Saturday morning. It’s premiere day at the TAZ, which hosts the first skateboarding competition as part of the Montreal Games. When you set foot in the gigantic indoor skatepark, you have the impression of entering another world. As if time stood still. All that matters is riding!
Posted at 6:50 p.m.
This is the first time that skateboarding has been integrated into the Montreal Games since the creation of the event in 1978. And it is the TAZ which is in charge of organizing the competition. A certain excitement floats in the air of the skateboard park located north of Papineau Avenue in Montreal.
“We are proud! says Ghyslain Gingras, the operations manager. “We pushed, democratized the sport. We are less seen as bums and we become a truly recognized discipline. »
The delegations arrive approximately 45 minutes before the start of the competition, scheduled for 1 p.m. Everywhere we look, young people aged 6 to 12 are rolling on their boards. They practice the tricks they intend to present to the judges.
Several also simply came to spend their Saturday at the TAZ. Like this little girl as tall as three apples, proudly dressed in her pink skirt, concentrating on driving her scooter on the roulodrome.
The ambassador of the Montreal Games skateboarding competition, professional skateboarder Jessy Jean Bart, is one of the first on site. He meets young people, has fun with them on the modules and ramps. His smile is as bright as that of the dozens, even hundreds, of young people present.
“It’s amazing,” he said to The Press. For real, it’s everything I would have dreamed of when I was kid. When I started, there weren’t a lot of youth competitions, not a lot of skateparks. To see how much it has evolved is really touching. »
Éli Grenier-Cartier, from the Verdun delegation, is present for the competition. He is 11 years old, but he has been skateboarding for several years already. This is his first competition. ” [Je suis] stress ! Very stressed! he says in all his candor.
When he learned that skateboarding was making its debut at the Games, Eli wanted to be part of the first cohort of young athletes to take part. ” I hope [gagner] ! But I saw a lot of people who were really good, so it makes me doubt. At worst, I’m having fun! »
“All the basics to move forward in life”
Resilience. Transcendence. Discipline. Socialization. Team spirit. Courage. Humility. Determination. So many words listed by stakeholders, parents and coaches when asked what skateboarding brings to young people.
“I believe that skateboarding has long been seen as something delinquent, explains Jessy Jean Bart. It was not part of the school systems like sport-studies. The fact that it was incorporated into the Olympics [en 2021], it really propelled the sport. »
The 34-year-old athlete, who has been a professional for six years, gets involved with young people whenever he gets the chance. He wants to guide them and help ensure that the sport is well seen in schools so that it develops even more across Quebec. He also offers his Sparrow Sessionsinclusive skateboarding sessions for young people of all backgrounds.
“Skateboarding gives these young people all the bases to move forward in life, regardless of what their passion will be in the future,” he says.
Ghyslain Gingras, who has worked for the TAZ for ten years, underlines all the efforts devoted to the family aspect in recent years in order to democratize the sport. Parent-child courses are also offered.
“Today the father comes ride the week and comes back with his guy on the weekends, he says. We create a succession in the sport in this way. »
Luc Otter, 52, is one of the skateboard coaches of the Ville-Marie delegation for the Montreal Games. Among his youth group is Lily Otter-Koller, his 10-year-old daughter. The two have been playing the sport together for several years. The father is even involved in his daughter’s school in order to introduce skateboarding to as many young people as possible.
“In the summer, we go [au skatepark] almost every weekend! launches Lily, not very nervous in view of her second competition in life.
“She loves it,” her father said. She has zero stress. She has a lot of composure, I would like to be like her! »
The duo trains all over Montreal. And sometimes even in California, where he has family.
“It makes us feel good, we have fun, suggests Mr. Otter. Lily is very active. She needs to move. When she doesn’t move, it’s not okay. With skateboarding, she brings out a lot of energy in a short time. Besides, it’s very difficult. When you achieve something, you are proud of yourself. You can’t cheat, pretend. »