Some of the brightest stars in the skateboarding firmament will be in the state of Iowa starting today for the lone USA-based global Olympic qualifying event for this summer’s Games in Tokyo. Superstar Nyjah Huston, Jamie Foy, Mariah Duran and Leticia Bufoni are but a few hoping to gain points and hardware in Des Moines.
The 2021 Summer Dew Tour marks the return of big-time competitive skateboarding, which, like much of the world’s sporting pursuits, was seriously scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event will take place from 20-23 May in Des Moines, Iowa. It will be the USA's only global Olympic skateboard qualifying event before the sport makes its debut on the Olympic stage in Japan this summer.
Venue continuity: Des Moines to Tokyo
The street and park courses of the Lauridsen Skatepark will host the three-day event in Iowa. This Olympic-level competition venue, designed and built by the world-renowned company California Skateparks, is the nation’s largest skateboarding venue and the 2021 Dew Tour Summer event will be its maiden competition.
"We wanted to change the perception of what a skatepark should look like… These athletes [the world’s top skateboarders] are really pushing the limits and it’s up to us to put the right things in front of them,” Joe Ciaglia, head designer of both the Lauridsen skatepark and the debut Olympic skateboarding facility in Japan, told Tokyo 2020 in a recent interview.
His partner, chief builder Bill Minadeo – who oozes a quiet passion for the sport – is in agreement: “The whole job is to provide a place to express creativity and fun. That's it. It's just about fun. This Olympic project is the icing on the cake.”
Big names in line in Iowa
The list of athletes expected to be in action in Des Moines is a who’s-who of some of the sport’s biggest names.
READ MORE: Complete List of Skaters in Iowa
From the host nation, world number-one rider Nyjah Huston – world champion on five separate occasions – will be tipped to collect qualifying points and hardware. His compatriot Jamie Foy, a master of the handrails and 2017’s Thrasher Magazine Skater of the Year, will also be expecting big things in his return to competitions after over a year of what he calls “falling in love again” with skating in streets left largely abandoned during the pandemic.
READ MORE: Jamie Foy – The humble king of handrails
Florida-based Jake Ilardi and Hawaii-born Heimana Reynolds, the top-ranked American in the men’s park discipline, are also ones to watch in Iowa along with recently crowned USA national street champion Dashawn Jordan.
Other men to watch in Des Moines will be Zion Wright and Louie Lopez (both USA), Axel Cruysberghs (Belgium) and AOKI Yukito (Japan).
READ MORE: Get to know Team USA ace skater Nyjah Huston
On the women’s side, stylish USA national street champion Mariah Duran – of Albuquerque, New Mexico – is looking to keep up her ascension toward the top of the sport.
“It’s cool to just be kind of an example and be one of the first ever,” she told Olympics.com about the opportunity to be one of the first to ride a skateboard in Olympic competition. “It only happens once and there’s a chance for that.”
READ MORE: Female skateboarding on the rise worldwide
Among the other female competitors are park standouts Minna Stess, Bryce Wettstein and Jordan Santana (all USA). On the street side, Brazilian Leticia Bufoni will be in action alongside ODA Yumeka (Japan) and Roos Zwetsloot (Netherlands).
2019 Getty Images
Format – a race to the semis
Competition will begin with a qualifying round involving over 300 skaters who reached Iowa as open qualifiers for the men’s and women’s street and park disciplines. From there, the top 20 in each gender and discipline will move through to the semifinals.
Waiting in the penultimate round will be a star-studded list of pre-seeded contenders who received a bye through the qualifiers due to their official world ranking from the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
The top eight skaters will move through to the finals from each of the semifinal rounds.
Humble origins to global fascination
Skateboarding’s first breaths were drawn back in the middle of the last century as a way for the surfers of southern California to practice their passion on pavement when the weather didn’t cooperate. No one back in those early days could have foreseen the explosion of skateboarding in the decades that followed – nor, likely, its inclusion among the official programme at the Olympic Games.
Part culture, part sport and part principle of extreme devotion, skateboarding has gone on to capture the imagination of the entire world with its hybrid displays of acrobatics, skill and derring-do.
High flying and high stakes – skateboarding is among the most hotly-anticipated Olympic debut sports of recent times.
“It’s surprising for me that it’s even taken this long for skateboarding to get into the Olympics,” Huston – tipped to win one of the first gold medals on offer in skateboarding, told Tokyo 2020 in a recent interview. “Skateboarding is such a worldwide sport and so accessible… all you need is yourself and some motivation.”
Where to watch Des Moines 2021
Tickets to the qualifying event are being made available free-of-charge to fans, though at a limited number to keep in line with the COVID-19 restrictions still in place for mass gatherings in much of the United States. The event will be live-streamed on the Dew Tour’s official website (DewTour.com) as well as Facebook Live, YouTube, and other major platforms with a total of 25+ hours of LIVE video.
Much-anticipated Olympic debut
The venue for the inaugural Olympic Skateboard competition this summer will be on the scenic shores of Tokyo Bay. Qualification is based on global rankings maintained by World Skate, the sport’s international governing body – and points are earned at competitions, like the one in Iowa, toward stamping tickets to the historic event.
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