WST Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 Open Qualifier Results

Written by Niall Neeson

After a couple of overcast practice days, the first phase of this week’s WST Street World Championship Tokyo eliminations began with two days of Open Qualifiers, through which the field of more than 220 entrants from over 50 countries have been whittled down. As if sensing that the action was ready to begin, the Tokyo skies have cleared and we have an azure canopy framing the city as the World Championship gets underway in earnest.

This is how the qualification system for the week works: the top 5 ranked athletes in the Official World Skate Ranking skip the Open Qualifiers and are pre-seeded directly into the latter phase of the competition. The top 27 qualifiers then join the 5 pre-seeded to give us tomorrow’s quarter-finals of 32; those 32 are then halved into 16 for Saturday’s semi-finals. Those 16 will then be halved again for the 8-person finals which we are bringing you live and direct around the globe this Sunday on a variety of broadcast platforms from which you can choose your preferred medium here.

Valentina Petric noseslide hubba womens Qualifiers WST Street WCH Tokyo 2023 Kenji Haruta 20

Ph: Kenji Haruta

Making it as far as those semi-finals is in some regards the hard part, since the qualifiers and quarter-finals run on a 45-second run format, of which each entrant gets two with their highest-scoring one counting. If you make it beyond the quarter-finals, the introduction of a best-trick section offers 5 attempts at redemption if you fluff your runs, which by then only count for a third of your overall score- with your two best tricks making up the remainder. Here in open qualifiers, however, it is all about consistency right at the very top end of ability.

Now: you may think that with those two days of practice, dialling in a run should be no big thing, but a couple of course features introduce an element of strategy which is already beginning to tell as the week wears on.

The course cascades down from high to low, encompassing a big stair section with 9 long stairs to negotiate which then gives way to a smaller driveway section about a single pushes-worth of distance away. What makes the course flow interesting is that all the hubba ledges and inclined rails face in the same direction, meaning that just negotiating those first two phases of the course only run down approximately ten seconds of your allotted time. What tricks the skaters were able to add when returning in the opposite direction proved pivotal to overall scores, and in some sense is the hidden points opportunity within the run phase.

Marti Atanasov Mens Qualifires WST Street WCH Tokyo 2023 Kenji Haruta

Ph: Kenji Haruta

This is where the coaches had their work cut out, because although the spectacular stair section might grab the immediate attention, the differentiator in run score outcome sometimes proved to be what could be thrown down in the smaller driveway section and the horizontal bars and ledges while rolling in the opposite direction.

The most impressive newcomers so far in the Women’s contest have been Czech teenager Laura Zackova who progressed into the quarter-finals in 13th place from an OWSR position of 77th coming into Tokyo, and  China’s Yuanling Zhu who qualified in 23rd from previously having been ranked 74th. In the corresponding Men’s division, Peruvian member of the IOC’s Youth Athlete Development programme Deivid Tuesta held the top spot for much of today and qualified comfortably as did Japanese unknown Taiga Nagai who joined no less than 7 of his countrymen going through from today's showdown in Tokyo.

GEEZ WST 2023 Tokyo Street WorldChampionship Result Mens Qualifier

So these, then, are our quarter-finalists for tomorrow. Lock down your aerials for more updates then!