In Men’s Skateboard Street, 20 riders representing 17 countries will be gunning for the first-ever Olympic gold medal awarded in the sport. The conversation around gold medal favorites inevitably includes the winningest street skater in history, Monster Energy’s Nyjah Huston. The 26-year-old owns 19 X Games medals in total (13 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze) and is the current SLS World Champion after claiming his third back-to-back title in 2019. On the road to Tokyo, Huston dominated the leaderboards with wins at the 2019 SLS World Tour Stop in London, England, and his recent victory at Dew Tour Des Moines 2021. Totaling 269,900 points on the World Skate rankings, he came in 50,000 points ahead of the next competitor. Watch out for Nyjah when it’s time to send it in Tokyo!
In Women’s Skateboard Street, one of the youngest competitors is also one of the biggest podium threats: 13-year-old Rayssa Leal from Imperatriz, Brazil, qualified in second place amongst the world elite of female street skaters. Her path to Tokyo included an upset victory at the 2019 SLS World Tour Stop in Los Angeles. The prodigy also clinched second place finishes at the 2019 SLS World Championships São Paulo, Oi STU Open Rio de Janeiro 2019, and Dew Tour Des Moines 2021. Known for her tech tricks on big handrails, Leal just took third place in the Rome 2021 Street Skateboarding World Championships and first in the Brazilian Championships. A total of 235,200 qualifier points speak for themselves. Did we mention she is only 13?
At the Tokyo Games, Leal will be facing heavy competition from her new Monster teammate, 19-year-old Aori Nishimura from Tokyo, Japan. Fresh off winning the 2021 Street World Championships in Rome, the rookie pro already took back-to-back X Games gold in Minneapolis and Norway to bring her gold medal count to three. She also became a household name by winning the Street League World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in January 2019. Now all she needs is an Olympic gold medal – and she has the skills to make it happen.
Speaking of skills to make it happen, 27-year-old Kelvin Hoefler from Guarujá, Brazil, earned his way into the Men’s Skateboard Street event in fourth place by consistently placing in the finals of all except one qualifier events over the past two years. He took second place in the 2019 International Skateboarding Open (ISO) Henan with his ability to deliver difficult tricks when it counts. The previous SLS Super Crown Champion has won high-profile competitions such as Dew Tour, Street League Skateboarding, and X Games, where he holds five street skating medals (2 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze). You can watch Hoefler’s origin story in Episode 2 of the ‘Aspire – Inspire’ mini-documentary video series.
When it comes to grace under pressure, don’t count out the technical street skating skills of 23-year-old Aurelien Giraud from Lyon, France. Since barging into the spotlight by winning the coveted Tampa Am street skateboarding competition in 2015, the rookie has claimed wins in key events such as Simple Session (2016 and 2017), FAR'n High (2019), and Dew Tour Championship (2019). Giraud also won the French National Championships (2019) and took third at Dew Tour Des Moines 2021 to qualify into Tokyo in sixth place. He’s serious about claiming a medal for France, just watch his preparations for the 2021 Olympics in Episode 1 of ‘Aspire – Inspire’!
Also in Men’s Skateboard Street, watch out for 27-year-old Matt Berger from Kamloops, Canada, who earned his way to Japan with a big bag of tricks and consistency. As a finalist at Dew Tour 2019 and the Street World Championships Rome 2021, Berger climbed to tenth place in the qualifier rankings – and has the rail combos to soar even higher. What’s more, prepare for the rookie energy of two 20-year-old Monster riders from South America: Representing Brazil, Giovanni Vianna has held his own against the best of the best at contests like the SLS World Tour Stop Los Angeles 2019. He will be joined in Tokyo by newly added team rider Jhancarlos Gonzalez from Columbia, who might just be the biggest wildcard of the Tokyo Games.
Look out for three Monster Energy riders when the action moves into the Skateboard Park discipline. Contested on a course featuring vertical bowls peppered with street-inspired rail and wall ride elements, the event will feature athletes from 18 different countries in Men’s and Women’s competitions.
Representing Japan as the host country in Men’s Skateboard Park, 22-year-old Ayumu Hirano from Murakami already has two Olympic silver medals to his name. How? That’s because the snowboarding phenom, who has gone blow-for-blow against Shaun White at key international snowboard superpipe events, is a true multi-terrain ripper. Raised at his father’s skatepark on a steady diet of vertical skating since age 4, the reigning Japanese Halfpipe Championship has a chance to make history as the first Japanese rider to medal in both snowboarding and skateboarding. Who said that skateboarding in the Olympics wasn’t going to be special? Make sure and watch the multi-talented rider’s journey to the Olympics in Episode 4 of ‘Aspire –Inspire’. Filmed on location in Murakami City, the 12-minute video catches up with the multi-talented rider headed to Tokyo as the top-ranked Japanese Park skater qualified for the Olympics.
It also gets hardly more special than Monster athlete Lizzie Armanto, who qualified into Women’s Skateboard Park in fifth place to represent Finland (because of her dual citizenship). A true icon of the sport, the 28-year-old from Santa Monica, California, took gold in her X Games debut in Barcelona in 2013 and made history in 2018 as the first female skateboarder to complete the legendary ‘Loop of Death’ obstacle. Armanto earned her ticket to Tokyo with standouts like second place at Dew Tour Long Beach 2019 and we can’t wait to see her signature style in an Olympic setting.
Last but not least, a true vertical skateboarding trailblazer is headed to Tokyo: Representing Denmark, 46-year-old Rune Glifberg from Copenhagen placed first in the Danish National Championships in Skateboard Park to make the list of Top 20 Olympic qualifiers. Having competed at the very first X Games in 1995, Glifberg now holds 12 X Games medals (2 gold, 3 silver, and 7 bronze) and has built one of the most successful and respected careers in skateboarding. After winning every top-tier vertical skate competition of the 1990s and early 2000s at least once, Glifberg was immortalized as a playable character in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series of video games. Now he can add ‘Olympic Skateboarder’ to a long list of accolades. You can watch the rise of the enduring skateboard icon in Episode 3 of ‘Aspire – Inspire’ which highlights Glifberg’s story.
Viewers in the United States can follow skateboarding’s Olympic debut live on NBCUniversal. The broadcaster will air more than 7,000 hours of Olympics coverage on TV and streaming video online, with skateboard icon Tony Hawk as one of the official NBC Olympics correspondents. The Men’s Skateboard Street final will air live on June 24, 2021, 11:30 pm EST, Women’s Street Final on June 25, 2021, 11:30 pm EST. Tune in for Women’s Skateboard Park final on August 3, 2021, 11:30 pm EST before the action wraps with Men’s Park on August 4, 2021, 11:30 pm EST. Find more info on dates and showtimes on the official NBC Olympics Skateboarding landing page.