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Jagger Eaton, U.S. Skateboarders Shine As First X Games In Japan Gets Underway

by Chrös McDougall

Jagger Eaton competes during the last-chance qualifier for the SLS Super Crown World Championship on Nov. 13, 2021 in Jacksonville, Fla.


Skateboarding made its Olympic debut last summer in Tokyo.
On the other side of Tokyo Bay in Chiba, history is being made once again this weekend with the first X Games to be held in Japan. After the first of three days of competition, Americans are in strong positions.
Jagger Eaton, a bronze medalist at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, leads a contingent of five American men who qualified for Sunday’s skateboarding park finals. Meanwhile, fellow Olympian Bryce Wettstein was one of three Americans to move on in the women’s event, which wraps up Saturday.
In Olympic skateboarding, men and women compete in park and street events. Both disciplines are also included in this weekend’s X Games program. Poe Pinson was the lone American to advance to Sunday’s women’s street final, placing fourth on Friday. Men’s street qualifying is Saturday, with the final immediately following the women’s event on Sunday.
The 21-year-old Eaton won the Olympic bronze medal in street last year, but his standout performance Friday was in the park event where skaters perform tricks in a hollowed-out course similar to an empty swimming pool. He ended up with the top score in the elimination round.
“It’s great to know where my tricks stand, it’s great to know what it feels like to compete, right?” Eaton, a three-time X Games medalist, said on the broadcast. “Because traveling all this way, with all your friends, it can be a lot. It can be very stressful, a lot of anxiety, so I’m glad I got it out of the way, I’m glad I ended up on top and I’m excited for Sunday.“
Joining Eaton in the men’s park finals are Tristan Rennie in second, Olympian Zion Wright in fourth, Gavin Bottger in fifth, and Liam Pace in seventh.
On the women’s side, the 18-year-old Wettstein led the Americans in finishing third in park qualifying, one spot behind defending Olympic gold medalist Sakura Yosozumi of Japan. Wettstein will be joined in the finals by Ruby Lilley and Minna Stess, who qualified in fifth and seventh, respectively. In Tokyo, Wettstein was Team USA’s top finisher in women’s park, taking sixth. 
Eaton, Wright, Bottger and Pace are also scheduled to compete in the men’s street qualifiers, as is Olympian Jake Ilardi. That event will feature defending Olympic gold medalist Yuto Horigome of Japan.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic Movement for since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.