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Calendar >  Training the World’s Olympiads: Olympic Hopefuls Flocking To Skateboard Facility

Training the World’s Olympiads: Olympic Hopefuls Flocking To Skateboard Facility

By   /  March 9, 2020  /  1 Comment

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Training the World’s Olympiads: Many Olympic Hopefuls and Amateur Athletes Flocking to First-Time Vista Skateboard Training Facility
Skateboard Story
Entrance to California Training Facility

Vista. CA –From its award-winning breweries to a growing arts and film community and historic downtown, Vista continues to attract visitors from all over globe while also catering to residents and local businesses alike. The thriving City is also home to many innovators and creators, from software startups to biotech and manufacturing firms, defense & aerospace companies, and even distilleries and organic farms. Now, Vista has another international attraction – a world-class Olympic training facility. 

 The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is just a few months away and this year, for the first time ever, skateboarding will be an Olympic event. The two events in both men’s and women’s sports will be Park Skate, which takes place in a bowl shaped pool that skaters ride like ramps, completing tricks in the air and at the deck of the pool, and Street Skate where competitors use a “street-like” course complete with ramps, rails, stairs, curbs, and slopes.

Park Skate
Street Skate
Images of the Park Skate and Street Skate areas at California Training Facility in Vista

 Olympic hopefuls from around the world are training for these events at California Training Facility (CA|TF) in Vista. This indoor skate facility was designed by California Skateparks and run by California Productions, which will also be creating the parks for the Olympics in Tokyo. 

 “We are training the world’s Olympiads,” said Nicole Harper, CA|TF Operations Director.

“Southern California is a hotbed for pro skateboarders to live – and North County San Diego is probably the most concentrated hub.”

 CA|TF opened in Vista in 2019 because it is such a central location for skateboarding and the skating world. Skateboard manufacturers, companies, and sports media surround the area as well as the Tony Hawk Foundation. Called the “Hub” in the skateboarding world, this facility in Vista has become a destination stop for skating teams to come and practice between world tours. 

 “North County is a hub for many park skaters,” agreed Lincoln Ueda who is a professional skater and CA|TF’s Director of the Coaching and Development Program. He believes Vista is the epicenter of this hub. “In the radius, Tony Hawk has an office two blocks away, and there are parks and ramps nearby. Vista has always been a place to come for the majority of pro skaters. They all live around here and it’s a central location.” 

 Many teams even stay in Vista hotels and visit area restaurants when they train at CA|TF before they head to other cities on the global tour circuit. 

 Paola Orozco, Sales Manager at Hyatt Place in Vista, Brazil’s national team has stayed at the hotel. Orozco said they are a wonderful team. “They stayed over two weeks with us while they were training at the CA|TF in December 2019. I always keep in touch with the the training facility’s coaches and Nicole Harper,” she said, adding that international teams are welcomed to stay last-minute at Hyatt Place. 

Lincoln Ueda
Professional skater and CA|TF’s Director of Coaching and Development Lincoln Ueda

 These elite athletes come to CA|TF because, as Ueda said, “California Skateparks has built so many parks around the world and this place has all the features.” 

 He added, “We have the blueprint for the Olympic parks. The street skate area is based on the Street League contest,” a major event for street skateboarding. 

 Aside from the Elite members, CA|TF is also well known among up and coming skaters and many are flocking to the first-time Vista facility to learn from the best.

 “The skaters know this place is here, so they come by,” said Ueda. “I even had a kid come here from Brazil.” 

 Ueda – who will also be the head judge at the Olympic Games – knows and works with many of the elite skaters and Olympic hopefuls who train at CA|TF. He is also excited about the development program that CA|TF is building for future Olympic hopefuls.

 “The program has been going for almost two years now.” he said. “We have kids from as young as 5-to-18. Some of them have never stepped on a skateboard, some are just learning to push and ride their skateboard, while others can do tricks like ‘ollies.’ 

 The program divides skateboarders from age range and skills level. When new skaters join, they tryout and are sorted according to their knowledge. Skaters are divided into groups of six in each level. As they develop in the program, they begin to learn tricks. The program also prepares them for contests if they want to compete. Young skaters are taught moves that work in competition and are given an understanding of the guidelines associated with skate contests. 

 “We help give them advice on how to structure their lines, the competition lines, and the obstacles that are important,” said Ueda. 

 The coaches at CA|TF are all professional skateboarders who understand this drive and can share that feeling with the young skaters they are training. “All our coaches have been wanting that same dream, they have competed to be the best, Harper said. “Now that skating is in the Olympics, it’s still the same drive. We are here to help that student accomplish his or her goals and dreams through hard work and dedication to the sport. “As long as the student has a passion for skating and the drive to want it, we are here to help them get to their goals. Just like any other sport, you need to work for it.”

 Ueda believes this is a great place to learn because the atmosphere of CA|TF feeds that. The ameteur skaters get to interact with the professionals. “When certain kids or the pros skate together, they interact and have fun and challenge each other -that’s how they progress more.”

 Ueda said young girls come out to learn in almost equal numbers to the boys since skateboarding is really a co-ed sport.  

 Professional skater and Olympic hopeful Amelia Brodka agreed. Brodka is training at CA|TF in hopes of gaining a spot on the Polish Olympic team. She moved to Vista to train at CA|TF and sees the gains women have made in her sport in the last 18 years she has been skating. 

 “It used to be almost impossible to be a pro female. But that has changed night and day. Now we get an equal purse.” In the past women only made 20% of the men’s winnings. Brodka documented the climb of female skaters in her documentary, “Underexposed” and she is a spokesperson for female skateboarding everywhere. 

Amelia Brodka
Professional Skateboarder and Olympic hopeful Amelia Brodka

 Brodka feels having skating in the Olympics will create new opportunities for women and “make a huge difference.”

 Brodka is not the only professional skateboarder training to make an Olympic team. Ueda said Olympic hopefuls are coming from around the world. “So far we have Peru, China, Brazil, Russia, Japan, and Canada training at the facility,” he said.

 The US Olympic Skateboarding Team was announced at the end of 2019 – 18 hopefuls split evenly among men and women, in park and street, will compete to qualify for the tops spots in Tokyo.  

 Many of these American hopefuls train at CA|TF, including, for the men – Heimana Reynolds, Tom Schaar, and Jagger Eaton and for the women – Minna Stess, Jordyn Barratt and Bryce Wettstein, who currently ranks #1 in the Olympics rankings.

 As a judge, Ueda said they are looking for the overall impression of the 40-second performance. This includes use of the park, difficulty of tricks, style, altitude, speed, and consistency. “The run has to look good and use all the obstacles that are in the park. It has to bring all those elements into it.” 

 This is another reason why the Vista training facility is important to skateboarders training for the Olympics. Brian Harper, Senior Vice President of California Skateparks, Snowpark Technologies and California Productions, is in charge of designing and building these parks. Harper, a lifelong skateboarder and professional snowboarder, began building ramps at Point X Camp – an action sports camp for skateboarding, BMX and motocross. This led to a partnership with California Skateparks. He has worked on over 300 permanent skateparks worldwide as well as the temporary skateparks used at X GamesDew TourVan Park Series, Street League skateboarding, and Nitro Circus. Many of these series’ host the qualifying events that lead up to the Olympics. Harper, a Vista resident, is also the designer for the 2020 Olympic skateboarding events. 

 Harper’s offices are at CA|TF and many skaters come because they know they will be skating in the best of the best. CA|TF’s motto is “where the best come to get better.”

 For the City of Vista, CA|TF further illustrates the City’s commitment to innovative and creative businesses. 

 “We are thrilled to have the epicenter of skateboarding in Vista, and CA|TF celebrates the Vista history of this culture and gives the sport a home,” said Kevin Ham, Director of Economic Development for the City of Vista. “Not only is the facility attracting Olympic hopefuls and amateur skateboarders from all over the world, it is also introducing them to Vista’s other innovative and creative communities, such as the City’s film industrybreweries, crafters, and biotech startups.

 Ham added, “We wish all the Olympic hopefuls the best of luck in Tokyo.”

Economic Development contact for the City of Vista:

Kevin Ham
Economic Development Director
kham@cityofvista.com

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1 Comment

  1. Miller says:

    As we are approaching fast to Summer Olympics, skateboarding enthusiasts becoming more excited about the event. Being a skater, I am anxiously waiting for Olympics to catch all the action.

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