Olympics-Skateboarders ready to feel the Paris 2024 love

Nyjah Huston of the United States poses with the trophy after his 3rd position in the Street League Skateboarding (SLS) Championship Tour 2024 at the Adidas Arena in Paris, France, February 24, 2024. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/ File photo

PARIS (Reuters) - There was some heartbreak in Tokyo for Nyjah Huston and Aurelien Giraud, but the two skaters are getting into the Paris 2024 hype in style, ready to feel the crowd's love at the Olympics for the first time.

Three years ago in Japan, Giraud took sixth place with Huston, a street skateboarding great with 12 X Games gold medals, finishing a spot behind.

Last Saturday, however, both were near their best as Giraud took first place while Huston came third in the SLS first leg in Paris' Adidas Arena.

The Olympic events will be held on the Place de la Concorde, but Huston and Giraud, the street skateboard world champion, got a first taste of the Paris crowd support.

"I think the energy out there will be a lot better, and Tokyo was a little weird for everyone, no crowd, no hype, no homies there so I'm excited to give it another shot it's going to be a fun one," the 29-year-old Huston told Reuters.

Huston is a seasoned X Games rider and a six-time world champion but cannot wait to embrace the Olympic vibe.

"The difference between the X Games and the Olympics... the course will be a lot bigger at the Olympics and obviously it's the Olympics it's legendary, it's worldwide, you're skating for your country and to me that's like the biggest difference you feel, that pressure from a whole country instead of ... your family and fans and stuff," the American explained.

Huston, widely regarded as one of the greatest skateboarders of all time, believes the presence of his sport at the Olympics was long overdue.

"When I first heard ... that I had a chance to make it I didn't give it very much thought beforehand but after people started talking about it I was like 'wow, why wasn't it in there so many years ago like snowboarding'. I feel like skateboarding should have been there when snowboarding was," he said.

Snowboarding has been an Olympic discipline since 1998, when it made its first appearance at the Nagano Winter Games.

"But at least it's in there now I personally wish it was in there years ago when I was younger so I had more chances but I'm happy I'm still at a point where I can compete with these guys and go out there and compete at winning levels," Huston added.

"Paris is going to be so sick, it's going to be so sick."

Giraud, who will have the advantage of competing in front of his home crowd, shared Huston's point of view.

"It's something incredible it happens once in a lifetime," the 26-year-old told Reuters.

"(The fans' presence) changes a lot, they're the one triggering the adrenaline shot, it changes everything."

Giraud hopes the Olympics, which will draw an unprecedented light on the sport, will change the perception of skateboarders.

"There are cliches in every sport. It doesn't really matter to us... it's part of the game. (People think we just) hang out in the streets and don't do much, while we're really on a mission to skate and perform. It's a lot of training hours, more than three hours a day," he said.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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