Not many people can do what Ben Hatchell does: “Skateboarding is my daytime job, as of right now.”
The 29-year-old, Manassas, Virginia, resident is stoked by the possibility of being a member of the U.S. Olympic team when the sport debuts in Tokyo in 2020.
“I think they just wanted something new and exciting, and they finally wised up to try out skateboarding,” Hatchell told WTOP.
Hatchell began skating “about 15 years ago, just because all the kids in my parents’ neighborhood were doing it, and it looked cool.”
The Olympics will have Street and Park competitions, for men and women.
For the uninitiated, Hatchell said the street event resembles tricks skaters would accomplish in an urban environment, “like stair sets, handrails, ledges,” in a competition course.
Hatchell’s forte is the park event: “If anyone’s ever gone by a local skate park with large ramps, it would resemble that.”
Performing tricks with names like front bluntslides, backside feebles, and kickflips into Indy grabs, Hatchell has progressed through two Olympic qualification rounds. Next stop, the 2019 World Park Skateboarding Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
And that’s where his friends come in.
Lifetime skateboarder and industry pioneer Mike Mapp — known as Micro to his counterparts — is helping raise awareness and money for his friend’s attempts to get to Tokyo.
Mapp, 58, who helped design and build the Centreville, Virginia, ramp featured in the documentary “Blood and Steel: Cedar Crest Country Club” is offering to help cover Hatchell’s expenses required to make the Olympic team.
Mapp’s ramp building company, Ramptech, has organized a private event in which friends will contribute $100 for a “shred sesh,” or skating session.
And, Hatchell has set up a GoFund me page for any members of the public willing to help him achieve his goals.
“This is going to help him travel to places like Brazil, and China, and wherever these qualifiers are,” Mapp said. “Oftentimes, these are two-week trips, and you have to stay in places, and they’re not cheap, that’s for sure.”
During his skating prime, Mapp had sponsors to pick up the tab on some of the expenses.
Hatchell said as the popularity of skateboarding expands, the demands on sponsors do as well.
“Sponsors currently aren’t footing the bill for as many contests as there are,” Hatchell said. “This year, in particular, there’s been more than any other year for park skating.”
Having skated with Hatchell over the years, Mapp describes him as “a phenomenal, super-pro skater guy, so if anyone was going to go down this road to the Olympics, it was him.”
Hatchell said he is “stoked that everybody in the D.C. area is supportive” of his efforts, and is appreciative of those who have offered assistance.
Mapp expects the inclusion of skateboarding in the quadrennial extravaganza will undoubtedly boost the sport’s popularity.
“It should be fun to see the Olympics in 2020 in Tokyo, and also in the living rooms of America,” Mapp said.