"If ever there was an example of how little conditioning and strength has to do with success in rollerblading, it is young Takeshi Yasutoko. At only 15, he is the youngest vert skater to medal at the X Games and his success is testament to the importance of technique and confidence over conditioning and strength."Arlo Eisenberg
Takeshi Yasutoko was born June 25, 1986 in Osaka, Japan. Nicknamed the "Japanese Bullet" he followed in the wheel tracks of his parents, professional roller skaters, and older brother, Eito, a fellow inline skating professional.
Takeshi began roller skating when he was only three years old, he moved to inline skating at the age of six. Breaking precedents is a habit with Takeshi, who joined the ASA pro tour at only nine years of age. He was the youngest ever competitor in an X Games competition when at 11 years of age he competed in the 1998 Summer X Games. Skating with his brother, both in and out of competitions, Takeshi has had the best possible start for a pro skater. Given all that he has accomplished in the few years since he has started, there is no doubt he will continue to set precedents and help to revolutionize the sport.
Takeshi is famous for being one of the most technically proficient skaters in the profession. While his brother Eito makes the crowds cheer with his high flying acrobatics, Takeshi makes the professionals look on in wonder as he cleanly executes difficult grinds (for example: Alley Oop Topside Acid or Backslide to Alley Oop Topside Soul) and complex combinations1. As far as invention goes, he is credited with the 1080 Mac Twist and is known for his flawless 900 Flat Spin. His signature move is the Viking Flip, of which he recently perfected the Double. He is also one of the highest flying skaters ever, regularly winning Big Air competitions. Watching Takeshi is a joy. When you compare him to the skaters who precede or follow him, he stands out as easily to the untrained eye as to the professionals.
Top Finishes / Records
Given the nature of the sport, with as many competitions and exhibitions a dedicated pro may choose to attend, below is a detailed summary of Takeshi's career. An exhaustive record is well beyond the scope of this article.
ASA Pro Tour
2004 - Buffalo 3rd, Cincinnati 2nd, Dulles 1st, Sacramento 1st
2003 - Buffalo 3rd, Cincinnati 4th, Dulles 2nd - Tour Rank 3rd
2002 - Atlanta 1st, Baltimore 3rd, Cincinnati 1st, Dallas 2nd, Los Angeles 1st, Milwaukee 1st, San Diego 2nd - Tour Rank 1st
2001 - Anaheim 3rd, Baltimore 6th, Bristol 2nd, Dallas 2nd, Huntington Beach 1st, Louisville 2nd, Milwaukee 4th, Rome 1st - Tour Rank 2nd
2000 - Hermosa Beach 2nd, Lake Havasu 2nd, Milwaukee 2nd, Ontario 3rd, St. Petersburg 3rd, Toronto 3rd
1999 - Boulder 3rd, Frankfurt 2nd, Salt Lake City 3rd, Stockholm 1st, Toronto 3rd - Tour Rank 2nd
1998 - B-3 1st, Toronto 4th, Finals 7th
Asian X Games
2004 - 1st
2003 - 2nd
2002 - 2nd, 1st Doubles, 1st Street
2000 - 3rd / 1st Doubles
1999 - 3rd
1998 - 3rd
2004 - 1st
2003 - 2nd
X Games Global - 1st
2002 - 2nd
2001 - 2nd
Planet X Games - 1st
2000 - 2nd
1999 - 8th / Triples 3rd
Jr. X Games 1st Vert / 1st Best Trick / 1st Street
1998 - 14th (youngest ever X Games competitor)
2003 - 8th
2002 - 2nd
2001 - 2nd
2000 - 4th
1999 - 5th
Other Notable Competitions
2004 - Nokia Core Tour 1st twice / 1st High Air, LG World Championships 1st
2003 - High Rollers 1st, LG World Championships (ASA Finals) 9th
2002 - Soul Bowl 1st / 1st High Air
2001 - World Team Challenge 4th, MTV Music Fest 1st, Nutrilite Extreme Challenge 2nd, Roller de Bercy 3rd
2000 - Soul Bowl 1st, YOZ Games 2nd, X Sports Core Extreme Games 1st, Roller de Bercy 3rd
1999 - AST 3rd, Soul Bowl 4th, Excel Cup 1st, NISS Championship 1st, Roller de Bercy 2nd
1998 - "g" Skates Cup 1st Vert / 1st Mini Ramp / 2nd Street, Ultimate Inline Challenge 1st Doubles, JASPA Championship 2nd, NISS Championship 3rd, IISS Finals 1st
Takeshi's first 1st Place finish came in 1995 in the ez Championship in Japan. He competed professionally in the years 1995-1997 mainly in JASPA and NISS with a few competitions on the ASA pro tour. A few were notable, most if only for his age.
Takeshi's career started early and took off fast. He set numerous records for youngest competitor as well as youngest winner, most notably in 1998 at the ASA B-3 event, X Games and IISS Championship. Given his beginnings and the strong skating ethic in his family it is certain he will continue to win competitions and advance the sport. Unlike his brother, Takeshi's technical prowess and refined technique translates well to the street course. While Eito concentrates on pushing the envelope, Takeshi continues to refine the sport, adding artistic elements, speed and big air that other skaters can only quietly envy. He currently plans on taking over his father's business, Good Skates, and like his brother, working to train the next generations of skaters. However, given his age at the time of these statements, who knows? For now, let him skate.
The Yasutoko Brothers
If you compare Takeshi's record with Eito's you will notice that not only do they skate together, but it is most often Eito right above Takeshi in the standings. These two skate together in almost every competition and in almost every competition finish side by side at the top of the standings. They are doubles partners in doubles competitions and until recently were also training partners. With their father Yuki taping every competition from the sidelines, training the Good Skates team (which will soon include their little sister) and helping them to grow in their sport they are more often referred to as "The Brothers" than individually.
1 - The write ups in grind and in combo relate to skateboarding. While these are, of course, different, the concepts are the same. If/when write ups are added to cover inline skating, they should be in the same nodes.
and my own observations of, and history with, the sport of inline skating.