Olympic Skates

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?

Gay Yellen writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mysteries, including The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and the soon to be released Body in the News. She’d love to hear from you here, on FacebookBookBub, or via her website.

11 replies
  1. Mark Baker
    Mark Baker says:

    The first week, I tried to watch as much as I could. That became impossible when diving took so much time to follow in the second week with three rounds each. That's pretty much all I watched this last week.

    • Gay Yellen
      Gay Yellen says:

      I agree, Mark. The time it took to watch some events was an issue for me, too. Made me wonder why sports like golf and baseball were included. One round or game takes up a marathons' worth of time. Happily, we could pick and choose our own entertainment.

  2. Donnell Ann Bell
    Donnell Ann Bell says:

    Oh my gosh, I'm in awe of anyone who is trained in Krav Maga. You scene sounds too funny, Gay. We watched swimming, gymnastics and the marathon. (My husband is a marathon runner and even ran a marathon in Antarctica (ah! a future blog post!) What I thought was fascinating is the woman marathon runner who took the Gold (according to my husband) had only run three marathons in her life. Wowza. Great post!

  3. Saralyn
    Saralyn says:

    I don't know about skateboarding, but Krav Maga sounds like a skill everyone should know and use these days. Where do we sign up for training? (Thanks for sharing!)

  4. Gay Yellen
    Gay Yellen says:

    Saralyn, our daughter signed up for lessons a couple of years ago at a Krav Maga studio here. Don't know if they're still around, but it might be worth some research. Fair warning: she said it was tough. Still, I'd love to see the real thing in a safe setting, like at the Olympics! The other sport I'm waiting to see there is parkour, which I also featured in The Body Next Door. It started in France, so maybe we'll see it at the Paris games.

  5. Kathryn Lane
    Kathryn Lane says:

    Gay, I loved the scene you shared from your upcoming novel. I felt I was the one speeding on that skateboard! Other than including the game of fencing (which is an Olympic sport), I have not ventured into other sports in my novels. Krav Maga provides an idea!

    • Gay Yellen
      Gay Yellen says:

      Thanks, Kathryn. When fencing was featured in the Olympics a few years ago, I remember reading an article in the local paper about the contenders from our hometown. It must be a sport that cycles in and out of the program.

    • Kathryn Lane
      Kathryn Lane says:

      I know it was in the Tokyo Olympics this year. I think the last bout was on August 1. It's not an important sport in the US, but it is in Europe and Latin America. Again, I'm glad you mentioned Krav Maga as an Olympic possibility!

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