Listen, before you start yelling at me for not understanding that “skateboarding’s an art, not a sport, man,” I get it, and I’m not here to argue that skateboarding should be an Olympic sport, in fact, I’m strongly against the idea.
But, unfortunately, such a stance is futile because it’s an argument that it seems we’ve already lost. Rumors are swirling that skateboarding has been shortlisted for inclusion into the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and everyone from Chris Cole to Tony Hawk has gone on the record in support of an Olympic version of skateboarding.
Of course, there are still some questions to consider when thinking about including skateboarding in the Games. (Is marijuana a “performance enhancing drug”? And if it is, how will they get enough sober competitors to enter?) But the biggest question has to do with what form the amorphous activity of skateboarding will take once it’s translated into a sport.
My only hope as a skateboarder is that whatever version gets sandwiched in between synchronized swimming and racewalking looks as little as possible like the silly thing I’ve been doing with my friends on curb cuts and parking blocks since I was 10. The further removed Olympic Skateboarding is from actual, normal skateboarding, the better chance our insular culture has of surviving the inevitable dilution into the mainstream.
With that reasoning in mind, here’s four skateboarding events I’m willing to let the kooks at the Olympics have…
1. DOWNHILL / SLALOM
Going fast while doing skateboard tricks is cool, just watch any Busenitz clip for proof, but once going fast becomes the trick, all coolness evaporates faster than a drop of sweat on a hot black leather jumpsuit. Downhill skateboarding has everything the Olympics could ever want from a sport: it’s easy to judge since it’s based on time and not style, it promises high-speeds and high-speed wipeouts, and its athletes wear tight, form-fitting, ridiculous outfits. What more could producers ask for?
The same reasoning for including downhill in the Olympics works for the inclusion of slalom too. While it’s fun to weave between cones while you’re skating down the street, the setting up of cones for the purpose of slaloming has kookery written all over it. Plus, have you seen the footage of the Candian guy who holds the world-record for skateboard slalom? Dude deserves a gold medal for the comedic value of his technique/hair style alone.
The Megaramp is so gnarly that it broke the femur of the guy who pretty much invented gnarly skateboarding. It’s so gnarly that I don’t even think it can rightly be called skateboarding – it’s stuntboarding to the extreme, and would rightly draw a huge audience waiting to see kids doing 1080’s and people falling so hard their shoes fly off.
As a skater who has never rolled in on a ramp taller than two Mitchie Bruscos, I’d be perfectly fine with giving this kind of stunt-skating away. Any activity that has its participants training as hard as Danny Way and his mega-mace is not made for everyday humans like you and me. No, this is a sport best left to Olympian gods.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but flatground skating has been totally taken over by circus tricks as of late, so we might as well turn this three-ring carnival of flippery into a five-ringed one by making S.K.A.T.E. into an Olympic event. You know, really give the groms a chance to make it from the flat-bottom of their local miniramp to the top pedestal of athletics.
And with the Olympics’s cutting-edge technology, questionable toe-drags will be a thing of the past since competitors will be wearing uber-sensitive sensors on the tips of their shoes for ultimate accuracy. But, unfortunately for Brazilians, highly popped tricks count just the same as ground spinners. Sorry Luan!
4. HALF PIPE
As a kid who grew up watching good (Bob Burnquist) battle evil (Tony Hawk) in the X-Games vert walls of yore, I hate to give the half pipe to the Olympics, but marketing trumps nostalgia, and the prospect of America’s favorite ginger, Shawn White, (pictured above) being just the fifth athlete to win gold in both the Summer and Winter Games would make for great publicity and a very clickable headline on buzzshit.com/sports.
But, instead of the improvisational masterworks of Vov, picture a vert skater’s run as if it’s a gymnast’s floor routine, highly regimented and strategically planned for maximum points. Judges have a list of the skaters’s proposed runs and judge them accordingly on their difficulty and execution. Did the young Belgian competitor do a stalefish instead of a stinkbug like he said he was going to do? Dock him half a point. Olympic Skateboring is about preparation and precision, not none of that free-wheeling soul skater shit.
Illustrations: Walker Miller, see more of his work on his website (gnarfiction.com)
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