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How breakdancing’s big Olympic break changed the game for one Canadian world champion

Phil Wizard of Canada competes against Victor of the United States during the B-boy Red Bull BC One World Final at Hammerstein Ballroom on November 12, 2022 in New York City.

Philip Kim is criss-crossing the globe like a person obsessive about racking up airline miles.

He’s not, although he does have a plan for all these factors he’s accumulating. The world champion breakdancer is simply making an attempt to navigate the qualifying course of for the game’s Olympic debut subsequent summer time in Paris, whereas additionally staying on the high in a very totally different set of occasions which have lengthy fashioned the inspiration of the game.

Final month, the 26-year-old from Vancouver — who competes as b-boy Phil Wizard — flew to France, Hawaii and Japan for breaking competitions. His journey itinerary over the subsequent few weeks consists of Japan (once more), Hong Kong and Brazil.

Kim is Canada’s high prospect for Paris, the place 16 b-boys and 16 b-girls from all over the world will face off in one-on-one battles. Whereas a few of the journey is for Olympic qualifying, his journey is extra about sustaining the group ties which have made him a distinguished Crimson Bull athlete, and one of many uncommon breakers who earns a residing within the sport.

You are reading: How breakdancing’s big Olympic break changed the game for one Canadian world champion

Philip Kim, who competes as Phil Wizard, is Canada's top breaking athlete and well placed to qualify for the Olympic debut of breaking at the 2024 Paris Games.

“This has been my way of life for the previous couple of years and I’m very grateful for it, so I can’t complain,” Kim mentioned of being on the highway about half the yr. “My motto is: Life is sweet, life is unbelievable. Generally it’s tiring, however hey, I’d reasonably be doing this than anything.”

On Tuesday, he’ll compete at Undisputed Masters in Tokyo, a part of a prestigious breaking sequence that received’t get him any nearer to Paris. Three weeks later, he’ll be off to compete in Rio at a World DanceSport Federation occasion that does depend towards his Olympic aim.

These competitions aren’t simply far aside. They’re vastly totally different.

On the elite stage, conventional breaking occasions usually embody a small variety of chosen athletes, considerably free guidelines for judging and a format closely centered on placing on present.

Its youthful viewers is what attracted the Worldwide Olympic Committee within the first place, however the Olympic highlight additionally adjustments a sport. Breaking now has a world rating system, extra rigorous guidelines and codecs that embody a whole bunch of athletes, making for competitors days as much as 12 hours lengthy.

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“You may really feel much more stress on the Olympic-related occasions,” Kim mentioned. “In fact, you realize, everybody’s making an attempt to go there and so it’s much more critical.”

Philip Kim, also known as Canadian b-boy Phil Wizard, is hoping to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics when breakdancing debuts as an Olympic sport.

That’s a course of that different freestyle sports activities corresponding to skateboarding and snowboarding have already gone via. Whereas there was somewhat grumbling about shedding a few of the enjoyable and free spirit within the trade, it’s simple that the Olympics open a whole lot of doorways.

Wizard, for instance, is now a carded athlete and receives Sport Canada funding identical to elite rivals in additional conventional sports activities. And he has a brand new sponsor: Lululemon, Staff Canada’s clothes shop via the 2028 Los Angeles Video games.

“It’s good to be acknowledged for the work that we’re placing in and it makes it really feel like, oh, that is really occurring,” he mentioned.

Breaking traces its roots to the streets of New York and the hip-hop tradition of the Seventies, however the Olympics have created renewed curiosity. The drive to be one of many elite 32 who make it to the Video games together with elevated sources to assist athletes practice, journey and higher perceive the brand new judging system are propelling the game ahead.

“The extent is exponentially more and more on a regular basis,” Kim mentioned. “There’s extra youngsters getting concerned, extra folks pushing more durable … this yr and the subsequent yr are going to be unbelievable, and very troublesome.”

Kim added that he’s open to pushing the issue of his strikes to maintain tempo with the adjustments — to a degree.

“I’m going to ensure I’m not shedding the individualism, the model, the originality that personally I’m recognized for, but in addition that’s sort of rooted inside what we do in our tradition,” he mentioned.

Philip Kim, who competes as Phil Wizard, is Canada's top breaking athlete and well placed to qualify for the Olympic debut of breaking at the 2024 Paris Games.

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It takes ability, coaching and unbelievable health to carry out the explosive, gravity-defying strikes and freezes which might be in essence this sport’s spotlight reel. However breaking values creativity and originality in equal measure, in addition to how a b-boy or b-girl interprets and dances to music blended by stay DJs.

There had been issues that Olympic inclusion would tilt the game towards execution and energy strikes over model and creativity. However in accordance with Geoff Reyes, Canada DanceSport’s director of breaking, that hasn’t been the case.

“The judges themselves and the system in place doesn’t favour one sort of model,” Reyes mentioned.

Kim is taken into account an all-rounder, good in any respect elements of the game, however finest recognized for his artistic, authentic strikes and blissful persona on stage.

“Going into one thing just like the Olympics, I believe it’s an unbelievable alternative and one thing that I’m tremendous excited for, however I don’t need it to vary who I’m and the best way I method my dance,” he mentioned. “Hopefully I can win with the best way that I dance.”

And if his ends in the approaching months take him all the best way to subsequent summer time’s Paris Olympics, he has a plan for these Aeroplan factors.

“My dad and mom have by no means flown top quality, so I wish to, like, fly them (on the entrance of the aircraft),” Kim mentioned. “That’s an enormous aim for me, so I’m accumulating my factors for that.”


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