clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Skateboarding made its Olympic debut

The competition, the (young) winners and everything you need to know about the Summer Olympic Games’ newest sport

Axel Cruysberghs trains during a street skateboarding practice session at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Axel Cruysberghs, of Belgium, trains during a street skateboarding practice session at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Gregory Bull, Associated Press

Skateboarding has come rolling onto the Olympic scene in Tokyo. The sport is making its Olympic debut, showcasing young talent and attracting a younger audience, reported The New York Times.

  • The men’s and women’s street competitions took place Sunday and Monday, respectively, per CBS News. Japan won gold medals in both competitions.
  • The park skateboard competitions will debut next week, per The New York Times.
  • The Olympic skateboarders range in age from 12 to 47 and will show off high-flying tricks and impressive stunts — along with some painful-looking falls, per CNet.

The explosion of skateboarding’s popularity has been helped by the inspiring and endearing teenage girls leading the sport, capturing hearts and inspiring others, reported NPR.

How does competitive skateboarding work?

Skateboarding has two different types of competition, per CNet. Both competitions score skateboarders based on the difficulty and originality of their tricks.

  • Street skateboarding takes place on a course designed to mimic an urban street, per CNet. The course has stairs, ramps and rails for riders to put together into a series of tricks.
  • Park skateboarding takes place on a bowl-like course, reminiscent of a swimming pool. The bowl has drops and asymmetrical contours for riders to use for momentum and stunts, per The New York Times.

Both types of competition are making their Olympic debut in Tokyo, reported CNet.

How did skateboarding end up in the Olympics?

Skateboarding — which started on the streets of Southern California and in niche competitions — has exploded in popularity over recent years. Major events like the X-Games and major skateboarding stars like Tony Hawk have contributed to the sport’s growth, reported The New York Times.

  • Women’s skateboarding has lagged behind the men’s competition for funding, acceptance and attention, per The New York Times.
  • The women’s street competition at the Tokyo Olympics — and the young female Olympians who came to dominate — hope to inspire others to take up skateboarding, per NPR.
  • “I want to be able to inspire girls,” said Britain’s Sky Brown in an interview in May, per The New York Times. “Because I feel like people from all around the world are watching the Olympics, and that’s a good place to inspire people.”

Skateboarding is one of four sports making its Olympic debut in Tokyo. Sport climbing, surfing and karate are also new sports at this year’s Games, reported CNet.

Who’s winning the skateboarding events?

In both street competitions, Japan has taken gold. Yuto Horigome brought home gold in the men’s event on Sunday, per CBS News.

Monday in the women’s street event, half of the eight finalists were 16 years old or younger, reported The New York Times. At the end of the competition, three teenagers stood on the podium to receive their medals.

All three girls hope to inspire more female skateboarders, reported The New York Times. Older female skaters who paved the way for the girls on the podium also took pride in the teenagers’ achievements.

  • “I think skateboarding is for everyone,” Leal said, per CBS News.
  • “I’ve seen skateboarding through so many phases,” said Alexis Sablone, Team USA’s 34-year-old skater who placed fourth, per The New York Times, “and this is a historic moment.”

The park skateboarding competitions will take place next week, per The New York Times.