Los Angeles Times

Skateboarding in 2020 Olympics? It's very possible

For the past 10 years, Gary Ream has been behind the scenes preparing if ever skateboarding becomes an Olympic sport.

During that time, the International Skateboarding Federation president has learned brutal, yet hopeful truth that he shared with those in attendance of the International Assn. of Skateboarding Companies Summit Thursday morning at the Westin South Coast Hotel.

"If I would've known how long it would take [for skateboarding to become an Olympic sport], I would've told them all where to go," Ream said. "But time develops trust."

Time has also brought about change within the leading determining factor: the International Olympic Committee.

Ream has found an ally, or "one of us," as he likes to describe the IOC's newest sports director, Christophe Dubi.

When it comes to skateboarding in the Olympics and "doing it right," Dubi, "gets it," Ream said.

Ream's intriguing presentation of "Skateboarding Toward the Olympics," was part of the three-day Skateboarding Summit at the Westin, where the industry's leaders like Ream came together to learn and broaden their perspectives.

Ream let everyone know skateboarding is not lusting to be in the Olympics, but he is well aware the impact the sport can have on the Summer Games and the potential boost in popularity skateboarding can gain.

Ream believes with Dubi on board, skateboarding has a great chance to be in the 2020 Tokyo Games. Dubi's son is a skateboarder, Ream said, and Dubi understands the great relevance the sport has on youth.

"Kids are not watching the Olympics," Ream said. "We need to change that."

The idea of skateboarding becoming an Olympic sport is gaining steam and taking steps toward becoming reality, Ream said. He provided an example, as a skateboarding demonstration and training session will take place at the Youth Olympic Games Aug. 16-28 in Nanjing, China. Perhaps more important, a high performance skate park will remain at the site for the youth.

Ream expressed excitement about the demonstration because he said IOC members, including the veterans, or as Ream calls them, "old trees," will be present.

"It'll be an opportunity to show them how different and unique [skateboarding] is," Ream said.

While there is belief skateboarding will eventually become an Olympic sport, there are big challenges, Ream said.

How can a sport that encourages such freedom become an organized Olympic event?

Will the sport's vibrant, down-to-earth culture continue to be stressed while it's in the Olympics?

What will be the disciplines of the sport in the Olympics?

How will skateboarding be judged?

Some of those questions were among those asked during Ream's session, that lasted about an hour.

Ream, the director of the successful Camp Woodward in Pennsylvania, provided the answers with credibility that comes from his background and his work with the IOC. His friendly relationship with Dubi also provided hope for skateboarding in the Olympics.

Ream's ideas were helpful in answering the questions.

He wants skateboarding's top five judges, top 10 skaters, and top 10 industry leaders to weigh in on what disciplines should be featured. Those people, when the time comes, will also determine the rules.

The actual judges? Ream wants them to be no older than 40.

Ream also mentioned snowboarding's success in the Winter Games and how that provides hope for skateboarding.

But the key will be making the IOC believe, Ream said.

"Some of the biggest assets for skateboarding is the biggest detriment when it comes to the old trees," Ream said.

Still, Ream believes skateboarding will become an Olympic sport, probably in 2020.

"We're going to shock the globe," Ream said. "It's going to be crazy."

The IASC Summit ends Friday in Costa Mesa with keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author, as well as a self-trained wine and social media expert.

The Skateboarding Hall of Fame and Icon Awards ceremony took place Thursday night. The 2014 inductees include: Gregg Carroll, Jim Muir, Steve Olson, Lance Mountain, Natas Kaupas, Laurie Turner DeMott and Ellen Oneal Deason.

The summit also features a Vans Pool Party, at Vans Skatepark in Orange Saturday from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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