Earlier this week, at the CA Training Facility (CA | TF) in Vista, California, 16 professional skateboarders were named to the United States national team based on their performance during a series of qualifying international competitions that took place in 2018.
With full transparency, eight men and eight women comprise the team, with half competing in Park events and half in Street. These skaters will receive support of USA Skateboarding – the U.S. governing body for skateboarding – during the qualifying events that lead up to the Tokyo Games in 2020.
“Kids all around the world, and the adults, are going to learn from skateboarding what has taken place here in Southern California for many years,” says Gary Ream, USA Skateboarding chairman. “And the biggest change we’ll see from all of this will not necessarily take place in this country, but it’s going to resonate throughout the rest of the world.”
USA Skateboarding’s biggest challenge in its Olympic Games pursuit has been to ensure skateboarding’s authenticity and culture, both could have easily been swayed by governing bodies who don’t fully understand skateboarding from the perspective of the kids who grew up loving the activity.
“First and foremost, I really understand how skateboarding is so different,” explains Ream. “And to be able to now present that on the largest global sporting event in the world – I do believe with all certainty that this whole thought process, the field of play, the stories we tell, that we will send a message globally that will change the entire thought process for the youth of what is important in life.”
Nyjah Huston, who will compete in the Street events, will potentially compete against his peers now representing countries all over the globe.
“It's interesting, we haven’t done this before, but when it comes down to it, it’s also very much the same thing,” says Huston. “Everyone out there is insanely good at skating, most of the dudes have a good chance of winning, so it’s all about who can pull it together and handle that pressure. But I think the part about supporting your country, I mean, I’m stoked to be representing the United States. It adds that extra factor to the whole thing and it gets me even more hyped to compete.”
Huston – who was named by ESPN Magazine as the skater who will change the course of the sport over the next decade – has brought home seven X Games gold medals and won the “Best Male Action Sports Athlete” at the 2013 and 2014 ESPY Awards. On being named one of the first-ever USA skateboarders, Huston says, “It feels special and it’s an honor for sure. I still have to do the work to get there, that’s the most important thing, but it’s definitely a special feeling.”
Jordyn Barratt, who landed on nine podiums in 2018 (including four wins), is stoked to compete in the Park events during time when women are being more recognized in a male dominated sport.
“Things haven’t always been fair or equal for us, so I’m super stoked to have a platform that encourages equality and more opportunities for women globally,” says Barratt.
In 2016, Barratt competed in the 2016 US Open of Surfing, making her the first female to compete as a pro in both US Open skate and surf in the same year. She was also was the first female to qualify for the Dew Tour Park Am contest, skating alongside the men. That same year, she turned pro after winning a bronze medal in her debut X Games. And 2017 was a breakthrough year for Barratt, as she earned an X Games silver medal in Skateboard Park and won the Vans Combi and Bowl-A-Rama events. Barratt's more recent highlights include winning Gold at the Vans Park Series event in Malmo, Silver at the US Open, and Bronze at both the Dew Tour and the VPS World Championships in China.
“Because of the Olympics, there has already been a lot of change in the right direction,” Barratt enthuses. “The Olympics requires equal prize purse in the qualifying events and equal participants of men and women, so just that has created a lot more opportunity for contests, sponsorships, spots in magazines and media – things that were never there before to cover women in skateboarding. So it’s all positive from my perspective.”
While the first-ever team has been announced, no position on the team is safe without defending it. Skateboarders will have the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics based on their three best results in World Skate sanctioned events during the 2019 qualifying season – now through Sept. 15, 2019 – combined with their six best results during the 2020 qualifying season – Sept. 16, 2019 through May 31, 2020. The 2020 World Championships will also be a direct qualifier for the games for the top three podium spots at each event.
Here’s the Full 2019 USA Skateboarding National Team Roster:
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