Tuesday, November 30th, 2021
Too little acceptance for skating
National coach angry about “kindergarten”
The national skateboard trainer is angry. Jürgen Horrwarth complains that despite the strong performances of his athletes at the Olympics, their sport is only “presented at kindergarten level”. Above all, the infrastructure in Germany is shamefully bad for the development of talent.
National skateboard trainer Jürgen Horrwarth indulges in unforgettable Olympic memories during his vacation on Lisbon’s Atlantic coast. “When you think about what Lilly and Tyler have achieved, it’s actually unbelievable,” says Horrwarth, deeply impressed – but the future prospects of his skaters are less rosy.
Although his protégés, 14-year-old Lilly Stoephasius and 21-year-old Tyler Edtmayer, “far exceeded” expectations in Tokyo, skateboarders are still “presented at kindergarten level,” says Horrwarth angrily. The appearance on the Olympic world stage threatens to remain an exception.
“That has a lot to do with acceptance, public and mentality,” reports Horrwarth. The multiple European champion knows what he is talking about: “Just as I was an exception in Germany back then, there is still no German professional in transition skating today. I don’t know if it will ever happen, even if we have Lilly and Tyler. “
The “biggest problem” in developing top skaters is the poor infrastructure. “We are the most densely populated nation in Central Europe and have some of the worst facilities,” says Horrwarth. In the German administration, skate parks are still classified under the playground category, while training facilities lag far behind international standards.
Public appearances are also a constant nuisance for Horrwarth. “We are portrayed like the crazy and weird who ‘jet down the ramp’. That terminology is ridiculous,” says the 43-year-old. Stoephasius, the youngest German participant in Tokyo, is portrayed as a “sweet girl” and “not taken seriously as an athlete”.
But he also has hope: With ninth place in Tokyo and her carefree manner, Stoephasius has taken on a role model function for young girls and could “develop quite blatantly”. The level in the women’s scene in particular has “exploded” in recent years, says Horrwarth happily: “Skating has long been more than just the USA and Tony Hawk.”
In Tokyo, Japan triumphed in three of four Olympic competitions, while the skateboard motherland only got bronze twice. In Paris 2024 Stoephasius and Co. will be back at the start, four years later in Los Angeles anyway – after that, skating will be an integral part of the Olympics. Almost a dozen promising German talents are already benefiting from state sports funding. “This is a novelty and something really great,” says Horrwarth. He himself used to have to rely on various sponsors, “it wasn’t that easy to reconcile”.
As national coach, Horrwarth supports his young park riders in a “very close relationship of trust”, “even when it is lovesick”. In Lisbon he identified another potential top talent in 14-year-old Keanu Schwedt. He sees the German team well-positioned for the coming years: “This is a tight crew with whom you can set off for new shores.”