Skateboarding and surfing make their mark on the Olympic stage

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and ISA President Fernando Aguerre at the surf competition site – Photo courtesy of ISA

After years and years of incredibly hard work by many in the industry, skateboarding and surfing have finally made their debut at the Olympics.

We now have medalists in both sports, which have been exposed to a global mainstream audience. Carissa Moore and Italo Ferreira won gold in surfing, and Yuto Horigome and Momiji Nishiya did the same in street skateboarding, which is huge for Japan.

So far, the stars of both sports appear to be the 13-year-old girls who have won gold and silver medals in the skating competition.

Nishiya from Japan and Rayssa Leal from Brazil have captured the hearts of many around the world, and at least in the United States, the skateboarding competition has received more prime-time coverage on major television networks.

Skateboarding also has another event starting next week, the Park Competition.

The success of young girls in skateboarding comes at an interesting time for skateboarding, which has seen an increase in pre-game participation, especially among women. Surfing, of course, also experienced a boom during the pandemic and could be further enhanced by increased exposure during games.

Unfortunately, industry brands that sponsor Olympic athletes and medalists are very limited in how they can promote their victories due to strict Olympic rules designed to protect paying sponsors of the Games.

Nike SB is the big winner so far in enjoying the moment in a way that respects the rules. They posted a video on Instagram that pays tribute to Rayssa Leal, who first caught the attention of the skate world when Tony Hawk shared a video of her pulling off a trick in a fairy costume. With its success in games, this original video has gone viral again and it could become the biggest departure of all.

The Nike SB video, which was visibly set for release ahead of the Olympics, incorporates the fairy theme while showing Rayssa skating around town.

All in all, it will be interesting to see how exposure to the Olympics impacts surfing and skateboarding in the future.

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