When our Facebook newsfeed told us that skateboarding will become an official event in the 2020 Olympics, we assumed we were reading a headline from the Onion. Turns out it was true.
The decision to add skateboarding to the Olympic roster has inspired support and criticism in equal measure. The games are a notoriously upper-middle-class institution.
Full of competitors that can afford tennis lessons, expensive after-school athletics programs, and 40-metre diving pools, the global event excludes countless potential athletes for financial reasons. Creating a platform for DIY sports like skateboarding makes the Olympics accessible to everyone.
Critics of the ruling, however, argue that the new category will dilute the core philosophies of skating. Suggesting that the sport’s counter-cultural ethos will be worn down as skateboarding is co-opted into the mainstream, a number of riders have pointed out how the Olympics’ training-focused, medal-obsessed philosophy is at odds with skateboarding’s foundation in rebellion.
One Vancouver event, however, expertly straddles that line.
This weekend’s tongue-in-cheek Strathletics competition is, apparently, not your average skateboard contest—and not the Olympics either. Showcasing events like synchronized skating, hippy jump hurdles, the skateboard discus toss, 100 metre mongo dash, long jump and many more, Strathletics’s creativity tops anything that the International Olympic Committee could ever dream up.
And, with a stash of gold, silver, and bronze medals to hand out to the winners, it might just as well be Tokyo 2020.
Is it the best solution we’ve ever heard to the Olympic skateboarding debate? We think it just might be.
Strathletics takes place at Strathcona Park this Sunday (September 11). The events begin at 1 p.m. and no drugs testing is required.