Top teenage talent flip, grind and spin through Skateboarding test event

Next generation of skating stars put the Ariake Urban Sports Park through thrilling Tokyo test ahead of the Olympic Games in 2021.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Nineteen of the best young skaters in Japan took to the Ariake Urban Sports Park on Friday (14 May) to test their skills ahead of the sport’s debut at the Olympic Games this summer.

In the latest in a series of READY STEADY TOKYO ramp-up events to test the preparedness of the venues ahead of the Games in 2021, it was time for the young hot-shots to take centre stage as professional skaters were not invited to participate out of fairness to all those who will compete from July.

Those who took part were an inspired generation of up-and-coming teenage talent from across Japan who were specifically chosen based on their 2019 rankings.

Although the group, aged from 12-20, will not take part at Tokyo 2020, they did give an impressive look into what could follow this summer when skateboarding - and its two disciplines of Street and Park - makes its Olympic bow.

Men’s Park

With just 70 days remaining until the opening ceremony, ten promising male skaters took to the park to showcase their skills at the picturesque Tokyo bay venue.

Among them was 16-year-old UCHIDA Reo and his brother, Rui, 14, who travelled from Aichi to take part.

“When I saw the venue, everything was so big,” Reo told Tokyo 2020. “At first I didn’t think I could do it [take part], but when I tried it, it was so easy and fun.

“It was an amazing experience to skate in a park where top international skaters [will] skate.”

His brother Rui added: “It was beautiful. It felt good to skate. It was a great experience to skate in an Olympic venue. I was influenced by SASAOKA Kensuke, so I want to support him in the Tokyo 2020 Games.”

UCHIDA Rui and UCHIDA Reo
Picture by Tokyo 2020 / Shugo TAKEMI

The Olympic venue is located in Tokyo Waterfront City, an urban area that will host Tokyo 2020’s youth-focussed sports including BMX freestyle, sport climbing and 3x3 basketball, and even before the Games have begun the regenerated area is already inspiring a new generation of future Olympians.

With high school entrance exams looming, MASUDA Kaoru decided Tokyo 2020 came too soon for him to qualify for a home Olympics, but will use the experience for extra motivation to make Japan's national team at the next Games in Paris 2024.

“I was very happy and excited to skate in an Olympic venue,” the 14-year-old from Kanagawa Prefecture told Tokyo 2020. “It was bigger than I expected from all the park courses I have been on.

“My favourite trick, the frontside nose grind, was the best one for me [but] it was difficult to structure my runs. In the future I want to compete in the Olympic Games and I hope to be in Paris.”

GettyImages-1232877904
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Women’s Street

Whilst the men competed on the Park course, nine women took to the tricky Street to grind, slide and jump over curbs, stairs, handrails, benches and walls.

In a sign of the format to come at Tokyo 2020, judges adopted the two-five-four system whereby each skater had two ‘rides’ of 45 seconds to complete their five best tricks, with the best four scores from seven attempts counting towards their final score.

As was the case for the men’s, the women’s street event was an unofficial competition and results were not tallied, but there were still strong performances throughout with 15-year-old SASAKI Miyu receiving applause for successfully landing after an impressive grind, and the remaining line-up of KITANO Seto (13), UEMURA Aoi (12), TAKAHASHI Yuno (13), KANAMORI Rinka (16), ITO Miyu (13), OTSUKA Reiko (12), MATSUDA Yui (14) and FUJIEDA Azumi (14) producing various tricks as they prepare to see their heroes compete in the same venue this summer.

Skateboarding test event: Women's Street 

Watch Skateboarding at the Ariake Urban Sports Park from 25-26 July 2021 (Street) and 4-5 August 2021 (Park).

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