F.Lilly Stoephasius had five days to practice her run in the skateboard facility in Tokyo. In the night from Wednesday to Thursday (2 am CEST in the FAZ live ticker for the Olympic Games, on ARD and on Eurosport), the 14-year-old Berliner will be the only German woman to compete in the new “Bowl” discipline. The shape of a bowl resembles an empty pool basin. The riders jump over the edge of the bowl, slide over metal bars attached to the edge of the bowl, and are rated for elegance, difficulty and execution of their tricks. When Stoephasius chases through the Bowl, it’s like a roller coaster ride without tracks. She flies out of the bowl, grabs her board, picks up momentum as she lands and races to the other side. If she miscalculates, the jump ends with a crash on her large knee pads. Then she takes a short breath, collects her board, runs up the ramp and waits for her turn again.
In the starting field of 20 women, Stoephasius’ age of just 14 years is nothing special. Olympic skateboarding is a young sport with young female athletes. In the street skating competition that took place last week, only teenagers were on the podium: 13-year-old Japanese Momiji Nishiya won ahead of 13-year-old Rayssa Leal from Brazil and 16-year-old Japanese Funa Nakayama.
What is unusual about Stoephasius’ participation is rather that it comes from a country in which there are no training facilities comparable to the one in Tokyo. When Lilly Stoephasius trains in Berlin, she doesn’t drive on a perfectly cast concrete track like the one in Tokyo. Your training facility in Berlin is surrounded by clubs and bars. The bowl is made of boards, there is music, soda and beer are sold outside. Hardly anyone trains here for competitions. In preparation for the Olympics, Lilly traveled across Europe with her father and trainer Oliver Stoephasius. In Malmö, Amsterdam and Paris there are systems that are close to those in Tokyo.
Oliver Stoephasius gave Lilly her first skateboard when she was three years old. Lilly began to train regularly at the age of five and was German champion at the age of eleven. In Tokyo she has three attempts in qualifying to qualify for the final. Each starter has three times 45 seconds to convince the judges. At the end of each run there is a rating between zero and one hundred points, the best eight participants reach the final. The Japanese and the Americans are among the favorites.
“The level is extremely high”
It would be a success for Lilly Stoephasius to make it into the top ten. Above all, however, she is concerned with promoting skateboarding as a competitive sport in Germany. “My goal is to show that there are many sides to skateboarding – and one of them is competitive sport. If the participation in Tokyo helps to build a park in Berlin or elsewhere in Germany, that would be a big step. ”Oliver Stoephasius traveled to Tokyo with Lilly together with the national coach Jürgen Horrwarth. Horrwarth is a former professional skateboarder. He was at many big competitions, but none was like the one in Tokyo. “Everything is a bit more blatant. The level is extremely high. ”He is satisfied with Lilly’s preparation. “It only gets a bit hectic sometimes when everyone is training at the same time. Because of safety regulations and corona rules, there are many regulations, everything takes place to the second according to the schedule. We’re not really used to that in skateboarding. “
Oliver Stoephasius started skateboarding in the 1970s and witnessed the development from a semi-legal employment of dropouts in California to a professional sport. He does not share the accusation that skateboarding is not staying true to itself because it is accepted to the Olympics. “The skate scene is now developing in different directions. There are those who see skateboarding as a lifestyle and insist that it is not a sport. At the same time, the development in the direction of competitive sport is picking up speed. The parks keep getting better, just like the pros. There will be a gap between recreational riders and professionals, but that doesn’t have to change much of the skate scene. Even if skateboarding is at the Olympics, everyone can still scooter around as they like. “One person rides his longboard and fetches bread, the other trains professionally.” The eternal contradiction between lifestyle and professional sport, between the free development of a sport and clear Olympic rules, dissolves when the veteran Stoephasius talks about the scene.
For Lilly, there is enough room for creativity even in competitive sports. “Nothing is stipulated in skateboarding, you can design everything yourself. Everyone does different tricks, everyone drives differently. ”In her runs she will demonstrate her best tricks, those that she learned in the shack in Berlin and for which she now has the big stage in Tokyo.