Skateboarding Preview

Skateboarding will make its Olympic debut at this summer’s Games in Tokyo. It was officially added to the program by vote during the 2016 International Olympic Committee session in Rio de Janeiro

There is no single person credited with inventing skateboarding or the first skateboard. The invention of the skateboard appears to have been a spontaneous occurrence in the United States in the 1950s, fueled by the rise of surf culture. Following the invention of the kicktail in 1969 and urethane wheels in the early 1970s, the ability to turn and maneuver skateboards opened countless new possibilities for the sport. Skateboarding rapidly evolved from a fad during its first boom in the 1960s, to the center of mainstream youth culture in the early 2000s. 

Two distinct disciplines of skateboarding will take place at the Tokyo Games: park and street. Park terrain courses are based on transitional concrete bowls from 5 to 10 feet in depth, and are distinguished by design features such as spines, hips, extensions, escalators, banks, elevation changes, gaps and variable grinding surfaces.

The competitors in park contests have three attempts to execute their best 45-second “run” consisting of various tricks of their choosing. Skaters are free to attempt any trick they want during their run, generating and maintaining momentum as they move through the course.

Park skateboarding tricks consist primarily of airs, lip tricks and inverts. Along with significant differences in course design, park differs from street skateboarding in that competitors rarely push to generate speed and frequently perform tricks grabbing the board with their hands. The members of the U.S. Olympic Team in park are Jordyn Barratt, Cory Juneau, Heimana Reynolds, Bryce Wettstein, Zion Wright and Brighton Zeuner.

Street skateboarding courses are designed to replicate real-world urban terrain and consist of stair sets, rails, gaps, benches, ledges and planters on riding surfaces of varying heights. Traditional skate park elements such as banks and quarter-pipes are also included.

The competitors in street contests are required to skate the course in two different ways; a timed “run” where they perform a sequence of tricks during the allotted 45 seconds, and a “trick” section consisting of five separate attempts to perform different tricks of their choosing. The members of the U.S. Olympic Team in street are Mariah Duran, Jagger Eaton, Jake Ilardi, Nyjah Huston, Alexis Sablone and Alana Smith.

Updated on June 18, 2021. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

• More than just an American hobby, the sport of skateboarding is building momentum around the world. Popularized by the X Games and athletes such as Tony Hawk, skateboarding has become a worldwide phenomenon. That’s also the case in Japan, where local fans will cheer on hometown hero Yuto Horigome, No. 2 in the world in men's street behind Team USA’s Nyjah Huston. And on the women’s side, Japan has the world’s No. 1 park skater in Misugu Okamoto. 

• 2021 is a big year for skateboarding, with fans hoping to see the sport surge in popularity much like snowboarding did after its Olympic debut. Skateboarding is part of a few new “extreme” sports added for Tokyo such as surfing and sport climbing.

• Not only is Nyjah Huston the winningest street skateboarder in history, but he has also become one of the best-known action sports stars over the course of his career. The 26-year-old has captured 13 gold medals at the X Games and won the “Best Male Action Sports Athlete” award at the 2013, 2014 and 2019 ESPY Awards. He won his fourth street world championship in 2019.

• Mariah Duran experienced a breakout year in 2016 by turning pro and earning silver at the X Games. A year later, Duran captured her first street league podium finish at the world championship. Duran, 24, won back-to-back X Games gold medals in 2018, one in Sydney and one in Minneapolis, and now ranks as Team USA’s top female street skater at No. 6.

• Honolulu’s Heimana Reynolds has been skating since the age of 6. Now 22, Reynolds experienced a breakout year in 2019 as he won the international open in China in July, the world championships in Brazil in September, then took gold at the world beach games in Qatar, and second at the national championships in October. Reynolds is the No. 1 men’s park skater in the world.

• Bryce Wettstein has been skating and surfing since she was 5 years old. She is now a national champion and the top ranked women’s park skateboarder in the U.S. at 16 years old, while also maintaining full-time honor-roll student status. 

• July 25, 2021: Olympic competition begins with men’s street
• July 26 2021: Women’s street
• August 4, 2021: Women’s park
• August 5, 2021: Men’s park