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Skateboarding Odds: Future Stars Growing Brighter by the Day

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in News

Updated Apr 14, 2020 · 12:20 PM PDT

Skateboarding youngster
Photo: public domain.

The sport of skateboarding has always served up its share of youth. Tony Hawk went pro at 14; Rob Dyrdek and Rodney Mullen both got their first sponsors at 12; and Vanessa Torres was a mere 17 when she won the first women’s skateboarding gold at the X-Games in 2003. As the progenitors of the sport continue to age (Hawk is nearing 50!) and ebb from the competitive side of skateboarding, their places at the pinnacle have been filled by a new batch of immensely talented, younger skaters like Nyjah Huston (22), Pamela Rosa (17), and Pedro Barros (21).

Just like any sport, the Hustons and Rosas of the world will soon feel more precocious youngsters nipping at their heels, eager to usurp the throne. Just like any sport, the passing of the torch — willing or unwilling — is inevitable. Predicting who’s going to dominate competitions years down the line is a difficult endeavor; that person is probably still in diapers at this point.

That said, there are several bambinos already getting some attention for their work on a board. And one thing you can be sure of is the generation to come will continue to grow the sport (which was just added to the 2020 Olympics) and take tricks to new heights, both literally and figuratively. Remember, it was a 12-year-old Tom Schaar who landed the first 1080.

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Who are heirs apparent in the skateboarding world? Which relative neophytes will stake their claims as the next big thing in the sport? Let’s peruse the nursery.

Poppy Starr Olsen (age 16)

I’ll admit that listing Poppy Star Olsen is kind of cheating. She’s already a star, with wins at the El Gato Classic and Vans Combi Pool Classic on her resume. But at just 16, she’s poised to become a truly dominant player on the scene. According to the Daily Mail, Olsen is eager to represent Australia at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. As the first Australian woman to ever be invited to the X-Games, her place on the national team-to-be is all but a guarantee. The main question at this point is whether she’ll become the first skateboarding gold medalist! The games are still years away, and new stars are going to emerge in that time (plus existing stars like Pamela Rosa, who’s just a year older, will still be at their peak), so the odds aren’t great. But if I had to pick someone now, it might be her.

Odds Poppy Starr Olsen wins gold at the 2020 Olympics: 8/1

Brighton Zeuner (age 11)

Brighton Zeuner is one of the people who could wind up challenging Olsen for gold in Tokyo. She’s five years junior to Olsen and doesn’t have the same resume at this point in her career (if you can call it that for an 11-year-old). But she’s already been an X-Games competitor (the youngest ever), took fourth at the 2016 Combi Pool Classic, and has a few years to take her skating to the next level. As an American, she faces a stiffer test in making the Olympic team. I’d bank on her being in Tokyo, though.

Odds Brighton Zeuner is on the 2020 US Olympic team: 5/6

Ethan Copeland (age 10)

Another Australian, Ethan Copeland became the youngest competitor in the history of the prestigious Bondi Bowl-a-rama this year. That earned him the right to skate alongside legends of the sport and the current upper-crust: Tony Hawk,

Copeland isn’t quite hitting 1080s like that old man Tom Schaar. (He’s still trying to master 540s, he told to the Sydney Morning Herald.) But he’s dead-set on being a pro and has X-Games gold squarely in his crosshairs. The X-Games are hypercompetitive for skateboarders and always feature the best of the best, so it’s not a given that he’ll achieve his goal. He’s got about thirty years to try, though.

Odds Ethan Copeland ever wins gold at the X-Games: 1/1

Sky Brown (age 8)

Geez, just when you think they can’t get any younger. Sky Brown won’t be able to get a driver’s license for another eight years – literally her entire life over again – yet is already competing against the best of the best in skateboarding. The Japanese wunderkind became the youngest competitor in the history of the Vans US Open Pro Tour this year. She didn’t win … because she’s eight … but I bet she does in the years to come. It’s more a question of when. 

Odds Sky Brown wins a Vans US Open Pro Tour event in the next five years: 2/1

Not to be outdone, her five-year-old brother Ocean can already do stuff like this: (I’m pretty sure I regularly fell on my way to kindergarten when I was five. And I don’t mean on a skateboard.)


Featured image: public domain.

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