Japan’s Yuto Horigome won the first-ever skateboarding competition at the Olympic Games, taking gold in men’s street in the city where he learned to skate as a kid and where his sport is often frowned upon.
The first skateboarding silver went to Brazilian Kelvin Hoefler, who used to sleep with his board when he fell in love with skating as a kid.
U.S. skater Jagger Eaton took bronze, the Arizonan adapting best among the Americans to the heat at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. The blazing sun softened rubber joints on the boards’ wheel axles, making them harder to control.
One of skateboarding’s biggest stars, Nyjah Huston from the U.S., fell repeatedly trying to land tricks and placed seventh in the eight-man final.
The Californian was among those who struggled with furnace-like conditions in the skatepark of rails, stairs, ledges and other street furniture that gives the event its name.
“Your feet starting burning up,” he said. “Your board like gets so hot that it kind of flexes more. That’s kind of why I fell on one of those tricks out there.”
Skateboarding’s Olympic debut delivered exactly what the Games’ organizers had hoped for: a high-adrenaline show of thrills and lots of spills from athletes plugged into younger audiences. Eaton celebrated his bronze by whipping his phone out of his pocket and broadcasting live on Instagram.
While Huston melted down in the heat and pressure, Horigome was ice cool, executing the toughest tricks. On his highest-scoring stunt, the 22-year-old flipped the board from under him on takeoff and slid it down a jagged rail on its nose, a trick called a nollie 270 noseslide.
That earned a high-scoring 9.5. Horigome was the only skater in the final to score nothing but nines in all of his tricks that counted.