When Andy Anderson rolls up to the skatepark, all eyes are on him.
The Lower Mainland skateboarding community knows Anderson – a 20-year-old White Rock native – as one of the most talented ‘park’ skateboarders in the area.
However, Kevin Harris – Canada’s first professional skateboarder and a member of the Canadian Olympic committee for skateboarding – said Anderson is one of the best park skateboarders “out of Canada, out of the world.”
Earlier this year, the International Olympic Committee approved five new sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. For the first time, the contest will include men’s and women’s park and street skateboarding events.
“To me, he’s the most exciting athlete we can bring to the table for the 2020 Olympics,” Harris said.
Peace Arch News called Anderson at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday last week to arrange an interview an hour later. Admittedly, Anderson was just waking up.
With PAN’s initial intention of meeting at the White Rock skatepark, he opted to meet at Fatburger instead, because it was wet outside – plus Fatburger’s breakfast is “where it’s at.”
Anderson arrived on time, wearing black fingerless gloves, disheveled shoulder-length hair and a leather jacket covered with glued-on patches. He showed off a skateboarding patch he’d added the night before, complete with what looked like wet glue still oozing from its edges.
After ordering his breakfast – scrambled eggs and pancakes – he walked over to the soda fountain to pour himself a drink – a cup of water with a sugar packet stirred inside.
It’s not the first impression you would expect from a potential Canadian Olympian.
An Olympic gold medal is the “be all and end all,” said Anderson, who was recently accepted onto Canada’s Olympic training team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Anderson described street skating as a sport where athletes do tricks off obstacles typically found on or near streets. He explained that park skating has more obstacles and curvatures on the terrain.
“Canada has some of the best street skateboarders in the world right now,” he said. “As far as street goes in skateboarding, Canada, we’re pretty set. But we don’t have any park guys. So I would be a hopeful for the park.”
Harris echoed that statement.
“I would throw in that he’s way more than a hopeful. He will make the Canadian team for park unless he injures himself or something happens in the next 3½ years,” Harris said.
Rohith Sarcar photo
Anderson said he’s going to ready himself for the Olympic team, but he needs guidance.
“That’s the thing about skateboarding is nobody is prepared to train. In other sports you have other people telling you regimented schedules. Skateboarding, it’s so spontaneous – it’s like, I feel like skating, so I’m going to skate,” Anderson said.
When the weather is right, Anderson skateboards anywhere from six to eight hours a day.
“I just need someone to tell me what to do. Right now, that’s not offered, but as soon as it is I’m 100 per cent ready to give into that.”
Skateboarding, like any extreme sport, comes with its risks. Anderson said he needs to incorporate more stretching before getting on the board. His worst three injuries were all within the past three years. He said most of his injuries may have been prevented if he stretched.
He’s currently recovering from an elbow injury – “just bailing, putting my arm down and dislocated my elbow.
“I was trying to show off for some girl. I was just laying on the ground and it popped back in. I just relaxed thinking about what happened and I felt it go pop, pop, pop, pop, and it’s back.”
Troy Derrick, a skateboarder and South Surrey RCMP officer, has been working with Anderson on a training routine that’s separate from the technical side of the sport.
Derrick said Anderson “definitely has a style of his own.”
“At least from my end, working with him is getting him a bit more mindstrong. It’s kind of a hard thing to explain unless you’ve seen our training concept,” he said. “One of the common mistakes is that people think skateboarding is all the same. But there are several different disciplines within it. Andy has a pretty good handle on all of them.”
Anderson started skating when he was four years old. He entered his first competition when he was seven.
Since then, he’s competed all over North America and has won two world championships in amateur freestyle skateboarding. He won the most recent title last May in Cloverdale.
“There’s five freestyle contests in the world every year. One in Germany, one in Japan, one in Rio, one in Philly and one in Clovey. Cloverdale is the biggest one,” Anderson said.
Earlier this year, he got to experience skateboarding outside of North America. Ultimate Distribution – a skateboarding distribution company owned by Harris – sent him to India as an ambassador of the sport.
“We sent over Andy as the top skateboarder from North America. He was treated like a rock star, he just did tours and shows and introduced skateboarding to kids that have never seen it,” Harris said.
Harris expects skateboarding to gain international popularity after it’s debuted at the Olympics.