Skateboarding shreds its way into Olympics in 2021


The 2020 USA skateboarding National Team was set to compete in Tokyo but will have to wait until 2021.

Sean DiNicola '22, Staff Reporter

There is no doubt that skateboarding is one of the biggest trends with young people today. It has been gaining more and more popularity over the last decade, especially these last few years, and according to Statista, skateboarding is now the third most popular sport among teenagers, coming in behind football and basketball. 

Skateboarding is popular all over the world, with competitions like X-Games and Tampa Pro, raging year-round. While many favorite sports can be found as Olympic events, why has skateboarding been overlooked? 

According to Mikel Villamayor ‘22, it was all about perception. “It was probably not seen as a sport that should’ve been in the Olympics until it became one,” he said.

Historically, skateboarding was a sport for self-driven individuals who measure success, not from a trophy, but by obtaining goals you set for yourself. While skateboarding is a sport requiring a lot of skill and agility, it was not taken very seriously and skateboarders were okay with that. Now that skateboarding will be part of the Olympics, what effect will it have on the culture? 

According to Murillo Olivera ‘22, it will expand on the culture of skateboarding. 

“Having skateboarding in the Olympics will change the way people see it and people will take it more seriously,” he said.

Most skateboarders would agree that it is an independent sport and more of a way of expressing themselves rather than a standard sport like football or basketball, which are more competitive. Most skateboarders get into the sport for the love of it rather than to win a trophy or tournament. It is also more supportive and creative than other sports with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk saying, “You go to a skate park and see a kid trying something and suddenly all the other skaters rally around him and encourage him. It is a collective effort for everyone to get better. The community embraces you.”

Now that skateboarding is an Olympic Sport, the USA governing body, called USA Skateboarding, is responsible for selecting and training national teams for the Olympic games and world championships. As of right now, anyone above the age of 16 years old can participate in the olympics. 

On March 19, USA Skateboarding announced during a media event at the CA Training Facility in Vista, California, that 16 skateboarders (eight women and eight men) were chosen to represent the USA in the Olympics. 

In the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, which is now postponed to August 2021 due to the COVID-19 virus, participants will demonstrate their skill in two types of skateboarding competitions: street and park skating. There will be one competitor riding in the course at a time and they get three timed runs to get their best score. 

Street skating competitions will consist of flat ground with handrails, stairs, benches, ramps, and walls to recreate a street-like setting. In this kind of skateboarding, competitors will grind on rails and benches, launch themselves off of ramps, and do crazy tricks on flat ground. Park competitions will consist of a large bowl course. In it, competitors will do complex tricks in and out of the bowl, grind on the edges, and launch themselves up and come back in. They get the kind of freedom they get at their local skateparks to do whatever they want to try and impress the judges but like all other Olympic events, judges will be looking for perfection in the skaters’ execution. 

The competitors will be judged on difficulty, speed, style, originality, and trick selection. They will be judged on an overall impression, for example, if a competitor landed all of their difficult and crazy tricks in a run, they would most likely get close to a perfect score. One important factor judges will look for, however, is how long someone can stay in the air.

Overall, skateboarding, over the last decade, has grown its way into the mainstream and the Olympic committee has recognized it for its athleticism and technical skill required. Some skateboarders feel that this is a good decision because it is considered as a way of expressing themselves and not a competitive sport. According to Tony Hawk in a CNN article, skateboarding is doing more for the Olympics than the Olympics are doing for the sport. “The Olympics needs skateboarding more than skateboarding needs the Olympics. They need the cool factor.” Hawk said. 

“The viewership is not getting any younger and it feels a bit stagnant. They need this to get the excitement level that we have at skateboard events. I don’t think we need their validation because we’re already validated. And I mean really, how many more swimming events can you watch?”

Jadan Kelley ‘22 also thought this was a good idea, saying, “I think it’s good because it gives skateboarding more exposure and it helps the reputation.” 

Whether or not skateboarders want help with their reputation is debatable, but with the games postponed until 2021, spectators are in for an amazing display.