It’s official: Heimana Reynolds, Cory Juneau, Zion Wright, Bryce Wettstein, Brighton Zeuner, and Jordyn Barratt will each be representing USA Skateboarding when Skateboard Park makes its Olympic debut at Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo in August.
Heimana Reynolds, ranked #1 in the world heading into the Olympic Games, was so far ahead in the points race that he sat out Dew Tour Des Moines, the final qualifying event for World Skate’s Olympic quota points, to properly heal from an earlier injury and to let his USA Skateboarding teammates battle it out for slots #2 and #3 for Tokyo.
“My head is in the clouds, to be completely honest,” Reynolds says. “It’s just the most amazing thing to have worked so hard for this and to actually have made the goal of making it to the Olympics. It’s a dream come true to be able to say I’m going to the Olympics to represent my country and represent my island.”
Though he’s the top-ranked skater, Reynolds says he doesn’t feel any additional pressure because of it and knows that the competition will be fierce, including from his own teammates.
“I know there’s all this pressure of the Olympics and trying to get gold and everyone fighting for it, but at the end of the day, it’s still skateboarding,” he says. “The most important thing to me is that this is what we love to do. I want everyone watching to know that skateboarding is frickin’ awesome. It’s more than a competition. It’s more than winning, more than money, more than anything like that. When we go home, whether we get first or last, we can say that we’re skateboarders and we love it. We’re going to get to show a whole new audience what it’s all about.”
Cory Juneau’s 8th place finish in Des Moines was enough to keep him at #2 in the overall points race, following his win at the Oi Stu Open in 2019 and his 2nd place finish at Dew Tour Long Beach in 2019.
And for Zion Wright, a jaw-dropping win in Des Moines launched him all the way from #16 in the World Rankings to #5 overall, and – just barely – into the top-3 cut to make the USA Skateboarding squad for Tokyo.
“There’s been a lot of preparation for this: I’ve been training a bunch and skating every day, and just trying to have fun,” Wright says, acknowledging that the Dew Tour win was his all-or-nothing hail Mary pass to make the Olympics squad. “I’ve been dealing with a lot of injuries in the past and stuff, so now I’m just trying to avoid that and stay healthy and strong so I can keep doing this.”
Wright says the reality that he’d be repping Team USA hit him right away after his final run in Des Moines, as USA Skateboarding CEO Josh Friedberg handed him an American flag to confirm he’d made the cut in the points race. On his way to the podium presentation, Wright held the flag above his head, skating fast to fly it for the fans in Iowa before wrapping himself in it on the podium.
“Team USA! It feels good. I’ve got them on my back, so we’re going.”
Dew Tour also played a pivotal role for many of the other skaters now on their way to the Olympics: Brazilians Pedro Barros and Luiz Francisco went 1 and 2 at Dew Tour Long Beach 2019. Francisco heads to Tokyo ranked #3 in the world, and Barros is #4. Australia’s Keegan Palmer, now ranked #7 in the world, finished 3rd at Dew Tour Long Beach 2019. Sweden’s Oskar Rozenberg, ranked #9 in the world, took 2nd behind Zion Wright in Des Moines. Joining them for the field of 20 in Tokyo: Pedro Quintas (BRA), Ivan Federico (ITA), Steven Piniero (PUR), Alessandro Mazzara (ITA), Vincent Matheron (FRA), Jaime Mateu (ESP), Kieran Woolley (AUS), Ayumu Hirano (JPN), Tyler Edtmayer(GER), Danny Leon (ESP), Andy Anderson (CAN), Rune Glifberg (DEN), and Dallas Oberholzer (RSA).
For Women’s Skateboard Park in Tokyo, the home team will be the favorites: Misugo Okamoto’s win at Dew Tour Long Beach 2019 kicked off a streak of winning every major international competition on the World Skate calendar uninterrupted until her 3rd place finish in Des Moines, behind Sakura Yosozumi and (representing Great Britain) 12-year old Sky Brown. Yosozumi is now ranked #2 in the world. Kokona Hiraki, now #6 in the world after her 5th place finish in Des Moines, will round out the three-woman Japanese team for Women’s Park.
Three Americans will be in the mix in Tokyo, with Bryce Wettstein (6th at Dew Tour in both 2019 and 2021) leading the charge. Brighton Zeuner missed the final at both Dew Tour events in the World Skate points mix in 2019 and 2021 but finished 4th at the 2021 USA Skateboarding Nationals and the 2020 Oi Stu Open in Rio de Janeiro, earning enough points to secure the 2nd spot for USA Skateboarding. Making the final in Des Moines clinched the coveted 3rd spot for Jordyn Barratt.
“I definitely had a lot of pressure coming into Dew Tour because it was down to the wire, but I felt like I was mentally ready for it, and I think that’s what helped me get through everything,” Barratt says. “The relief, knowing that I was able to do it, was the best feeling ever. It’s so crazy to me that I made it.”
Barratt says she’s especially excited to be headed to Tokyo with Bryce Wettstein and Brighton Zeuner: the trio has essentially grown up together in skateboarding. All three lived in Encinitas, California, as their careers were taking off, and Bryce and Jordyn even went to the same high school. “All three of us have been pushing each other since we were young, and we’re still doing that: it’s really cool to have those friendships from so long ago and now to be where we are now.”
She goes back even further with Heimana Reynolds, leading the men’s field: they both lived on Oahu in Hawaii before Barratt’s family moved to California. Reynolds made the same move in 2019.
“Heimana and I have known each other since we were super young kids, since we were babies, basically, and I’m so stoked for him and that we’ll both be able to represent both USA and Hawaii,” Barratt says. “Cory Juneau is always so good and so fun to watch, and Zion’s performance in Des Moines was such a Cinderella story, just truly incredible because he brings so much positive energy to everything. It’s super exciting and new to have skateboarding coming to the Olympics, and I feel super grateful and humbled and honored to be a part of it now that it’s happening. It’s mind-blowing for sure.”
Barratt says the Japanese skaters at the top of the field are among her favorites, regardless of what flag they’ll be representing at the Olympics.
“The Japanese skaters are so gnarly, so fun to watch, and super inspiring: they’ve really come in super fast and pushed women’s skateboarding to a completely new level,” she says. “It’s been really cool to watch and be inspired by and be pushed by what they’re doing. The field of the 20 girls going to the Olympics are all super cool and amazing skaters. I’m super stoked to be in Japan and be able to compete with them.”
The 20 women headed to Tokyo: Misugu Okamoto (JPN), Sakura Yosozumi (JPN), Sky Brown (GBR), Poppy Starr Olsen (AUS), Lizzie Armanto (FIN), Kokona Hiraki (JPN), Bryce Wettstein (USA), Dora Varella (BRA), Isadora Rodrigues Pacheco (BRA), Brighton Zeuner (USA), Jordyn Barratt (USA), Yndiara Asp (BRA), Julia Benedetti (ESP), Lily Stoephasius (GER), Xin Zhang (CHN), Madeline Larcheron (FRA), Amelia Brodka (POL), Josefina Tapia Varas (CHI), Bombette Martin (GBR), Melissa Williams (RSA).
Though she’s obviously aiming for medals, Barratt says she has higher priorities as she prepares for Tokyo.
“The thing I’m most excited about is the chance to show the world women’s skateboarding,” she says. “I think it’s really cool that women and girls around the world will be watching and will be inspired, thinking, ‘Wow, they look like they’re having a really good time.’ It’s going to bring a whole new light to women’s skateboarding that I’m really excited for.”
NBC’s broadcast of Women’s Park Qualification begins August 3 at 4 pm PDT, followed by the final at 7:30 pm PDT. Men’s Park Qualification begins August 4 at 4 pm EDT, followed by the final at 7:30 PDT. For the full schedule of Olympic Skateboarding events, visit www.nbcolympics.com/schedule/sport/skateboarding