Rome holds an unique location in Matt Berger’s heart.
The 27-year-old skateboarder from Kamloops protected certification to the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo recently at the Street World Championships in the Italian capital, utilizing energy from the crowd to recuperate from a nasty fall and slip into the finals.
Berger was 17th in Olympic World Skateboarding Rankings heading into the world champions, the last certifying occasion for the Games.
He was under the impression he required to be ranked inside the leading 16 worldwide after the Rome occasion in order to ensure his put on Canada’s first-ever Olympic skateboarding group.
That world-ranking placing might be protected by being among 8 skaters to reach the finals at the world champions.
One error in the warm-up session prior to the semifinals had prospective to scuttle his Olympic dreams, a vicious fall off a 10-stair rail.
“It honestly was one of the worst slams I’ve taken in skating in years,” stated Berger, speaking with KTW on Tuesday from his house in Huntington Beach, Calif. “It was so bad that I was, like, in shock and laying on the bottom of the stairs checking my body. Am I good? Is my back good? Am I all right? Did I hit my head? I didn’t know what happened, in a sense, because it was so bad and it caught me off guard.”
Worried viewers started to clap when Berger dragged himself up and went back onto his board, attempting to concentrate on the semifinal round, which was to start in 10 minutes.
“The crowd started yelling and they were super supportive,” Berger stated. “Every little trick I did, they were cheering me on and there was this kind of cool connection I’ve never really had in that sense, where the crowd’s energy kind of brought me back to life.”
Berger’s last technique of the semifinal round was the exact same one he bailed on throughout warm-up — a kickflip, behind, tail slide huge draw out on the 10-stair rail.
He stomped it.
“I ended up putting everything together and that trick was the very last try I had and if I didn’t land it, I wouldn’t have made the finals,” Berger stated.
“The crowd was just so psyched. I just remember rolling away with this huge sense of relief, but also looking at the crowd and being like, ‘You guys helped me with this.’”
The video of the technique and his response, that includes forming a heart with his hands and indicating the crowd, is approaching 10,000 likes on Instagram.
“That was probably one of the most life-changing tricks I’ve done in competition,” Berger stated. “I didn’t even realize it at the time, but in hindsight, that last try and that trick was a really big game changer for my Olympics.”
Berger, Andy Anderson of White Rock and Micky Papa of Vancouver will represent Canada in skateboarding at the delayed 2020 Games, which are arranged to range from July 23 to Aug. 8.
Relationships with business such as RBC and sponsors Etnies, Flip Skateboards, Monster Energy, Thunder Trucks and Bones Wheels, together with competitors cash prize and video look charges, assistance Berger pay expenses.
Qualifying for the history-making Canadian group assures to open more doors for his profession.
“General Mills, and I couldn’t even believe it, but they decided to put me on my favourite cereal, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, so you can find that in the local grocery store,” stated Berger, who will include in the X Games Real Street video coming out on July 5.
“It’s been very life changing in a lot of ways.”
Berger went through stopped working knee surgical treatment in 2015. In 2017, he had a speculative, cadaver-implant knee surgical treatment.
“So to mentally be in those spaces and then to be able to have come back from that place, in hindsight, is overwhelming, especially after Rome, realizing, hey, you did this — you’re going to the Olympics,” Berger stated.
And he may be going to Japan with a youth pal from Kamloops, Isaac Kaay, who is most likely to learn on Monday if he fractures the lineup of the Canadian rugby 7s team that will complete at the Games.
“That’s like my brother,” stated Berger, who went to primary and secondary school with Kaay. “We keep talking in hopes we can do the opening ceremony and cruise together, but I don’t know if COVID is going to allow for it.”
Berger was born and raised in Kamloops and credits coaches such as Derek Swaim and Stacy Gabriel for adding to his advancement.
“For me, growing up, we ended up getting the new skate park in McArthur Island when I was maybe 11 or 12, and that park is incredible,” stated Berger, whose household still lives in the Tournament Capital. “It’s a little beat up now and needs a little TLC, but for that period, it was like being gifted the greatest training ground.”
Men’s and females’s street and park occasions will be consisted of in the 2020 Games, with 80 professional athletes from 24 nations in action.
Berger is the top-ranked Canadian in the street discipline in Olympic World Skateboarding rankings, sitting 10th total.
“There was a point where I was so defeated with coming back from my knee injury that it wasn’t even about trying to come back to skateboarding,” Berger stated. “I had actually accepted that I may never ever have the ability to be an expert skateboarder and do it for a living any longer, however I simply wished to get my life back.
“This is honestly unbelievable for me.”
ON THE PROGRAM
Berger and Kaay will sign up with the hosts of Kamloops Last Week on Wednesday.
The episode will be released on the program’s YouTube page.
Podcast variations of KLW can be discovered on all significant service providers.