Horigome Yuto stoked for first X Games in Japan

The first men's street skateboard Olympic champion can't wait to compete in the world's top action sports event  in front of his home fans in Chiba.

By Shintaro Kano
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Skateboarding Olympic gold medallist Horigome Yuto is relishing competing in Japan again.

But this time it'll be in front of a crowd.

"We didn't have a crowd at the Olympics but we will here," said Horigome on Thursday (21 April) at Chiba Marine Stadium on the eve of Japan's first-ever X Games.

"I really hope we can win some new fans because I think watching skateboarding live compared to watching it on TV is so different. They'll be able to feel it, and I want people to get even more excited about skateboarding in Japan."

Last summer, Horigome captured the first Olympic gold medal in men's street skateboarding at Tokyo 2020 where COVID-19 protocols kept fans outside the venues.

While he was already a household name in the sport, the 23-year-old smashed into the Japanese mainstream with his Olympic triumph and will be looking to repeat that success at Paris 2024.

X Games Chiba will be Horigome's first competition since Tokyo 2020. He is far from a stranger to the world's biggest action sports event, having taken victory in 2019 in Minneapolis.

But on Thursday, he had the giddy excitement of a first-timer.

"The X Games is a dream competition for me. It's something I used to watch on TV as a kid," the Tokyo native said.

"And now the competition is here in Japan and I have an opportunity to take part. I'm really looking forward to it and I hope I can ride to the best of my ability."

While the X Games' most successful street skater Nyjah Huston has pulled out for undisclosed reasons, the field remains highly competitive with the medallists from Tokyo - Horigome, Kelvin Hoefler and Jagger Eaton - all in Chiba.

Horigome says he has some new tricks up his sleeve but, more importantly, he wants to show his compatriots why the X Games has such widespread appeal.

"I want to be at my best because it's such a huge event that's in Japan. I'm giving it everything I have.

"The best pro skaters in the world are all here in Japan and I can't wait to put on a show with all of them. It's my first competition since the Olympics and I'm just so excited.

"I've been working on some new tricks and I plan on showing some of them at the X Games."

Elimination for the men's street event takes place on Saturday with the final on Sunday.

READ: X Games' Japan debut: Horigome Yuto, Rayssa Leal, Logan Martin among stars plus schedule, how to watch

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