Island freereunner Nate Weston warms up before his turn at Freerun Hefei City in China earlier this month. He took second place in the parkour style competition there and is heading to Greece for Red Bull’s Art of Motion parkour and freerunning competition in two weeks. (Nate Weston Instagram screenshot)

Islander heading to Red Bull Art of Motion competition for second time

At 20 years old, islander Nate Weston is already a sponsored parkour and freerunning athlete who has traveled to Greece and China for competitions, and will soon add Sweden to the list.

Last week, he returned from Freerun Hefei City in China, where he took second in the parkour style competition and sixth in the speed competition out of a pool of 24 competitors. The experience, which was an all-expenses paid trip by the event’s organizers, started with a Facebook message inviting him to compete.

“I just got hit up on Facebook, and it’s interesting because people see social media and just think nothing of it, but for me it’s like a portfolio,” he said. “That was a free trip to China and $3,000 in prize money. It’s crazy how it happened.”

Weston was one of four Americans competing in Hefei. He was joined by Portland, Oregon’s Joey Adrian and Los Angeles, California’s Corbin Reinhardt, Cory DeMeyers and Sydney Olson, who are not only fellow athletes, but good friends of Weston’s.

“These events are almost like family reunions,” he said. “It was a really good experience. I couldn’t imagine what I could experience in a week.”

He hopes to be invited back to the event in coming years.

His showing in Hefei came on the heels of a second-place finish at the 2017 North American Parkour Championship earlier this year. That competition, which was held in Vancouver, Canada, marked the beginning of Weston’s 2017 competition season.

“It started out on a good note,” he said of the competitions so far this year.

Weston will soon head to Greece for Red Bull’s Art of Motion invitational where he placed sixth last year in the finals, which automatically puts him back into the competition pool this year. And while last year he had to pay his way and earn a spot as a walk-on, this year, Red Bull has him covered.

“Where I am right now is where a lot of people training try to be and where I’ve been trying to be for the last five years,” he said.

But this year hasn’t always been so good. After last year’s Art of Motion competition, Weston’s body fell apart, he said in a Monday interview.

“My body went downhill pretty hard, and all winter I was rehabbing. I had knee and back problems that caught up to me,” he said. “Last winter was pretty difficult mentally.”

He said not being able to train was tough, especially with the knowledge that he would be returning to Greece, but he recovered and is “in a much better mental state now.”

“Even though it was tough, it was an experience I needed to go through,” he said.

And he is continuing to look forward. Following the Art of Motion competition on Oct. 7, Weston will head to Sweden for the Air Wipp Challenge on a trip paid for by his sponsors — Norml Brand and Team JiYo. Then he’s off to England to visit friends and continue training.

“I don’t want this feeling of travelling to end. I want to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “It’s surreal, that’s the only way to describe it. I’m nowhere near the end of my rope. I still want to train and have so many places to see.”

Between competitions overseas, he lives on the island and works at a gym called Parkour Visions in Queen Anne. He has also recently done some motion capture work for a company developing video games, something he wants to continue.

“Even if the whole competition thing goes away, I want to move toward stunt jobs and motion capture for video games and branch out to other fields related to what I do,” he explained. “Movies are CGI now, and they just need people to be in suits. That’s the future, and it’s here already.”

Watch the Red Bull Art of Motion competition

The cliffside homes of Oia on the island of Santorini, Greece will serve as a playground for the world’s most elite freerunners on Saturday, Oct. 7.

The finals will be streamed at 6 a.m. local time here.