Goofy: the UCI’s skateboarding grab

Skateboarding is not a crime
But an unapproved skateboard or inappropriate clothing might be in breach of the UCI rules

News that the UCI was looking to become the world governing body for skateboarding is doing the rounds. Only it’s not news, it’s been on the agenda for some time. The New York Times covered this in 2007.

For some time the International Olympic Committee has been concerned that the summer games every year aren’t contemporary enough. Many of us like the chance to glimpse new sports but for many the traditional events like track and field are inaccessible, elitist and traditional. Unlike skateboarding.

Keen to bring more youth and extreme events – witness the success of the X Games – into the Olympic fold, there’s also a commercial dimension here, the IOC simply wants to keep abreast of new sports. BMX has already joined the Olympics and the UCI was a logical organisation to take charge of this.

All the same I can’t help wondering if skateboarding would work in the Olympics. Just a bicycle for competition is regulated, a plank of wood with four wheels would soon become codified with regulations on size and weight and terrifyingly… subject to UCI approval. This isn’t to say there aren’t already rules for boarding as there are… it’s just a big jump to go to the UCI and its culture of detailed rules and noble amateurism.

McTwist, goofy, fakie and fat are all boarding terms.

I’ve nothing against skateboarding, except memories of grazed elbows and ruined jeans. No, my concern here is one of mission creep. Given the UCI is proving inept at rallying everyone in road cycling surely now is not the time to try and co-opt another sport? The IOC might be very keen but it’s time the UCI stopped listening to Lausanne so intently because a lot of others are worried about the sport. If skateboarding does want to appear in 2016 then it’s not impossible for the IOC to hand-hold a new international governing to run things rather than letting the UCI risk bungling things.

Follow the money
If you hear about changes happening somewhere, ask who stands to gain. The ancient Romans knew this, they asked cui bono. Indeed I suspect the UCI will be very keen to take on the role. Why? Well the UCI’s third largest income source is the Olympic Games, with the IOC paying an annual allowance of 3.5 million Swiss Francs as a reward to the UCI. New competitions are likely to increase the money available.

20 thoughts on “Goofy: the UCI’s skateboarding grab”

  1. To be serious however, why would skateboarding not be under better direction by whatever governing body governs Snowboarding? Or how about this…split snowboarding and skateboarding, and create a new IOC sponsored body for those sports. They have much more in common than the the UCI and skateboarding.

    And finally, I am sick of the IOC trying to find the next great sport and adopt it. Snowboarding at the Olympics has turned the winter Olympics into nothing more than demon-child cross of Red Bull and Warren Miller. My problem with the X-Games additions to the Olympics, is that it both takes away from disciplines much, much more demanding than these sports, but also, if your sport is associated with binge drinking, smoking weed, and basically f’ing around (and we are not referring to the fans), then it does not belong in the Olympics. When other athletes devote their entire young adulthood sacrificing their social, cultural and in general family lives to compete..something rubs me the wrong way that these X-Game sports being even considered for the Olympics.

    Okay…enough with my rant.

  2. Hilarious ….. wouldn’t deserve Cyclocross to be an Olympic discipline more than skateboarding?

    I think UCI doesn’t know what 2-wheels disciplines they have under their umbrella, or better, they only know the 2-wheels that brings $$€€


  3. “Ja ja ja ja”, as the spanish people write when laughing! Living in Spain, beeing close to the BMX and skateborad scene through a BMX fanatic teenager son, it is likely that skateboarders and BMX riders wil follow NO rules at all. Words and expresions such as; anarchy, we judge each other in competitions and don´t need any adults in taylormade suits, beer cans on the courses, overdoses of Red Bull, joints and party all night long does not seem to go hand in hand with UCI undertaker profile. I can only say GOOD LUCK, Mr. McTwist! You may need it cause this is to much a task compared to beating a few DS who teomorarly have lost connection to the earth because of justified criticism.

  4. Could we please suspend the Canabis prohibition in this instance? Please? Poor kids . . . .
    . . . . . really though if the IOC wants these kids on board so bad great! Give these potential future olympians a good union and tell the suits, “ok, were in, but we get to keep our spliffs boss.” Now that would be progressive. . . . it always killed me to hear about a snowboarder/mountainbiker getting rolled for weed. . . now skaters?

  5. The real interesting thing will be medical exemptions, medical marijuana anyone.
    Seriously though, the skateboarders I know aren’t really that keen about the Olympics. I would think for monetary and freedom reasons they would just want to stay with the X games format.

  6. The BMX at the olympics is not the BMX of the X-Games. It is, if you like, a proper sport which requires fitness and training – Jamie Staff transferred fairly successfully from BMX to track – and as such seems like a reasonable thing for the UCI to be in charge of.

    Skateboarding isn’t, as far as I know, a fastest wins sport so seems a much less natural fit for the UCI, even ignoring the fact that no bicycles are involved. As far as I know the UCI has no history of running or dealing with sports where the criteria for winning are purely subjective and this, as much as any culture clash, seems like a big stumbling block. Especially in the case of the X-Games sports these are all about trying new things and pushing back boundaries, ideas seeming antithetical to the UCI.

  7. Great. The UCI jumping forward with another blatant conflict of interest so they can grab more money and appease the IOC. I could easily forsee cycling losing another slot in the Olympics to make room for skateboarding. The only thing worse than that would be that it was facilitated by the very organization that is charged with promoting cycling.

  8. Skateboarding? Please! I’d like to see all so-called “sports” using judges and scorecards removed from the Olympic Games. If the winner can not be determined by a measuring device (clock, measuring tape, photo-finish camera or actual score – like how many times did the ball go through the hoop, etc.) to me it’s not a sport. It may well be competition, as in who can wow the judge into giving them a higher score than their competitor for their performance of flipping through the air while attached to skiis or snowboard, swinging around on gym equipment or just diving off a platform into a pool, but to me it’s not a sport — anymore than jumping over school buses with a motorcycle is a sport. What the hell is the “sport” of skateboarding? Do they line up and race ’em? Fine with me if “Hotair” McQuaid and Co. wants to somehow “sanction” this so-called “sport”..perhaps they’ll get out of cycling and make way for a less-corrupt organization to oversee cycling?

  9. Anyone who thinks that skateboarding (and snowboarding etc) success does not require training, dedication, sacriice and the other components that go into success at the top level of any other sport is a fool. That said, what a disaster it would be if the UCI became the IOC sanctioned governing body for skateboarding.

  10. The UCI have no idea how to manage the sport they’ve been in charge of for so long,imagine what a devastating blow their “management” would deliver to skateboarding.

    Which has no place in the Olympics,by the way.Neither does BMX.

  11. If the UCI takes over governance of skateboarding for the purposes of bringing it into the olympics, I’m going to throw my support behind JV&co’s rival governing body for the road, and go back to enjoying endurance MTB races run without UCI sanctioning…

    I think the UCI would be better off trying to get street luge into the olympics, if they really want to attract more dollars from the UCI. Of course, street luge is less popular than skateboarding for a whole bunch of reasons, but it’s much much closer to what the UCI does than skateboarding is (ignoring, for a second or two, the very obvious problem that it doesn’t involve a bike…)

    Actually, I can solve that problem too – street luge recumbent bikes! Now there’s a discipline the UCI can legitimately get behind (as long as there’s a powerful national federation willing to stump up the dollars – and I don’t think it’s popular in Japan, is it?)

    I’d grumble more, but the UCI isn’t listening anyway…

  12. I don’t mind BMX Racing being in the Olympics, as others have stated, it is a sport which requires fitness, speed, power and technique. That being said, it should have never been introduced to the detriment of track cycling (real cycling, if you will).

    Freestyle BMX is the discipline being proposed and has no place in the olympics. Keep your “sick air”, “gnarly flips” etc. in the X Games

  13. grolby: indeed. There are no easy medals.

    To all: The inclusion of BMX meant we lost some track events. Personally I would have reduced some of the endurance events like the points or madison since these tend to reward the guys who can win on the road anyway. But that’s another debate for another day. I’d hate to see more medals lost to give them to skateboarding but can’t see that happening, surely they’d give new space to skateboarding?

  14. To those that don’t think the UCI manages subjective cycling, please look at:

    I can see a hipster division opening up (no lycra allowed, only tight denim), and a bid by Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY) to be host of the World Championships of artistic cycling. Of course certain substances will need to be removed from the banned list here as well.

    On the track, to me the points race and madison are far more interesting to watch that 1 or 2 guys going around the track at any given time, where you can only tell who is going faster by watching the clock. Of course they are harder to explain to non fans, as the guy across the line first isn’t always the winner.

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