TORONTO (June 11, 2021) - Canada Skateboard and the Canadian Olympic Committee announced Canada’s first-ever Olympic skateboard team on Friday as three athletes were nominated to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Andy Anderson, Matt Berger and Micky Papa qualified for Team Canada based on their top performances throughout the World Skate Qualification Tour that began in London, England in May 2019. The three British Columbia natives finalized their rankings at the Dew Tour in Des Moines, Iowa, which took place in May 2021 and the Street Skateboard World Championships which were held in June 2021 in Rome, Italy.
“The announcement of Canada's first Olympic Skateboard team is a welcomed milestone in the rich history of skateboarding in our country," said Ben Stoddard, President of Canada Skateboard. "Andy, Matt and Micky have earned their place on the global stage by skating with class and individuality. We are so proud of their groundbreaking journeys and eager to watch them shine in Tokyo.”
Skateboarding will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games, and will feature 80 athletes from 24 different countries. Men and women will each compete in park and street events and each event will include 20 competitors.
“The process to qualify for the Olympic Skateboard Team has been long and gruelling, not to mention the delay caused by the pandemic,” said Canada Skateboard Head Coach Adam Higgins. “The final two events have really helped prepare us for Tokyo. With no events in over a year, coming back to competition and battling it out through weather delays, logistical trouble and dealing with all the COVID-19 hurdles, these skaters have proved to the world that they belong in Tokyo.”
Anderson won the inaugural Canadian park title in 2020, and competed at the SLS World Skate Championships in 2018 and 2019. At the 2021 Dew Tour, the final event integral for Tokyo 2020 qualification, he fell hard during a practice run before the park semifinals and tore his meniscus. Despite the injury, he landed a varial heelflip lien air and secured an 11th-place finish, which moved him into the top- 30 of the world rankings for park, qualifying him to skateboarding's Olympic debut.
Berger made his X Games debut in 2015, where he finished in the top-10 in street competition. Following knee surgery at the end of 2015, which forced him to miss the entire 2016 season, he posted his best result at an SLS Tour stop, placing fifth at the 2017 Pro Open. A second knee surgery, which required 10 months of rehab, forced him off the tour again, but he returned in late 2018 to skate at the SLS World Championships in Rio. His strong competitive career solidified a spot to compete for Canada in the Olympic Qualification Tour. Throughout this process Berger was a staple in the finals, finishing 6th at the 2019 London Street League Event, and narrowly missing the podium by 0.1 of a point at the 2019 Dew Tour. He finished sixth at the 2021 Street Skateboard World Championships.
“It’s an honour to be representing the country that shaped me to be who I am, doing what I love to do!" said Matt Berger, the Canadian Street Skateboarding champion. Berger won the title in March of 2020.
Papa began competing in major amateur contests in 2006, and made his X Games debut in 2016, finishing 12th. His World Championships debut came in 2019, where he reached the semifinals in the street event. In his only event of 2020, Papa finished seventh at the inaugural Canadian Nationals. In 2021, he secured his spot on the Olympic team with an eighth place showing at the World Championships in Rome Italy, following a strong performance throughout the qualification tour. Papa has roots in Italy, and felt a strong connection to the venue, following the semi finals where he solidified his place in the finals and met the qualification for Tokyo, he shared the following statement:
“I come from an Italian family and my Nonna (grandma) raised me since I was about 12. She was the strongest woman I’ve ever met. She gave me an opportunity to have the life I have today. Without her I have no idea where I would be. Right before the world championships in Rome she passed away at 93. When I arrived in Italy I felt like I had her strength with me and I knew that something was different. I guess even in passing she’s still watching out for that same kid that moved in with her at 12 years old.”
Tokyo 2020 street competitions take place on a straight course that includes stairs, handrails, curbs, benches, walls, and slopes. One competitor takes to the course at a time, using the features to showcase their range of skills. In each round, riders will perform two 45-second runs with five individually-scored tricks.
Park competitions are held on a hollowed-out course with a series of complicated curves. From the bottom, the curved surfaces rise steeply with the upper part of the incline as close to vertical as possible. Spectators of park skateboarding are wowed by the incredible heights riders achieve by climbing the curves at great speed and performing awesome mid-air tricks. In each round, riders perform runs of 40 to 60 seconds which are scored by a panel of five judges on a scale of 0 to 100.00.
"Just before the pandemic shut down competitions and sent us home, I was able to go to the Canadian Skateboard Nationals. I’d seen skateboarders casually, but it was incredible to see these athletes focused on their competition and get a sense of their sport culture," said Team Canada's Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission, Marnie McBean. "Their cooperative spirit mixed with a competitive desire to nail the next trick was great to see - and I’m glad my daughter got a chance to see it too. I was sorry to see that our women just missed out on qualifying spots, but it’s going to be so exciting to see Andy, Matt and Micky introduce Skateboarding (Park and Street) to a wider Canadian audience."
Canada will compete in the men's street events on July 25 (Days 2), followed by the men's park events on August 5 (Days 13), at the Ariake Urban Sports Park. Canadian audience."
The athletes and coaches nominated are:
Andy Anderson (White Rock, B.C.) - Men’s Park
Matt Berger (Kamloops, B.C.) - Men’s Street
Micky Papa (Vancouver, B.C.) - Men’s Street
Adam Higgins (Squamish, B.C.) - Head Coach
Sean Hayes (Tsawwssen, B.C.) - Coach
Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organisations.