Skateboarding in the Olympics

The *not so* Stunning Rise of the Sport

It’s official — skateboarding will make its first-ever appearance at the Olympics, at the 2020 2021 games in Tokyo, Japan. The news sent waves through the skating world, with a range of opinions from the excited to the skeptical.

Whatever your opinion on this, whether you’re psyched or pissed, being included in the Olympics is definitely a sign that skateboarding is no longer just an underground group of outcasts. It’s now an accepted and respected sport that deserves a position on the world stage.

How We Got Here

So how did skateboarding go from a set of wheels attached to a plank of wood to the biggest sporting event on the planet?

Skateboarding started as an evolution of surfing when surfers decided they wanted to enjoy the experience of gliding through space while on land. They put wheels on wooden boards and rode barefoot around the piers and sidewalks of the west coast.

Soon, creative skaters started doing more than just gliding. They started to jump, slide, flip, and fly. Skateboard design evolved to include the black grip and curved ends, and skateboarding legends started taking over as they pushed the sport forward. They made insane new tricks, released skate videos, and inspired legions of followers. Some of those followers became legends themselves.

Team U.S.A.’s Olympic Skateboarding hopefuls. Photo credit: USA Skateboarding

Eventually, skateboarders and skating fans started looking for ways to get together and compete. Skateboarding competitions were born, and soon the granddaddy of them all emerged—the X-Games, which quickly became known as the Olympics of extreme sports.

Now, skateboarding has reached the peak of sport as it has been included on the roster of the 2020 Olympics.

Skateboarding in the Olympics

The Olympics in 2020 will feature four total medal events — men’s park skating, women’s park skating, men’s street skating, and women’s street skating. The Olympic committee has allowed for 80 total spots for skaters — 20 for each event. Each country can offer a max of 12 skaters (no more than six men and six women) to compete for spots, but no more than three per event.

The events will be held at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo.

Pros and Cons

Depending on your attitude, skateboarding in the Olympics could be great news or a bittersweet thing. On one hand, it seems a far cry from skateboarding’s underground, rebel roots. On the other, it means that skateboarding athletes are finally getting the global respect they deserve.

Meanwhile, one small detail has skateboard purists feeling optimistic. Apparently, in-between events, the official skate facility for the games will be open to the public. At least in one way, skateboarding at the highest level is still made for the masses. And what could be better for a young kid who loves skating to say—”I got this scar at the Olympic skate park.”