For most, skateboarding is about the individual. It allows the skater to express themselves and showcase their talents without the pressure of competition and judgment. It’s an escape from reality and a vessel of creative expression. In some ways it’s more of an art than a sport.
That’s why so many skaters were left with mixed emotions when it was announced that skateboarding will be an official Olympic sport starting in the 2020 summer games in Tokyo.
Skateboard street and park events will be added alongside four other new sports as Tokyo aims for a youth-focused and inspiring Olympic games.
Gary Ream, Tokyo 2020 Skateboarding Commission Chairman and International Skateboarding Federation President is optimistic about skateboarding’s Olympic future.
“I’ve always believed that if skateboarding was properly protected and supported, its appearance on the Olympic stage could change the world,” said Ream. “We’re excited to have that opportunity in Tokyo.”
Thrasher Magazine talked to pro skaters to see what they think about skateboarding in the Olympics. Miles Silvas thinks the Olympics is part of skating’s natural evolution and is all for it.
“Skateboarding being in the Olympics was bound to happen. More and more people are starting to skate and it’s non-stop growing as a sport. Street League is damn near the Olympics of competitive skateboarding right now, so it’s not too big of a leap from where we’re already at. If the Olympics is in your lane I think it’s tight. I wouldn’t turn that shit down if I was asked to be a part of it. I think too much negative energy is being put on it, but it’s not going to affect skaters from doing what we’re already doing. Stay in your lane and let skateboarding grow. I’m with it.”
Jaws also likes the idea, especially for the kids coming into their own.
“I’m down with it. I think that it’s gonna be good for skateboarding in general. The uniforms for sure are gonna be suspect and I don’t know who’s gonna pass the drug test. Maybe if I start doing good in some contests I can go. I’ll be 30 by then and I don’t know if I can keep up with the young kids. What’s that kid who’s dad owns the KTR park? Jagger. Yeah, that kid’s gonna be set up perfect for the Olympics.”
Many skaters though didn’t share Ream and Silvas’ optimism and were concerned the Olympics would change skating into a mainstream spectacle rather than the underground community it currently is.
Real skateboard’s Peter Ramondetta was particularly outspoken about his destain for the idea telling Thrasher “Skateboarding should never be part of the Olympics. Fuck the Olympics.”
John Cardiel put it a little more elegantly.
“To me, skateboarding is all about individuality and originality. It has nothing to do with highest, furthest, longest,” Cardiel said. “Skating being an Olympic sport contradicts everything that I believe skateboarding to be. Skating has always been an intuitive and free path. Go for the gold; follow the yellow-brick road.”
Others were more down the middle, conceding to the idea that it’s not too different from the X Games and Street League competitions currently taking place, but still wary of the Olympics jocking up skate culture.
“I think it’s cool skaters will be able to represent for their countries. But the Olympics will try to turn skateboarding into an organized sport with scoring systems, regulations, coaches, uniforms and drug testing and that’s not what skateboarding is about,” Jack Curtin said.
“Skating in the Olympics? Am I for it? No, I’m not but it’s not going to affect me, nor will it affect core skaters,” Brian Delatorre told Thrasher. “I’m psyched for my homies that are gonna be in there because I’m sure they’re gonna get paid out the frame and be on Wheaties boxes. I’m happy for them but skateboarding is not a sport to me. If I had to vote, I would vote for skateboarding to not be in the Olympics but I understand that they are looking for something cool because Olympic sports aren’t that cool anymore. Bobsledding is dope, though!”
Lance mountain came up with a compromise that I think all skaters would be happy with.
“If King of the Road Japan would be the Olympics event, I think all will be fine.”