During the Canadian National Open at CJ’s Skatepark, we sat down with Adam Higgins, the Head Coach and Performance Director at Canada Skateboard to talk about the Olympic qualification process.
All photos by Dan Mathieu
Hey Adam, can you tell us a bit about yourself, what is your background?
I was a snowboard coach for about 15 years. I moved into program development and design and helped set up what’s called the Next Gen Snowboard Team at Canada Snowboard to help Canada continue to have the best Slopestyle program in the world.
And what is your role now at Canada Skateboard?
I help the team, help the skaters when they are on the road or at events.
So is there a team announced already?
No, not yet. We have a group of targeted skaters that have been competing at all the qualifiers so when we go on the road I am there, acting as team manager and doing a little bit of coaching here and there if they are interested.
Ok so we are having this conversation at CJ’s Skatepark during the National Open competition. Why would someone want to enter this contest? What can someone get from placing well?
So the way the Olympic qualification process works, there is a ranking list based off of your best 2 events from season 1, which ended in October and then your top 5 events from season 2. Season 2 started in November and it runs until the end of May. Skaters need 5 events in that period process and this event, the National Open, is a direct qualifier and they can count the points they earn towards Olympic ranking. If you win this event, it’s equivalent as finishing 7th at Dew Tour, points wise. So it’s really significant for guys chasing points.
Ok so you are saying you have a group of targeted skateboarders and some of them might make it to the Canadian team. If you make it to the team, are you automatically going to the Olympics?
No. So the way it works is, there will be 20 skaters in total in each event (park, street, women and men) and each country can bring up to 3 skaters per category. So you have to rank well in your country based on those qualification events, and after that you have to be in the top 20 worldwide. Lets say you have 5 Americans in the top 5 spots, only the first 3 will go to the Olympics and then they go down the list.
How many Canadians do you think are gonna make it to the top 20?
Hard to say at this time, men street we’ll likely have 3 skaters there. It all depends on how everyone skates in the next events. It’s gonna be a battle.
For someone that shows up at CJ’s today and its their first qualification event, do they stand a chance at making it to Tokyo 2020?
If they win this contest and they want to go to the rest of the qualification events and they do really well, there is a chance.
It’s still doable?
It’s still doable yeah, if you make a top 5 at one of the bigger events, it’s crazy the way the points go. They are really rewarding the people who make the finals in the qualification events. So if you win here, you might be able to enter a Street League or Dew Tour.
What are the next 5 big events this season?
There is a Street League event in Vegas at the end of March, after that there is a 5 star event in Lima, Peru in April, followed by an event in Tokyo also in April, Dew Tour in Long Beach in May and 2 World Championships, one in London and one in China.
At this point, what kind of support can Canada Skateboard provide to skateboarders who want to enter these contests?
We help them with logistics and we support them at events, but there’s no financial support at this point.
In the long run, what is the mission of Canada Skateboard?
Canada Skateboard’s mission is to support, promote and grow skateboarding in Canada so there’s a lot of different ways to do that, from trying to promote the culture and the benefits and values of being a skateboarder, support grassroots initiatives and events and the long running organization and events in Canada as well as using that competitive and sport platform to build the community. The high performance sports culture in Canada is different then what exists in skateboarding but we are trying to use that and support what’s happening in skateboarding. So not necessarily allow big sport to move in and take over skateboarding but showing big sports how skateboarding makes it work and how we can do it together.