Last week we saw skateboarding making its Olympic debut. Originally announced in 2016, skating’s inclusion has been the subject of 5 years’ worth of anticipation and debate.
Whether or not you personally believe skateboarding should be featured in the Olympics, or even be considered a sport, it is undoubtedly a pivotal moment. Skateboarding’s acceptance into the mainstream world of sport gives those involved the chance to show everyone what it’s all about, and the Women’s Street* event did just that.
*despite the namesake of the event, not all competitors identify as female.
Unlike a lot of other Olympic sports, there was a sense that the competitors weren’t just representing their country, but representing skating itself. Hyping each other up and celebrating successes, part of what made the Street event fun to watch was the interactions almost any skater can relate to.
Margielyn Didal brought her infectious energy and sense of humour, even while skating on an increasingly fragile ankle due to an injury early in the competition. Roos Zwetsloot gave us two stoke worthy runs, making back tails look easy; while Alexis Sablone laid down a textbook kickflip front board with bags of style. It was also great to see Alana Smith in the mix, representing gender diversity in skateboarding and raising questions about the rigidity and relevance of ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ categories in sporting contests.
As with any contest, anything can happen. With Candy Jacobs pulling out due to covid, and big names Pamela Rosa, Mariah Duran, and Leticia Bufoni missing out on the finals, a lot of predictions were turned on their heads. This left a predominantly young field of skaters, with all teenagers taking the podium. Momiji Nishiya and Funa Nakayama took Gold and Bronze for Japan respectively, while Brazil’s Rayssa Leal became the youngest Olympic medallist in 85 years in the Silver spot.
Overall I don’t think we could have asked for a much better representation of skating on a global level. Not only did the competitors come out and kill it, they were clearly having a good time while showcasing a skill level easily capable of defying anyone who might pull the dreaded “girls cant skate” line. Here’s hoping that now skating has been aired in the games more people of underrepresented genders will be inspired to pick up a board.
If you didn’t get a chance to catch it, or just fancy watching again, you can find the results and highlights below: