Comox Valley skateboarder Shay Sandiford has his eye on a spot at the Tokyo Olympics, where boarding makes its debut. Facebook

Comox Valley skateboarder Shay Sandiford has his eye on a spot at the Tokyo Olympics, where boarding makes its debut. Facebook

Vancouver Islander selected to Canada’s first-ever national skateboard team

Courtenay’s Shay Sandiford has his eye on qualifying for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo

A Vancouver Islander is among 12 athletes who have been selected to Canada’s first-ever national skateboard team.

Shay Sandiford, 23, form Courtenay, has earned a spot on the street side of the team, Canada Skateboard announced last week. The other discipline is park. Both streams of the sport will debut at the Olympic Games this summer in Tokyo.

“The Olympic team won’t be selected until July,” Sandiford said by email from Miami. “The qualifying process for skateboarding is ongoing, but unfortunately all of our events have been on hold for over a year due to COVID and travel restrictions.”

Street boarding is based on obstacles seen in a city’s downtown core, such as stairs, hand rails and ledges. The park discipline competes in an enclosed bowl.

“Kind of like a drained-out swimming pool,” said Sandiford, who graduated from Vanier Secondary in 2015. He recently moved to Los Angeles.

He is in Miami on a filming trip for Thrasher Magazine, along with professional boarders Yuto Horigome and Shane O’Neill.

Growing up in the Comox Valley, Sandiford learned the sport at the Lewis skatepark and at the Big House, which was the indoor skatepark at the time. He later spent most of his high school years at the Isfeld skatepark, honing his skills after school until dark. Sometimes he would fit in a session during lunch breaks. In winter, he skated indoors at the LINC Youth Centre in Courtenay. Another favourite venue was the parking lot at Onethirtythree, which has sponsored Sandiford since age seven.

“My dad is who originally got me into skating. He ended up building me a ramp in my backyard, so I could skate whenever I wanted year-round, which was a huge blessing.”

Canada Skateboard selected the national team based on competitions during the 2019-2020 Olympic Qualifying Tour. Both disciplines of the sport will have preliminaries and finals at the Tokyo Olympics. Twenty skaters will compete in four heats of five. The first eight from the combined ranking of the heats will advance to the finals.

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Shay’s backyard ramp, which his father built.

Shay’s backyard ramp, which his father built.