Like many sports fans last week, our TV was tuned to the Olympics. Gymnasts, swimmers, divers, track-and-fielders. Such amazing athletes! This year, for the first time, we also watched skateboarding.
Skateboarding may not strike purists an Olympic-worthy sport, but I can understand how the hobby— embraced for decades by renegade spirits of all ages—made it through the international committee that decides such things. Perhaps it went something like this: “Well, we’ve got snowboarding in winter, so…”
This year’s event aired just in time to put the finishing touches on a scene in my next mystery. In researching the sport, I’ve learned a few bits of language that thrashers (skateboarders) speak—like grind, ollie, and tail-grab five-forty—as they zoom around a skatepark’s cradles and bowls.
Here’s a peek at that scene:
He leaped into the bowl, flipped his board with his feet, reconnected to it in mid air, zipped down to the bottom and up another slope, gaining speed as he went. On his last approach to the top, his feet left the board and he went airborne, flipped upside down and still somehow managed to reconnect feet to board and land the trick. Someone shouted, “Rip it up, Skeeter!” The crowd went crazy.
After watching eleven- and twelve-year-old girls compete for an Olympic medal in Tokyo, a different skateboard scene, this one in The Body Next Door, popped into my head. (Five years on, I forgot I’d written it!) Instead of a skatepark, it’s set in the parking garage of a high-rise where Samantha Newman watches the forlorn ten-year-old Lizzie Mason struggle to teach herself how to ride her big brother’s cast-off board.
That scene led me to remember another one from the book, one that features Krav Maga, which is a perfect sport for the Olympics. Invented by the Israeli military, and adopted by law enforcement organizations around the world, it’s a form of hand to hand combat in which you learn to neutralize an assailant (or unruly criminal) as quickly as possible. No weapon needed. In my novel, however, the self defense system dissolves into a silly pillow fight between Samantha and the ever-elusive Carter Chapman. While it could be said that their attraction to one another is of Olympic proportions, we shall save that conversation for another day. 😉
Did you watch the Olympics this year? What’s your favorite event?