Inspired Montreal skaters hoping to grind their way to the Olympics
MONTREAL -- Max Boucher takes skateboarding seriously.
He's been riding for years, even though he is only 13 years old.
Lately, he also has a keen interest in the Olympic Games because Women’s Street Skateboarding has made its debut in Tokyo.
When Japanese skateboarder Momiji Nishiya won gold in the women's finals, Max was watching.
“It was really cool," he said. "She did like really hard tricks and she's like super-young too, she's my age. I'm super impressed, it was really fun to watch.”
One of the 20 best women's street skateboarders in the world is Montrealer Annie Guglia.
She was a last-minute addition to the Olympic roster and did well, but didn't medal.
Even so, she is there at the games and making history. Annie first picked up a board 20 years ago and has inspired many women to try it, like Sylvie at the Verdun skate park.
“She's so amazing and so cool. You go, girl!” she said.
Betty Esperanza knows skateboarding and runs the foundation Skateboards For Hope.
“These girls are doing amazing," she said. "I'm floored especially Annie Guglia who got there last minute and her story is insane, she deserves to be there. and she's our Canadian representative.”
Skateboards For Hope has been advocating for youth on boards for years. The Olympics, she said, gives the sport credibility.
“(It) gives it respect, real respect that it deserves," said Esperanza. "It's a really hard sport and it deserves to be at the Olympics.”
She added that skateboarding is accessible and often attracts young people.
“It's a very democratic sport," she said. "One of the great things is that it's very inclusive and you don't really need a skate park.”
Her foundation wants to allow children to play and be creative, using skateboarding as a tool. If they discover a passion for the sport, her goal is complete.
From parks and pavement to the podium, skateboarding has gone from an outlier sport to the Olympic games. Max says watching the events energized him.
“I watched it and I was like, 'I wanna go right now to go skateboarding, I wanna go right now,'” he said with a laugh.
“This is the first year, it's not the end, it's just the beginning,” said Sylvie.