“It still feels weird! “ Gathered in Biarritz at the end of June, the members of the first French Olympic skateboard team in history stare at each other with a mixture of fun and circumspection. All of them donned one of the official outfits concocted by their sponsor for the Tokyo Olympics. “When we were told we would need a uniform, we started by saying ‘What? Impossible !” “, breathes Vincent Milou, who will contest, Sunday July 25, the test of “street”, a sequence of figures on a course evoking the street furniture. “It’s not the spirit of skateboarding at all. “
Dedicated, for the first time, on the Olympic altar, alongside surfing, climbing and karate, skateboarding is confronted, in Tokyo, with the dilemma of any “free” discipline invited to join a century-old system: how not appear constricted in this new costume? Especially when you’ve spent your life on the margins.
Greg Poissonnier, communication manager of the National Skateboard Commission and skateboarder for more than thirty years, assumes the fact of seeing “The glass half full”. “It’s recognition. That our activity is accepted as a sport, in this holy grail of competition, it eliminates all the times when skateboarders have been kicked off the streets when they just wanted to work on their style. “
Rejuvenating the Games Audience
Incorporated into the Games program by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in search of spectacular disciplines capable of rejuvenating its audience, skateboarding could be faced with a growth crisis. “A new generation will take to skateboarding with a view to the Olympics and competition”, estimates Vincent Matheron, who will line up in the “park”, a test on a hollow course with a series of technical curves. He is already seeing what he considers to be a rupture emerging. “We must not forget that skateboarding is a culture and a passion. The people who go there to compete, for me, are not real skaters. “ From the top of his 22 years, the Marseillais thinks inevitable a battle of the old and the modern in his discipline, as it will fall into the ranks.
The winter disciplines resulting from the X Games (the annual meeting of extreme sports) have paved, for several decades, the way for new entrants to the Olympic concert. They have grown Games icons, such as American snowboarder Shaun White, three-time Olympic half-pipe champion. The example to follow? “Shaun White is a huge champion, but for me it’s a big joke, considers Vincent Milou. I respect him enormously, he gave the image of the winner, who wants his Olympic gold medal and succeeds in having it. Well done to him, but that’s not the essence of “snow” at all. “ The one that would see snowboarders hurtling down the slopes and do more tricks with friends. He hopes that skateboarding will not give this image of competition at all costs when it enters the Games, but will manage to keep the soul of the pioneers.
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