How professional and longtime skateboarders feel about the sport making its Olympic debut

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How professional and longtime skateboarders feel about the sport making its Olympic debut
Tony Hawk talks to with Brazilian skater Rayssa Leal ahead of the Olympics Games. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • Skateboarding is making its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
  • Pro skater Tony Hawk said the Olympics need skateboarding more than the sport needs the games.
  • Olympic skateboarder Jordyn Barratt said the Summer Games will help bring more people to the sport.

Skateboarding is new to the Olympics this year, and skating icon Tony Hawk told Reuters that he's glad the sport is finally being recognized - though he previously told Insider that it is likely because the Olympics needs its "youth cool factor."

"If nothing else it's going to get kids interested in skating from unlikely areas, from unlikely countries," he said in the same interview.

An Olympic skateboarder agrees that it will bring more people to the sport

Jordyn Barratt, a 22-year-old professional skateboarder on the first US Olympic skateboarding team, told Insider that she remembers the moment she found out it would become a part of the Summer Games.

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"I was super excited," Barratt, who has been practicing the sport for 11 years, said. "I had just finished high school and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do."

How professional and longtime skateboarders feel about the sport making its Olympic debut
Jordyn Barratt is a 22-year-old professional skateboarder. Joanne Barratt

Barratt said she understands the concerns some skaters have about the Olympics, but she thinks it will help diversify the industry.

"It's only going to bring more skaters, more skate parks, and more to the industry - especially on the female side," she said.

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Growing up on Oahu, an island in Hawaii, Barratt said she remembers being the only girl at the skate park. Regardless, Barratt got a passionate feeling when she skated that she didn't get from her other hobbies, like surfing.

How professional and longtime skateboarders feel about the sport making its Olympic debut
Barratt skates with her dogs. Joanne Barratt

Even when she skates competitively, Barratt said skateboarding is always about that passionate feeling.

"That's the thing with skateboarding that's different from a lot to a lot of other sports," Barratt said. "At the end of the day, we skate because it's fun."

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A longtime skater says the Olympics won't impact the counterculture skateboarding was built on

Noah Factor told Insider he has been skating for 32 years. Factor said he skateboards in the private indoor pool he built with his buddies 11 years ago, and he goes to Lake Superior to surf, another sport that was added to the Summer Games.

A post shared by Noah Factor (@noahfactor)

Factor said in the early 1990s, the culture was less accepted.

"It was a tight-knit group of outsiders," he said of the community he grew up in.

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The popularity of skateboarding hasn't changed the way Factor experiences it, he says.

"We have a really driving skateboard scene and we made it happen," he said. "In Minneapolis, we build these private, indoor spots because it gets super cold in the winter."

A post shared by Noah Factor (@noahfactor)

Factor said for him, skateboarding is an individual activity.

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"That's what drew a lot of us to it - we didn't want to be a part of the soccer team or the football team," he said. "We wanted to do our own thing and have the freedom to express ourselves on the skateboards."

At the same time, Factor said he thinks that whether or not skateboarding is popular and part of the Olympics doesn't really matter.

"Things that are awesome and radical are meant to be shared," he added.

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Like Barratt, Factor said he skates because of the way it makes him feel.

"It fires something inside you that makes you passionate about it," he said.

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