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SALT LAKE CITY – Visit any skatepark and you can tell who’s been spending time practicing.
They just stand out from the crowd.
“We’re just having fun. That’s what it’s about,” said Alex Heffron, who was skating with his friends at the Kearns skatepark Tuesday afternoon.
It’s a lot more fun when you can land some tricks, which Heffron has become pretty good at.
“It’s just the adrenaline. I don’t know, if you don’t land, it hurts,” Heffron said with a laugh.
He’s had some bumps and bruises over the years, but he never figured all those falls to try and get better could lead to Olympic gold.
“That’s crazy to think about,” he said. “Because you have, like, the 1980’s where it’s really getting popular and you even have the nose of the board, it was just flat, and now they’re doing Olympics?”
The sport has come a long way since those early years.
Soon, in Salt Lake City, it’s going to go even further.
“That’s correct. We’re talking Olympic caliber skateboarding,” said Larry Mullenax.
Mullenax is the executive director of the Utah State Fair Corporation and says this Friday, construction will begin at the Utah State Fairpark to build North America’s first Olympic-level skateboard park.
“So the average park will be four to six foot as a drop in and this will be, at points, a twelve-foot drop in into the pool,” said Mullenax.
Not only will it host world-class competitions, but Mullenax says it will be open to the public to use.
“It gives us another asset we can deploy to keep us relevant and bring more economic impact to the surrounding area,” said Mullenax.
Skateboarding will be an Olympic sport for the first time in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.
Utah is best known for its Winter Olympic sports, but this new venue will allow an Olympic summer sport to call Salt Lake City home.
“Who knows? Hopefully, we train some Olympians and it becomes another part of our Olympic story here as we move forward in the future,” said Jeff Robbins, director of the Utah Sports Commission.
Heffron likes the idea of skateboarding in the Olympics, just not for him. Especially with Olympic-style skateboarding.
“No. I’m way more casual than that,” he said with a laugh. “One mistake, if you’re not fully confident you’re going to land, you land on your ankle slightly, you’re toast.”
When it comes to skateboarding, no one wants to be toast.