Skateboarding, a staple of American culture, is being exported to Tokyo to make its Olympic debut.
Three women are competing for Team USA in Park Skateboarding and two of them are 17 years old and best friends. Bryce Wettstein and Brighton Zeuner both live in Encinatas, California, and compete on the pro circuit.
Jordyn Barratt, 22, is the third member of the Women’s Park team.
Bryce started skateboarding when she was just 5 years old
“I think I first knew that I wanted to be a skateboarder when I finally realized that every day I could go on, pretty much embark on, a new excursion to find little bits and pieces of myself, and so I finally had all the Jenga pieces to make me who I was,” she said.
When she first heard skateboarding was going to be an Olympic sport she couldn’t believe it and now that she’s on the team, she said she really can’t believe it.
“When I first heard it, I was like no way! That doesn’t make any sense,” Bryce said.
Even when she talks about it with friends, it doesn’t feel real.
“It’s always news to me, and it never seems that it could be said again and again and again with the same reaction, but it’s one of those things that will never come down when it’s all the way up there,” Bryce said.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Bryce can’t have her parents with her in Tokyo even though she’s a minor, but she said she’s used to making adjustments.
“The thing about skateboarding is, there’s always some sort of adjustment you’re making and that’s what makes it beautiful,” Bryce said. “It’s something we’re all coping with and figuring out in our own ways.”
There are three girls on Team USA competing in Park Skateboarding, and only one can win gold. Bryce hopes that one of her teammates gets to stand at the top of the podium.
“Seeing somebody from your team do that, let alone one of your best friends is sometimes the sheer exact equivalent of you doing it,” she said.
There are six men and six women competing for the USA. Three men and three women will compete in the Park competition, and three men and three women will compete in the Street competition.
The Women’s Street team is comprised of 24-year-old Mariah Duran, 34-year-old Alexis Sablone, and 20-year-old Alana Smith.
The park competition is made up of a preliminary round and a finals round. 20 skaters will compete in four heats of five skaters. The top eight skaters will move on to the finals.
In both rounds, each skater does three 45-second runs. Five judges score the skater from 0 to 100. The highest and lowest scores get dropped. Then the remaining three scores are averaged to two decimal places to give the skater their final score. Scores from the preliminary round do not carry over to the finals.
The park competition’s course has the skaters move through hollowed-out bowls. Many of the tricks the skaters will complete are scored on how well they skate up the walls of the bowl.
The street competition is also made up of a preliminary round and a finals round. 20 skaters compete in four heats of five skaters. The top eight skaters from the combined ranking of the heats move on to the finals.
In both rounds, each skater does three 45-second runs and five tricks. Five judges score the skater from 0 to 100. The highest and lowest scores for each run or trick get dropped. Then the remaining three scores are averaged to one decimal place to give the skater their final score. In each round, the skater’s four highest run or trick scores are added to create their final round score. Scores from the preliminary round do not carry over to the finals.
The street competition has a course that compares to obstacles they would see on the street like stairs, curbs, walls, benches, slopes, and handrails. The scores are based on elements like speed, height, originality, execution, and composition.
The skateboarding competitions will be held at the Ariake Urban Sports Park. Men’s Street Skateboarding competes on July 25, Women’s Street Skateboarding competes on July 26, Women’s Park Skateboarding competes on August 4, Men’s Park Skateboarding competes on August 5.
Click here for the complete schedule.