Without lack of anticipation, Tokyo 2020 has come and gone. Albeit in 2021, skateboarders from each continent came together in Japan for the first ever Olympic games including Skateboarding as a recognized sport. Skateboarders in all parts of the world tuned in to the see the inaugural phenomenon. But also people who don’t skate, tens of millions of them, tuned in to the action.
As history tells, Brazil and Japan gathered the majority of the medals, with some also taken by Australia, Britain and the United States. No one quite knew what to expect, but the biggest surprise of the games was the age of its individual winners. The Women’s Park podium averaged only 13 years of age! And regardless of age or gender, the skateboarders all came together with some of the notedly best sportsmanship the Olympics has seen. There was a lot to be proud of at Tokyo 2020.
Now that Tokyo has passed, we can look forward to Paris 2024. The Olympic qualifying process has once again begun, and the slate has been wiped clean in anticipation of Skateboarding’s participation in our next Summer Olympics. The first official qualifier took place in Rome, Italy on the weekend of July 4th, and what a gift to the American skateboarding community to have American competitor Nyjah Huston win 1st Place.
The competition was fierce, but in the end the action really came down to two skateboarders: Aurélien Giraud (FRA) and Nyjah Huston (USA). In the finals of these substantial qualifiers, Aurélien started off with a solid run and one-upped himself with an improved version of the same run. The intensity and difficulty of his skating was tough to match, but Nyjah came back from a mediocre first run to put down a high score for the Run section. The competition was already neck-and-neck.
Entering the Best Trick portion of the finals, Nyjah had a slight advantage. But Huston and Giraud are both explosive skaters that have the ability to blow the doors off the contest with each and every individual try. Aurélien opened up the section with a perfect hardflip backside 180 (the hard way) over the big hubba, and Nyjah did not answer with a landed trick. On his third attempt Aurélien tried a 360 flip nosegrind and by chance landed a 360 flip nosebluntslide [a much more difficult trick]. On his fourth attempt Nyjah answered with a fakie flip nosegrind (coming in backside/blindside), putting the heat right back on Aurélien.
During last attempts, with all pressure on, Nyjah nails a switch heelflip crooked grind on the big hubba. An absolutely mind-blowing trick to be able to do, much less first-try on the last regulated attempt in the contest. The crowd goes wild for it. And finally, Aurélien drops in to jump over the hubba once more. He pops his tail, forming a hardflip, and from that hardflip pulls off a late front foot kickflip before meeting with his board at the landing. A CLEAN hardflip late flip would surely take the lead! But… as the audience waited on the scores… it actually did not. Aurélien earned the figurative silver medal while Nyjah left with gold.
After a very long weekend showcasing the best competition skateboarders in the world, France qualifies second to the USA. But the season is young, the rest of the 2024 Olympic qualifiers have yet to happen, and anything could happen. Stay Tuned for more action and updates from the Olympic Skateboarding front.