With the contests announced for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics there is some thing that you might have noticed. The contests are only park and street. Vert Skating, one of the earliest formats for skateboarding contests is not present.
For starters, let’s take a look at the definition and history of vert skating.
For those that do not know “vert” is short for “Vertical”. This is referring to a halfpipe that is large enough that the curve of the ramp gets to a point where the ramp is going straight up and down, thus vertical. These ramps are designed for skaters to get launched into the air then come right back down onto the same ramp.
At the Braille House, we have the Vert wall, which is basically a quarter pipe that just keeps going up for about 12 feet.
A lot of skateboarding’s progression came on a ramp like this. The Ollie was invented on a vert ramp. And even though it’s mostly done on the street, It was not invented there.
Vert skating started in the mid 1960s in Los Angeles, California. As skateboarding was growing in popularity, the sport was just developing and riders were looking for some new terrain. That’s where pool skating and bowl skating began.
As the pools got deeper, the riders started skating the more vertical parts. They would skate all the way up to the coping of the pool, and it quickly became a contest of height.
Over the years, skaters started building ramps with vert built in. These ramps were big to say the least. In the 80s, the popularity of vert skating took the world by storm. Skaters were doing some crazy stunts.
A lot of history has been made on vert ramps as well. Skaters like Tony Hawk, Danny Way, Steve Cabarillo and many others have landed some incredible tricks. Tony Hawk landed the first 900, Tom Schaar landed the first 1080 (at only 12 years old). And just this year, Mitchie Brusco landed the first 1260! The sport has definitely been pushed through vert skating.
So the Olympics have decided to leave this out. Why would that be? It can’t be for price, as it’s the least expensive option. Both the Park Course and the Street Course are basically going to be the same costs as building skateparks. So, it must be something else.
The other, and main reason, could be the popularity of Vert Skating. Many skaters seem to think that vert skating is dead. It’s no longer relevant. With the rise of street and freestyle skateboarding, it’s easy to see why some may think this to be true. Is it?
The short answer is yes and no. Many people see skateboarding as just street skating. It’s just because street skating is the most accessible. Anyone can pick up a skateboard , learn how to skate and take it to the streets. On the other side, vert skating requires a vert ramp, something most people don’t have direct access to.
After that, the gradient to learn how to skate vert is a lot harder and scarier. In order to skate vert, you have to go to major parks like Woodward. Some skateparks will have bowls with vert, but most won’t have massive vert ramps. As you can see in the video below, it takes a lot of guts and practice to start skating vert. But, you CAN do it!
As vert isn’t as accessible as street, it definitely hurts this part of the sport. Even just practicing makes it hard if you’re not near a vert ramp. Imagine trying to learn how to play baseball when the nearest baseball diamond is over 2 hours away. There would not be as many baseball players. Even still, people find a way. There are plenty of people still skating and progressing on vert. So it is a long way from dead.
So why did the Olympics make the choice to leave vert skateboarding out of it’s events? Right now, we can only guess. But, there are some things to consider.
With skateboarding being a new addition to the rank of Olympics sports this is going to be a bit of a trial for the Olympics and skateboarding. They probably looked at what they could do and what people would like to see the most. Thus, street and park.
Street and Park are the two most accessible and popular forms of skateboarding right now. Anyone can go outside and start skating street. There are also skateboard parks all across the world.
Street and Park are also the most popular forms of skateboarding, which means drawing in the younger crowd. While vert has some defining moments in skateboarding, it seems that the younger generation is mostly interested in street skating.
There are certainly plenty of types of skateboard contests that could be put in on the 2024 Olympics. These contests have already been around in various competitions, but we can’t wait to see these in the Olympics!
As time goes on, we definitely don’t want vert skating to stop. As skateboarding in the Olympics progresses, I’m sure we’ll see vert skating in the future events. That will bring about even more skaters and a whole new community of skateboarders to the Olympics.
As you look forward to skateboarding in The Olympics and the upcoming X Games, take this time to progress yourself! Check out Skateboarding Made Simple. It’s the most detailed lesson plan for skateboarding that exists. With 7 different volumes, you’ll go from learning how to ride on a board, to skating skateparks and landing more advanced flatground tricks in no time! Who knows, maybe you’ll be competing in the Olympics or X Games in the near future.