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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
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Olympic surfing and skateboarding 101


Get educated on the newest additions to the Summer Games

The Summer Olympics are returning this July in Tokyo, Japan. They’ll feature the usual favorite events: beach volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, etc; but they’ll be joined by a handful of newcomers. There are six new events being added: surfing, skateboarding, karate, baseball, softball and “sport climbing” (rock climbing). In this column, I’ll be providing a primer on skating and surfing in the 2020 Olympics.

Among the surf and skate communities, fans and athletes alike are conflicted about the sports being added to the Olympics. It’s good that the athletes and the sports will be gaining international recognition, but the uniformity of the Olympics completely diminishes individuality, which is integral to both skating and surfing. Still, it’s high time these sports receive mainstream recognition.

Here’s what you need to know about skating: 80 athletes will be competing, 40 men and 40 women, with 20 men and 20 women skating in the two categories, park and street, and events will take place at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo.

The skateboarding athletes haven’t been determined yet, but they’ll be qualifying based on World Skate, the international administration for roller sports, rankings this spring. Both the park and street portions of the competitions will be comprised of four heats of five skaters each and will continue with smaller heats as athletes progress through them.

For park skating, each athlete will use the best score of three 45 second runs within a swimming pool-like cavity, where they can perform tricks and receive scores on them. The street skating course will be set up with stairs, handrails, benches, walls and slopes for athletes to perform tricks on. Skaters will get two 45 second runs and perform five tricks.


The teams haven’t been decided yet, but there are several skaters who are considered shoe-ins for their national teams (and no, unfortunately Tony Hawk will not be participating). Nyjah Huston, the highest paid skater in the world, will likely be representing the U.S. in the street skating event, as well as Louie Lopez, Zion Wright, Lacey Baker, Jenn Soto and Alexis Sablone. For park skating, it’s expected that Tom Schaar, Alex Sorgente, Nicole Hause, Jordyn Barratt and Bryce Wettstein will be skateboarding to represent the U.S. in Tokyo this summer.

The surfing event will take place at Tsurigasaki Beach, which is around 60 miles from Tokyo. Once the optimal wave conditions on the beach are detected, the event will begin, and it will take two days for a winner to be decided.

There will be 40 surfers competing, 20 women and 20 men, all of whom are shortboard surfers. If you haven’t seen “Surf’s Up” (the best movie in the world) and gotten your surfing education, the tube is the pipe-like structure formed when a wave curls around itself but does not collapse. Getting tubed can earn surfers major points.

Like other surfing events, it will be comprised of heats with four people for 25 minutes each. Each surfer will have their best two waves (scored out of 10) added together to determine their score. The quarter, semi and final heats will have only two surfers facing off against each other.

The surfing athletes have already been determined. The World Surf League (WSL) rankings determined the athletes who will be going to Tokyo this summer, includ- ing Brazil’s Gabriel Medina and Tatiana Weston-Webb, Australia’s Owen Wright and Stephanie Gilmore, and the U.S.’s Caroline Marks, Carissa Moore (2019 WSL World Champion) and John John Florence. As the host country, Japan will also have one wildcard spot in the men’s and women’s events.

And if you needed another reason to become a surfing fan, WSL pays equal prize money for their female and male athletes (one of the first sports to win the equal pay battle).

The Olympics will begin on July 24, and now you can sound like an expert when you watch the newest surfing and skateboarding events.

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