On board with skate legend Chris Cole
From winning global titles to starring in multi-million dollar video games, Chris Cole has been a prominent figure in the world of professional skateboarding for more than 15 years. Here, he gives an insight into just what fans can expect at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
"Skateboarding is creativity, it's self-motivating, it keeps you hyped," said five-time X Games gold medallist Cole. "It keeps your focus and drives you day-in, day-out on to a positive life."
It is a fairly convincing argument from a man who embodies the sport like few others.
Given all this, it is perhaps no surprise that Cole views his chosen sport as a lifestyle as much as a competitive contest. He does see the addition of skateboarding to the Olympic programme as the logical next step, for both sides.
"It is the natural progression for skateboarding and the Olympics," Cole said. "Neither can go back but must move forwards in a positive direction that captures more of an audience and creates a bigger fan base."
The fans will get to see both Street and Park skateboarding in 2020, with Park featuring transitional concrete courses from five to ten feet deep with design features such as spines, angled hips, extensions, escalators, set-back walls, elevation changes, gaps, transfers and variable grinding surfaces. Street is contested on custom concrete skate plazas featuring elements skateboarders come across in urban environments all over the world including stair sets, handrails, banks, benches, ledges and gaps framed out with transitional elements to help maintain speed and flow.
"Street utilises what 90% of towns possess, it is what is available to you at any time," explained Cole, who was the 2013 Street League Super Crown world champion.
For the street skaters it is all about using the typical urban topography of steps, rails, ledges and gaps to showcase their immense skills.
Although plenty of elite-level skateboarders ride Street and Park, most choose to specialise in one or the other for competition.
"I think very few can master their playing field so much to actually beat out the animals in each division," said Cole, when asked if he could envisage one skater winning both gold medals at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
For the uninitiated, half-an-hour trawling through Street and Park videos on YouTube is highly rewarding. In fact, making and starring in skate videos has been, and continues to be, a huge part of Cole's life – as it is for most elite-level riders.
"Skateboarding is a part of each skater as much as their childhood memories and upbringing are," said the man who turned pro aged 20 in 2002. The now 35-year-old knows that some of his fellow competitors, especially the younger ones, are likely to "bring new tricks" at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. But Cole emphasises that his sport will always be about more than who occupies the podium places at the end of a contest.
"Creativity will remain a drive with or without competition," said the man whose website is emblazoned with the motto 'Live rad die proud'. "Regret is worse than most things. If it's true that your life flashes before your eyes when you die, I want the show to kick-start my eternal dream state into a great place."