TOKYO (Reuters) – For much of Sunday’s inaugural skateboarding competition at the Tokyo Games, the biggest challenge for top international skaters like Nyjah Huston was the intense heat and humidity.
Huston, who is one of the most recognisable faces of skateboarding, said the heat affected not just the skaters but also their boards.
“It really makes a difference. There’s definitely less energy out there than normal,” said the American skater after finishing the preliminaries of Sunday’s event. “You’re hot, your feet start burning up, you feel kind of crazy.”
The International Olympic Committee said on Sunday it would back any competition schedule changes needed at the Games due to the heat and humidity, after athletes across several sports complained the soaring temperatures hampered their performances.
Huston stumbled in the finals and came in seventh, while Japan’s Yuto Horigome won gold after landing four out of five final tricks, all with over 9 points.
Street skating events are usually held indoors in large air-conditioned stadiums. Though the first heats on Sunday began at 8:30 a.m., temperatures were already inching up to 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) in Ariake, a skate park on the waterfront.
Manny Santiago, a 35-year-old skater from Puerto Rico sporting a blue buzzcut and a septum ring, said he knew the weather would be an issue and trained specifically by skating during the hottest hours of the day in Los Angeles.
“I’d go and skate nonstop for hours, just for this,” said Santiago.
The only person the heat did not seem to affect was American Jagger Eaton, who won bronze in the final. Eaton, who is from Arizona, said the heat and early start were normal.
“I’m from Arizona and the only cool time of the day is sunrise … so I’m pretty used to it,” he said.
(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Stephen Coates and Karishma Singh)