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Poppy Starr Olsen set for Olympics



On an orange afternoon recently, with the smoke of fires hanging over the city, two young women stamp skateboards around the old part of Newcastle, Australia and get glances.

The younger is professional skateboarder Poppy Starr Olsen, 19, grinding on the post office stairs, which have been refined to silver blades. A man walks by and blushes as the beagle barks and pulls his lead. The couple does not notice or is not interested.

“Oh, sick! You are so close! “

Her friend was filmed on video by 21-year-old Una Farrar, a Canadian professional in Australia for several weeks. Olsen overtook Farrar during the world tour, but in this kind of thing, Farrar’s “street” style, the Canadian is the one who gives advice.

“You should have been there when the guard said we couldn’t skate at the university,” Farrar said. “She told us she was a skateboarder. I think she was somehow on our side. ”

In fun, when the point is to respond to the urban world around you, where the instinct evoked by a ramp, rail, or empty square is “we have to try this,” Olsen says small evictions are a fact of life.


“Sometimes the police tell you to move on,” she said. “A lot of them say, ‘There’s a skate park for that.'”

Poppy Star Olsen

Poppy Star Olsen

Poppy Star Olsen

Newcastle police, security, and dog walkers are unlikely to realize they can witness one of Australia’s next Olympians.

When the sport features swimming and athletics at the Tokyo 2020 Games, Olsen is set to represent his country in its park discipline – and win a medal in the conversation. The inclusion of sports has shifted the laser focus to a lifestyle that Olsen has had since the age of eight.

“I never thought I would have a chance to be an Olympian. As a sport, we will go now and it is really new and exciting for many people, “she said. “It’s really a goal now, to be able to say you were one of the first.”

In the Olympic qualifiers, Olsen finished fourth in the Park and was buffered with more than 55,000 points against skateboarders outside the world’s top 20. She is a double world titleholder and with four major events left this season, it will take a disaster to ruin her trip to Tokyo.

Being in the Olympic orbit brought a change in Olsen’s life. Her sponsorship with clothing company Vans was recently complemented by a scholarship from the NSW Sports Institute, providing formal training, physiotherapy, strength, and fitness, access to sports psychologists, and the opportunity to train in her hometown instead of driving two hours to Sydney.

The skateboarder ranked just above her is currently Sky Brown, the 11-year-old who will become Britain’s youngest summer Olympian. The first two qualifying positions are occupied by the Japanese couple Misugu Okamoto and Sakuru Yosozumi, ready to become stars of their home games. But before the melon grab was thrown in a rage at Tokyo’s Ariake City Sports Park, the impetus for the games was already being felt on the skateboard.

According to Olsen and Farrar on the tour, China’s determination to win medals is believed to have led to unprepared athletes. The presence of some athletes on tour in the United States, Brazil, and their own country has sparked conversations among fellow professionals who believe they have been kidnapped from sports such as gymnastics and martial arts just to be ready for Tokyo.

In response, China played the role of unofficially trained “street skateboarders” in its national team based in Nanjing, where Olsen won bronze at last year’s world titles.

Poppy Star Olsen

Olsen sees the “pros and cons” of the sudden focus of her sport in the world’s most populous nation, such as the lack of cultural bias towards skateboarders. If China goes too far in trying to win medals, the argument is that it will not care if they come from women or men.

But along with her respect for the skills and work of fellow professionals like 27you– ranked Chinese Asta Zhang Xing and Lu Jiai (51st), Olsen finds some things disturbing. It seems too good to be true for competing to qualify for the Olympics with relatively little experience in sports such as skateboarding. A fall on a ramp from Asta Zhang Sin shook Olsen.

“She was knocked out. You learn to fall the right way, it’s just something that comes with doing it all the time and hurting yourself, ”she says. “These girls come in and don’t know how to fall.”

Una Farar

The importance of the fall became clear, first in the rust of the skate park in South Newcastle – the city’s response to the Venetian beach, where Farrar climbed several times to ride a bubble concrete wall, ending bloodied and happy not to “get out” – and then at Bar Beach Skate Park.

The bowl is 25 feet from the sand, surrounded by pines on Norfolk Island and relaxed guys in buckets with hats poured over the steps. Cricket matches are played around the park on a brown field in the summer, tennis balls bounce back and forth, and the sea breeze makes noise from one of the most enviable bowling clubs on the East Coast.

Olsen is wearing a black T-shirt and long black pants, which her mother Thomas says are “covered with dog hair.” She fastens her helmet over her short blond hair and falls into the bowl. The rollers and abrasions on her wheels get stronger as her ride widens, and when she falls to her knees, she slides and gets up. The fall makes Olsen exhort himself slightly, shaking his head, while success brings the ubiquitous “sick!” Of Farar, who shoots everything.


It has incredible smoothness and speed across the board, ”says Farar. “It’s this speed and this smoothness, so one trick flows into the next.”

Poppy Star Olsen

A small male crowd gathered in the smoky air to skate and carp each other with the usual obscene language. Some looked young enough to go to elementary school. A boy screams in the bowl of a fragile scooter and turns off the road.

When performing a manual planting, pulling the board and his feet over his head, Olsen reflects a photo of himself doing the same in a recycling bin a few meters away. This is the same skate park where Olsen was the only girl.

Women’s skating was barely visible a decade ago, and both Olsen and Farar say they have encountered sexism. Many of them are sexism with low expectations: assumptions about which tricks they can land, which falls they can withstand. But sometimes, Farrar says, it’s hard to tell where sexism ends and the grim dynamics of skating begin.

“There are people who go to the park very early because they don’t want anyone to watch them,” she said. “There’s something you see, a skateboarder.” But it’s up to you how to get through this, to make that pressure something good. ”

In the highest, steepest part of the bowl, a little boy nicknamed “Mushroom” looks over the edge. He pushed forward on the handlebars of his small scooter. The chant “Mushroom, Mushroom” begins, and a middle-aged man – skateboard clothes, dark sunglasses – sits and watches in silence.

“You talked about Mushroom, you have to do it now,” says a boy.

“No,” Olsen says and approaches. “I don’t want you to do it.”

She talks to the boy in private, away from the others. He returns to the shallow end of the bowl and rides to a cheerful “sick!” From Farrar. And they all go back to skating.

Poppy Starr Olsen is an Australian professional skateboarder.

Olsen became world champion in her age group in 2014 (over 14) and 2015 (over 15), she won the professional division of the Vans Combi Classic in 2016, and is the first Australian female to compete in the Summer X Games (in 2016). She qualified for and competed in the 2017 Summer X Games taking out a bronze medal in Women’s skateboard park

Una Farrar is a 21-year-old Canadian living in Vancouver. She had the opening part in Vans’ newest video Credits, has been making her own homie videos, and she currently flows for Krooked, Spitfire, and Thunder.

Poppy Star Olsen

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