Dust off your lycra suits – skateboarding and surfing are Olympic sports.
The inclusion of skateboarding and surfing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has been almost a certainty for a number of months, and the IOC made history earlier this morning by unanimously voting in favour of the sports' admittance – thus finally making things official. Cue protests and celebrations.
There's probably never been a more polarising subject in the history of either sport, and the next four years might prove to be as entertaining as the event itself. Each sport will feature women's and men's events, with skateboarding split into 'park' and 'street' disciplines... and the official Tokyo 2020 website has some interesting points to make about each.
From the official site:
In the skateboarding competitions, there will be two disciplines: park and street. For the park competition, a course called a "combination pool," which contains bowls and pools in a complex combination with ramps and course bends, will be used. For the street competition, a street-like course with stairs, curbs, slopes and rails will be used. In both disciplines, skaters will be scored based on the degree of difficulty, consistency in completing tricks, the overall routine, speed, and originality.
We're glad that's been cleared up. But this is the best part....
In the park competition, tricks such as high-speed sailing through the air and somersault dismounts like in gymnastics are attractions; in the street competition, tricks in which it is difficult for skaters to keep their balance, such as a skater jumping off the skateboard while rotating it intricately and jumping on it again, are considered challenging tricks. "Cool" is frequently used when praising skaters. Cool skaters who perform difficult tricks while staying calm can be potential winners.
There you go – the IOC has just officially defined what it means to be a "cool skater". This is already incredible.
While surfing has a properly sanctioned world tour, the WSL, skateboarding is still without an official governing body for competitive events. The International Federation of Skateboarding (ISF) is likely to claim control over competitive skateboarding, but not without a fight from their rivals, the World Skateboarding Federation (WSF). It honestly sounds like the plot from a screwball comedy involving two evil arch-nemesis organisations, and there's bound to be some entertaining head-to-head moments in the lead up to 2020.
For surfing, the obvious question revolves around where they'll actually, you know, surf. Tokyo isn't exactly known for its pumping waves, and if surfing remains a sport for future non-surf-friendly locations, artificial waves must surely be the answer. But is that really surfing? While artificial wave technology has come along in leaps and bounds lately, purists will argue that controlled conditions don't represent the sport. The same could be said about skateboarding's 'street' event, which isn't exactly being held in the crusty back alleys of downtown Tokyo.
There's also drug testing... but that's a whole other kettle of sushi. In the meantime, let's revel at the idea of Nyjah's impending appearance on the front of a Cheerio's box. We're in for a wild ride. What do you think?
Steve Caballero's level-headed response to the matter is perhaps the most sensible outlook. On Instagram, here wrote:
"Haters are gonna hate, posers are gonna pose, skaters are gonna skate ... No matter how ya look at it, nothing will change about skateboarding except giving it opportunities to grow. I'm excited about this and I'm proud that it's come this far, super stoked for those who get to qualify for this event in Tokyo, Japan 2020."
At the end of the day, people thought the X-Games and Street League would spell the end of skateboarding as we knew it, and while they've definitely had an impact, it hasn't changed the way most people skate with their friends in the parks and streets. The same has been said about world tour surfing events. Who knows what impact the Olympics will have, but skateboarding will always be skateboarding, and surfing will always be surfing. A two-week event every four years doesn't change that. Let's enjoy it.
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