September 25, 2022

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When Samuel Cyr took up breakdancing 15 years ago, he never thought he’d be training to represent Canada in the sport at the Olympics. 

“I was very, very bad at the beginning,” laughed Cyr, now a breaker on the small Canadian national team headed by the non-profit Breaking Canada. 

Now, with breakdancing making its debut at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, Montrealers like Cyr and other Olympic hopefuls are showcasing their talent at Montreal’s Olympic Park, where one of Canada’s biggest action sports festivals is taking place this weekend. 

Montreal’s Jackalope festival is back after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Running Aug. 19 to 21, some 500 extreme sports athletes from 20 countries will be participating in a variety of sports, including skateboarding, base jumping, bouldering, BMX, and for the first time ever: breakdancing. 

Samuel Cyr is training to compete in breakdancing at the 2024 Olympics. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC News)

“For me, the more people that are going to see it, the more people are going to start doing it and the more people are going to have fun with it,” Cyr said. 

“It’s cool that the public is interested in it.”

It’s a feeling Alannah Yip can relate to. The 28-year-old sport climber made history at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as the first Canadian woman to compete in the sport’s Olympic debut. 

Alannah Yip made history at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as the first Canadian woman to compete in sport climbing. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC News)

“It was amazing, it was so exciting. I was so honoured to be a part of the first inclusion of climbing in the games,” she said. 

She’s now hoping to qualify for the 2024 Olympics again and be able to participate again — this time, without pandemic restrictions. 

Jackalope’s executive producer Micah Desforges says there’s a lot of hype this year around the new sports recently added to the Olympics.

Micah Desforges, executive producer of Jackolope, says extreme sports enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies are happy to be back after a two-year hiatus. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC News)

“We got kids from the U.S. and from Brazil, from the rest of Canada coming to compete and try to build a name for themselves,” he said, adding the energy at this year’s festival is unparalleled to years prior. 

“It’s our 10th anniversary this weekend, and … the people are going crazy.”

Despite the festival drawing some of the country’s best athletes, Desforges touts the event as a fun, welcoming space for people of all levels of expertise. 

“There’s a bunch of folks that just register for the experience of being, you know, on course with some of the best athletes out there,” he said. 

“That’s the beauty of Jackalope, you know, yes, there’s a competition. Yes, there is money up for grabs, lots of media attention … But it’s also just a big party.”

Created in Montreal, the festival will be expanding to the U.S. for the first time next summer in Virginia Beach, with plans to branch out to several continents in years to come. 

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