July 20th, 2024

Toronto teenager Fay De Fazio Ebert wins Pan American Games skateboarding gold

By Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press on October 22, 2023.

Canada's Fay De Fazio Ebert, of Toronto, skates her way to the gold medal in Women's Park Skateboarding at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile on Sunday Oct. 22, 2023. She is wearing a feather from her pet duck Richard in her helmet. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

SANTIAGO, Chile – With a white feather from her pet duck Richard jutting from her helmet, skateboarder Fay De Fazio Ebert dropped into the Pan American Games park bowl and won a gold medal Sunday.

The 13-year-old from Toronto threw down a top score of 82.71 in the first of three rounds and bettered that mark in the second with an 84.66.

With the pressure on the other seven women to get to that number, De Fazio Ebert attempted a move she’d been working in warm-up, a kick-flip indie, on her third pass.

It didn’t pan out, but she’d already done more than enough to become the first gold medallist in women’s park in Pan Am Games history. The sport is making its Pan Am debut in Santiago.

“Crazy,” De Fazio Ebert said. “Like, I can’t explain.”

Brazil’s Raicca Ventura vaulted to the silver medal in the third round with a score of 82.54. American Bryce Wettstein took the bronze at 79.95.

The moment wasn’t too big for the youngest athlete on the Canadian team in her first multi-sport Games.

De Fazio Ebert hugged her competitors and applauded them in warm-up before charging through the bowl with speed and agility on her opening pass.

“I was doing a lot of breathing. Before I drop in like, ‘OK, I’m visualizing my run. I’m doing (it) in my head,'” said the Grade 9 student who turns 14 next month.

“I was a little bit nervous. I was like, ‘No, I shouldn’t be nervous. I’ve got this. These are the tricks I know how to do.’ But I don’t want to be too confident, like, ‘Oh yeah these are easy so I won’t fall.’

“Every effort into the tricks, you know, thinking of one trick at a time.”

De Fazio Ebert upped her degree of difficulty on her second pass by adding a backnose grind – scraping one of her board’s trucks with her back to the ledge.

“She’s a naturally gifted competitor,” Canadian coach Sean Hayes said. “She’s got a lot of courage, she’s fearless and she likes to go really fast.”

Richard the duck provides the teen with the white feathers that she wears in competition.

“I believe he gives me good luck and I wear it to every contest,” De Fazio Ebert said.

She and her younger brother Adrian also have a black duck named Nexo.

De Fazio Ebert is too young to live in the athletes’ village, so she’s staying with her mother Elisabeth, who was bowl-side Sunday.

“I could see how she was skating this week and I believe that she could podium,” Elisabeth said. “I’m not sure if I expected gold or what. I didn’t think that way. But I felt like she had good runs and she was looking really good. So proud of her.

“I always say that the most important thing to me is after her competition, her runs, she’s happy, she’s smiling and she’s proud of herself. That’s the biggest thing. Doesn’t matter where she ends up. I want her to be happy.”

De Fazio Ebert liked cross-country running as an eight-year-old when she tried a free learn-to-skateboard camp in downtown Toronto.

“It was love at first skate,” Elisabeth said.

Skateboarding made its Olympic Games debut in Tokyo two years ago and will be contested again next summer in Paris.

De Fazio Ebert needs to be ranked in the world’s top 44 to get into a pair of Olympic qualifiers next spring. From those two events, the top 20 women go to Paris. De Fazio Ebert is currently ranked 23rd.

While the Pan Am Games don’t count toward rankings, De Fazio Ebert’s appearance in Santiago will serve her well if she can represent Canada in Paris.

“It’s great experience in a multi-sport Games,” Hayes said. “This is great to get used to it and also nice to know what it feels like to walk up on the podium and get to know that feeling.”

De Fazio Ebert wasn’t the youngest competitor Sunday with 12-year-old Nico Russi Ochiai in the field, although the Colombian had a tough day completing one of three runs to score.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2023.

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