Skateboarding is an urban sport where wooden planks with grip tape and wheels are used to ride and perform tricks and aerial acrobatics. The sport uses its environment as a source of support and creativity, with riders often launching off rails and ramps in urban environments or skate parks. Most skateboards are 32 inches long and 9 inches wide and consist of three major parts: the plank, the truck which connects the deck to the wheels, and the wheels.
Skateboarding is believed to have emerged in the U.S. in the mid-20th century by bored surfers who wanted to surf the street. In fact, many early adopters of the sport were called asphalt surfers. The first commercial skateboard was released in 1959 by Roller Derby. However, the first professional skateboards were released in the mid-1960s and many of those brands hosted their own contests to promote sales. Contests took skateboarding from simply cruising on urban streets to competitive slalom (downhill racing) or freestyle competitions where riders showed off tricks. Skateboarding assembled a cult-like following of people on the fringes of society and gave birth to brands like Vans, Converse and DC Shoes.
Eventually riders started dropping into empty pools, which formed the basis of vert skateboarding where skaters use the momentum from a vertical ramp to launch into the air and perform big tricks. In 1978, Alan Gelfand invented a maneuver called the “ollie,” where a rider and their board pop off the ground without the use of the rider’s hands. The ollie is the basis of many advanced street skateboarding tricks.
The very first National Skateboard Championships were held in Anaheim, California in 1965. James O'Mahoney created the U.S. Skateboard Association (USSA), and later the World Skateboard Association (WSA), now called World Skate, in the mid-1970s.
The World Cup of Skateboarding started in 1994 as the biggest street and vert competition. The X Games further fueled skateboarding’s popularity beginning in the mid-1990s. Skateboarding will be added to the Olympics in an official capacity at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.
The Olympics will have two disciplines: skate park and the street, with street being a straight course containing stairs, boxes and handrails. One athlete will ride at a time and will get three timed runs to get their best score. They’ll be judged based on their speed, originality, timing, difficulty, and flow.
The Olympic event will host 20 competitors (per gender) for both vert and street:
• 3 will qualify directly as the highest-ranking skaters in qualifying 2020 season events.
• 16 will qualify according to the OSWR (Olympic World Skateboarding Ranking) rankings as of June 1, 2020.
• 1 will qualify as the highest-ranking member of the host nation.