this month.
In addition to Griesser, Jason Chapman of Baltimore won the top prize in the skateboarding video category; runner-up in skateboarding was Idris Battou of Silver Spring.
The community determined the winners through a Facebook poll. After parks and recreation narrowed the 15 submissions down to the top five, about 250 community members voted on the winners.
"We wanted to not only promote the parks, but also get the community involved," said Seth Hoffman, marketing coordinator for Howard County Recreation and Parks.
The contest fit perfectly into Griesser's passion — about twice a week he can be found doing jumps and tricks at the skills course. When he's not there, he's studying information systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County — and is president of the school's collegiate cycling club, which competes with other college teams.
Griesser said his favorite part of mountain biking is the constant challenge it presents.
"Just trying to progress and learn as much as I can" keeps him hooked, he said. "When I start getting good at something, I like to push it as far as I can."
Griesser doesn't think about anything else when he's biking — but admits the sport can often occupy his mind when he's not on the trails, especially when he's contemplating a new stunt.
When he completes a trick, it's like "a sense of relief and accomplishment," he said.
Griesser's video is called "Snowball Shredit," after the contest and the icy treat he's been eating all summer. It can be viewed on YouTube, and there are links to all the winning videos at howardcountymd.gov/ShredIt.htm.
Holmes said Griesser had some "nice airs" and his video fit all the contest requirements. The department will host the contest again next year, and Holmes hopes to see something new from Griesser then, he said.
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