Olympic Skateboarding: Skaters Sound Off On Japan 2020 IOC Announcement
With this past week’s announcement that Skateboarding will in fact be included in the 2020 Olympics, everyone has an opinion. Downhill specifically, and many other forms of skating are not included for now. The next opportunity would be 2024 for the inclusion of a race, be it downhill, slalom, push, skatecross or other. So while many debate whether Skateboarding is a sport, should be in the Olympics or not and etc., currently, many styles of wheelie boarding are on the sidelines anyway. That doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to get in there though. The IDF reportedly been involved with other sanctioning bodies and we’re sure, will be making a play for a future Olympic opportunity one way or another.
While it’s nice to think my opinion matters, it doesnt matter much at all. In fact, most of the skaters commenting will likely be at the end of the age opportunity for competing in a 2024 Olympics, should DH be invited to demo.
“According to a study by a team of researchers at the Institute of Biomedical Research and Sports Epidemiologyin France, the peak age or ‘best’ age of performance for athletes in track and field, swimming and even chess is 26.1.” – Huffington Post
Basically, everyone making decisions about skateboarding in the Olympics currently is over 30 and impacting the future for anyone who is only 16 now. So who I really want to hear from is 16 year old skaters… funny thing is, there aren’t very many young riders in competing in DH right now.
Skateboarding is not supposed to be about politics and power plays, but when international exposure and the highest level of corporatization is involved, it’s going to happen like it or not. Ultimately, I believe it’s the ‘selling out’ aspect, not the sport competition, that really has many people’s laces in a knot. Being broke in skateboarding is like a badge of honor. Skaters like to say competition sucks, but most skaters I know just don’t like bullshit. [Note: Seems Marijuana will also not be an overly controlled substance by Anti-doping agencies, so that argument’s kinda out.]
Rather than give you another opinion piece, [Max Dubler already did a great job of it] I asked a number of skaters from around the world what they thought about the Olympics and have shared their comments with you here.
Jimmy Riha – San Diego – Skate[Slate] Magazine Issue 30 – It would be cool to see our sport-side legitimize on massive level with the Olympics. There are always going to be skaters who want to compete. I’m not against it. If it’s going to be a competition in some way, why not the Olympics? People are just scared of who’s takin’ home the bacon and what that “means”. Skaters will still be skaters. Nerds will still be nerds. Jocks will still be jocks. Get over it and either compete or don’t. If I have the opportunity, I will definitely compete… Do all Olympic athletes get paid fat and hooked up? No. But some will. And I think it would be cool to get taken under the wing of the Olympic committee and hopefully have access to more resources to better myself and compete at a higher level. I wouldn’t miss that. Only the largest of brands will be able to work with the Olympics directly anyways and they’re already in street skating. No one will just swoop skateboarding from skaters any more than they already have.
Kevin K-Rimes Reimer – Lurkadurkistan – Skateboarding joining the Olympics is what it is, corporate interest in an activity that will help them further their bottom line. Snowboarding didn’t get hurt by the Olympics as bad as everyone thought. If you’re a serious rider, you took it serious, if you wanted to put out the best freeride part you still did that. Why are people in arms about something that will present skateboarding to the rest of the world in a positive and possibly legitimize what we do to more conservative people and countries? The punk rock part of skateboarding that I enjoy isn’t going anywhere, even if McDonalds slaps their name all over the collective “us” that is skateboarding. Get over it. You didn’t have a say in the decision, and it won’t effect you anyways.
Zak Maytum – Merica – Anyone who is up in arms about skateboarding’s inclusion in the olympics is a fool, an attention whore or both. The exploitation of the sport (yes, sport) by the mainstream has historically only contributed to growth. More skateparks get built, more spots are made legal. Pros get paid more, more ams turn pro, and they in turn push the boundaries farther and invent more tricks for us to never be able to do. In the mean time, the underbelly of skateboarding that the average hesh bro is so concerned about losing also continues to flourish. It’s not like Nyjah winning a gold medal is going to be the end of Halloween at Burnside.
Furthermore, at this point I totally like watching contest skating. (Not Street League, I can’t relate to that because I suck at ollies). Video parts will still always be king to me, but I’m juiced to see a bunch of my favorite skaters converge on a common spot and try to get it done. Polished Xgames contest run pros up against underdogs from the world of “real” skateboarding. Luckily the viewer always wins. Either Pedro Barros clicks off 3 perfect runs, or like last weekend at the Vans Park Series, Chris Russel miraculously lands all of his tricks and smashes the scores of the established contenders like his deck hitting the lip on his overhead high boneless diasaster.
There is no question that skateboarding being in the games will definitely change how some people feel about it. But who cares? If it changes how you feel about it, cool enjoy your personal growth. If if doesn’t change how you feel about it, sweet. Keep enjoying what you like about it. Heavy Metal being on MTV didn’t stop you and your friends from sucking at playing it in the basement. Or having fun doing so. So, get out there, or don’t. Whatever you want.
Adam Persson – Sweden – I don’t think this will change to much honestly. I like that fact that people that want to be in the Olympics and represent their country now have the chance to work towards that or if you’re good enough, do it. People are freaking out for no reason. Maybe this will bring some more attention to downhill. Who knows? I’d like to see someone putting in a bunch of money for a rad downhillevent in the future. I would go. Still with the same attiutude though, race with your homies in the sun or rain, trying to beat eachother down an awesome hill.
Patrick P-Swiss Switzer – Switzerland – In theory battling against the best in the world is a superb opportunity. In reality the ridiculous level of infrastructure built around the Olympics does little for the athletes directly. Of course they have to pay for the whole damn thing some how. And everyone involved needs to be able to eat and sleep somewhere. Unfortunately all the work that goes into the Olympics somebody has to pay for, and this level of waste of resources including national taxation is not something I can gladly support.
Fer Bailleres – Mexico – All I hear is “Skateboarding is now officially a sport”. Half people hating it on it, and half people are very enthusiastic about it. For a country like Mexico, where support is minimum for Skateboarders, sounds like good news for everyone, It opens a new window for all kind of people to get into it, we will be now able to get those opportunities we ever wanted for new Skateparks, Events and even Government Programs like in Brasil. Just because is now officially considered a Sport, you are not loitering with your board anymore on the streets, you’re training for the Olympics, right?
Skateboarding is whatever mean you wanna give to it, and will stay that way, some of us enjoy watching all kind of Skate, from some Street League Action, Pool Contests to Live Feeds on Facebook for some Downhill Race, competition might be not for everyone, but I’m sure I will enjoy watching from here and hopefully some good people get a chance to live their dreams.
Emily Pross – USA – Personally I’m for skateboarding being in the olympics. However, I feel the long distance push and downhill racing aspects of skateboarding are more Olympic worthy than street league and vert because judging can be biased. With long distance push and downhill you have a distinctive winner without judging biases.
Byron Essert – USA – It will allow skateboarders to be seen in a different light than they usually are, and more people may begin to recognize skateboarders as athletes rather than scumbags. I do not believe all skateboarders are strictly athletes or scumbags, most of us just wanna have fun, and Olympics could possibly allow us to have more fun by having the cops called on us less often because of how the public views us.
Jackson “Jacko” Shapiera – Australia – To be honest I don’t know why people would be upset about it, it’s a pretty big step forward. I would like to see downhill skateboarding as an Olympic sport one day, I might not be a competitor in it maybe even, but either way it’s more promotion for our sport. It’s something that happens every 4 years, and yes I agree that the monopoly on the Olympic Games itself is pretty ridiculous it is still something that all sorts of athletes can work hard for and achieve great things. Too much negativity floating around these days, if u don’t like it don’t be involved! But don’t try ruin it for those who really care and want to make something of it. That’s my personal opinion.
Camilo Cespedes – Colombia – Honestly I have a neutral stand on it. There’s so many factors to take under consideration. It may be a good thing as well as it could be a bad one. So.. Yeah hahahah.. Dont think that’s of any help hahaha.. cool beans!
James Kelly – American Dream – I’m hyped skatbording is getting seen by more people, ultimately getting more people to skate. I’m probably not gonna watch it though.
Cindy Zhou – Canada – I’ve always been a big proponent of getting as many new people to experience the joys of skating as possible. So with the announcement of skateboarding as an Olympic sport in 2020, I was actually excited about all the opportunities skateboarding had to grow. I think the Olympics give women especially, a whole new level of global exposure and equality within skateboarding that they’ve never had. I can’t wait to see whole new generations of girls watching female skateboarders on the biggest stage in sports and think ‘I want to skateboard too’. The Olympics aren’t only going to make skateboarding more accessible through media, but also through the building of more skate infrastructure, and increased participation in countries that might have previously seen skateboarding as a culturally stigmatized sport.
As for those who think skateboarding is ‘losing its soul’ or ‘selling out’ by joining the Olympic, I’d like to think that skateboarding has already been mainstream for years. Skaters who have wanted the sport commercialized have already done so through major competitions like Street League and sponsorships like Nike or Adidas. Those who want to stay ‘core’ or true to street skating can continue to do so regardless of whether skateboarding in the Olympics exists or not.
Justin Rolo – The Trap – Honestly I don’t really give a shit, and I don’t think it’s hurting skateboarding’s ‘core’ feel, ‘edginess’, or whatever you think it’s about. If anything, it’s going to get more random kids into the sport as a whole, and I’ll get to watch some of my favorite riders send it in front of the whole world while having a ‘Game day’ party in my living room.
Rachel Bagels Bruskoff – Earth – I think it’s rad that skating is becoming a part of the Olympics. It will be great to have more media and exposure, and therefore create more stoke and more numbers in the community. It’s a bit meh as well because it will become very serious, as with any competition. But it will up the game and so many competitors will try to innovate and do things that have never been done before and that will be sick to witness.
Max Capps – California – I’m a little surprised by people being anything but stoked for this. I thought we all started skating because it was fun and we didn’t care what other people were doing or what was rad, you are on your own wavelength. That said I am mega hyped for this. If the olympics have any chance of adding DH and slalom in the future you better bet I won’t think twice about making the lifestyle changes and putting in the time to make it so I could compete. I would love nothing more than to represent California on the highest platform. My whole life has always been racing so it’s not a big deal to me for skating to be perceived in this way. I don’t think all forms of skating are a good fit but the world has never let a small group define all, unless you are mainstream media but that’s another topic. I think most are angry it’s going to change the reason people get into it, but who cares. More people in, easier access to live events and possible cash influx is good no matter the reason. There will always be people that make things a competition or take it serious, Olympics or not. It’s exciting to think there will be teams representing different areas and what it will take to be on the teams, who will be on the teams. Skating isn’t a team sport but there are teams, they are families, groups of like minded people who click a certain way and push each other to the next level. That’s really exciting to me.
Max Ballesteros – Brazil – I believe its a good thing that skateboarding has joined the Olympics, this is a major step for skating to be more acceptable in many places and for the sport to grow as a whole.
Riley Harris – Who the hell is he? – I honestly think it’s about damn time! Snowboarding has been a quintessential part of the winter games for years, so I’m looking forward to the new and exciting things skateboarding will bring to the table in Summer 2020. It’s definitely a step in the right direction for downhill skating at the Olympic Games, which would bring high intensity and exposure for downhill athletes, with the entire world watching. Imagine bringing home gold in Downhill Skateboarding at the 2024 games!
Axel Serrat – Spain – I just think it is going to be funny to see how they going to figure out that, how the rules are going to be, the judgment, everything… In my opinion skateboarding is not a sport, and I definitely don’t consider my self an athlete. But I understand theres other people that take it more serious, so that is going to be good for them. There is always going to be people that wants to take it into a competition mode and others that don’t, I don’t care, in any case we have to enjoy it. I just hope that it doesn’t grow in a bad way like soccer were the FIFA is totaly corrupt and they have more power and money than most of people expect. COI [IOC] has also been corrupted and we all know nowadays eveything is about money. But theres allways going to be people that trully loves whatever they have passion for and the money won’t matter.
Alicia Fillback – Oregon – I support the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics. I have mixed feelings about the necessity of subjective judgement in determining scores, but we already suffer such criteria with events like gymnastics and snowboarding, so skateboarding may as well take its place in the mix. If nothing else, it will justify the athleticism and endeavors of its participants to the average civilian who may not think much of skateboarding as a productive activity. To those skateboarders out there who don’t think themselves athletes, or don’t think of skating as a sport – sorry, but you are, and it is.
Greg Noble – Team No Bull – As a kid growing up skiing & racing in Vermont I dreamed about one day competing in the Olympics. In hindsight that was not obtainable but the dream pushed me. I saw guys and girls that I skied with that were 5-10 years older than me racing for the U.S. and it fueled my dream. Anything which has the opportunity to get more of the youth involved in skateboarding and inspire them I’m all for. I do understand the perspective of those which are upset by skateboardings inclusion but from my point of view it really won’t change the sport, it will merely grow it. Bringing skateboarding to a wider audience will hopefully impact Longboarding as well. I would love to see downhill longboarding in the olympics! Of course only if they had a masters division! I am all for inclusivity and acceptance of the sport we love no matter what that looks like.
Aaron A-$Swag Hampshire – Colorado – I think it’s pretty cool that skateboarding is world wide enough to even be considered for the Olympics. Hopefully we see even more skateboarders because of this.
Ryka Mohammadian – Kookderpistan – To me skateboarding has always been more of a lifestyle, and when you take skateboarding and put it in the Olympics it takes away the whole lifestyle aspect.
Joe Lehm – New Mexico – For sure! First of all, Max did an excellent job in his article that you just posted. This in NO WAY endangers skateboarding as we have come to know it. It will always at it’s core be an individual expression of one’s own style and sense of freedom. As Stacy Peralta famously pointed out “Skateboarding will always take place where it was never intended to.” I’ll take this a step further and include the Olympics, where it was never intended to be as well. While Street and Vert will be the first 2 disciplines to be included, Racing and Freestyle will also be under consideration for 2024. One of the biggest challenges will be establishing a format and protocol for holding regional events that qualify riders to attend the national events that then lead to the Olympic Trials. Nothing like this exists in skateboarding because it has tried so hard to NOT be a sport. The nature of this format means that these events will not be invitationals, instead they will be open to anyone that wants to give it a shot, much like how Racing already is run with qualifying, bracketing and heats. For this reason many feel that Racing should have been included first, but since there will be no revenue sharing from the Olympics to start with, it will be the mainstream skate industry that will help provide the funding to make it happen first time around. There is also no guarantee that there will be a second time so the better job they do as a “demonstration” sport the more likely that it will be included in 2024. It is still being hashed out as to who will be the National Governing Body and the people that see this as an opportunity to make money are already filing lawsuits against each other. Hang on, it’s going to be a very bumpy ride!
Team Mids – Inside You – We look forward to partying with Michael Phelps #SeeYouIn2020 #sportsmanship #bringhomethebronze
That’s it for now. We’ll be keeping tabs on the future of Olympic Skateboarding and sharing any of the wins and fails with you here on Skate[Slate]. Thanks for reading!