Sophomore thrives at competitive Onewheeling

If there is a wheel, there’s a way.

Onewheel riding is “freeing,” giving riders a hands-free and pedal-free rush of adrenaline — and the chance to compete in an up-and-coming sport. Sophomore strategic communication major Jessica Yun-Washington has been competing in Onewheel competitions since March.

Onewheel from Future Motion, Inc. is a single-wheel, motorized board controlled by motion sensors that move the wheel in the direction that the user leans, making small adjustments to balance the pitch and yaw of the device.

“It can get you from point A to point B super-fast and super-easy. You’re not limited,” Yun-Washington said.

Proponents of the Onewheel claim that the recent popularity of the device lies in its convenience during the pandemic as well as the stylistic choices and accompanying app. Within the growing community, the Onewheel Racing League formed, as well as underground circuits.

“The underground circuit is the race I primarily focus on this year. There were 10 different trails that we raced,” Yun-Washington said.

After training with her husband, she took on the trail races in May and placed fifth out of all women in the state, even going against one of the fastest female Onewheelers in the world, Mercedes Silva.

“She [Silva] wasn’t trying to take my times, but I was trying to take hers,” Yun-Washington said.

She prefers Onewheel to other forms of “board sports” such as skateboarding, snowboarding or skiing. “Onewheeling is more readily available, [and] it’s year-round,” Yun-Washington said.

Jessica Yun-Washinton riding a Onewheel by Dwire Hall. Photo by Meghan Germain.

Yun-Washington first got into the sport through her husband, who is naturally active and took on competitive Onewheeling three years ago.

“It looked like he was always having a lot of fun with it. Then we went on a ride trail, and I was like, okay, I like trail riding,” she said.

She enjoys riding her Onewheel XR on dirt trails rather than on the street. Her favorite casual trail is The Pineries in Black Forest, which is an 8.6-mile looped trail.

“I’ve gotten up to 22 miles per hour. This [Onewheel] will go 12-18 miles on one charge,” Yun-Washington said. “So, as a racer, that is what you kind of try to do, [I] try to push that speed.”

In the future, Yun-Washington plans to continue racing and wants to compete in the Onewheel Racing League. In the meantime, she is advocating for more female participation in the Colorado underground circuit.

“I only had a couple females that were racing with me. I’d like to have more competition, but then also just having solidarity out there,” Yun-Washington said.

She and her husband are parents to three children, aged 4, 2 and 1. The couple moved from Arkansas to Colorado Springs in 2015. After starting a family, Yun-Washington began school to become an event planner.