WELCOME TO THE COOL KID GAMES
The newest Olympic sports roll with a certain X Games factor
Venue: Ariake Urban Sports Park
Know this: Five Olympics since its cold-weather cousin, snowboarding, debuted, skateboarding drops in with attitude intact. Expect USA, Brazil, and Japan to battle in both events: “Street” emphasizes freestyle use of stairs, handrails, curbs, and other grindables, while “park” plunges into deep bowls. USA’S Nyjah Huston is the male street skater to beat, and cameras will love Brazilian glam punk Leticia Bufoni. Final push: Will winners match their facial piercings to their medals?
Venue: Aomi Urban Sports Park
Know this: Don’t expect helicopter shots of mountain faces. Olympic climbers use man-made walls to defy physics in made-for-tv bursts. Single-discipline specialists need not apply; competitors must master speed, bouldering, and
lead climbs. On the women’s side, sixtime champ Janja Garnbret of Slovenia will be hard to dethrone. Final push:
When American hope Nathaniel Coleman’s feet are on terra firma, he looks like he should be coding a video game. On a wall, he’s freaking Spider-man!
Venue: Tsurigasaki Beach on Japan’s Pacific coast, home to sweet swells Know this: The mellowest of board sports meets the intensity of the Olympics, and we’ll admit to being stereotypically stoked. Expect barrels, turns, and aerials intended to nail criteria, including speed, innovation, and “commitment” (not bailing on a gnarly wave). Final push: No surprise that American John Florence and Aussie Stephanie Gilmore are among the big threats, but keep an eye on the surging Brazilians and host country hero Igarashi Kanoa.