As It Was: WST Dubai Street 2024!

Written by Niall Neeson

WST Dubai Street always promised to be something different, given its status as final stop of this pre-Olympic cycle of the World Skateboarding Tour. The battling format of Open qualifications right down to finals which always ask everything of all involved make WST events a very different kind of arena for skateboarding.

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Skateboarders can blow up out of nowhere and progress along the Tour while sometimes established names do not. Added to that the kind of last-chance-saloon atmosphere for people hoping to progress through the OWSR rankings into the upcoming Olympic Qualifier Series, and the sense that we would see some new faces at the very highest levels come nightfall that Sunday in Dubai was palpable.

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So it would prove to be: with only a single Brazilian in the finals and three new faces making their first appearance in the last sixteen, we had a contest full of lightning-quick changes right down to the last trick.

207 skaters entered in total, so as ever thanks not only to all of you, but all the staff and as always our hosts Arada!

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Yukito Aoki

One of the attractions of the Best Trick format is that everything can change very quickly. In what was perhaps surprisingly only Yukito Aoki's second finals on the WST (he has also made semifinals twice), his power and consistency saw him well-positioned coming out of the Run phase but he had a Best Trick section where luck evaded him at every turn.

Luck changes, however, and Yukito is well-positioned to take advantage of it when it does.

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Matt Berger

A Tour-best result for Matt Berger and he put moves like nollie frontside bluntslide down as the opening trick in his Run section with the kind of conviction that let's you know he means it. Although his nollie Bennett grind in Best Trick was good enough for a ladder-climbing 90, he was otherwise unfortunate in a section where in that regard he was not alone.

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Ryan Decenzo

A both welcome and deserved return to the WST finals for a skateboarder who has the admiration of everybody. One of two Canadians giving the finals their own particular energies which in itself was one of the great features of the men's contest in Dubai. Unlucky in Best Trick but a real star turn from a skateboarder who has pretty much done it all up to now already. He never gives less than his all of him, all the time.

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Richard Tury

The charming Slovakian's second 5th place of the Tour was also his third final overall of this Season, which is a fact that should not go unacknowledged in a field where the seeds are very much all-in. Strategically smart enough to bag two mid-80's Best Tricks during a fallow period of a section where 67.5% of Best Tricks were missed overall, he can be happy that he plotted a steady course through waters that threw a lot of others to the rocks.

Gin woo Onodara bigflip front board WST Street WCH OQS Dubai Anthony Acosta 14

Ginwoo Onodera

With the theme of the finals seemingly being a question of seeing who's moment had come then you won't find someone knocking on the door harder than Ginwoo. Prodigiously gifted at a level which anybody is welcome to come and step to if they think they can, his challenge is precisely the shortening odds of doing tricks that would round out a video part from 3 angles versus the knowledge that if he makes them, he would be potentially un-catchable. The amount of time he has on his side to enjoy the ride only seems likely to make him somehow better, and that mix could make him a future dominator.

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Sora Shirai
On a night of new WST records came Sora Shirai, the maestro that he has become. 19 points adrift of first coming out of the Run section, Sora finished with a WST Season-high 97 last trick to close out the contest in absolute scenes. A continual crowd favorite, he has become a consummate entertainer who has grown in assurance all along the way. Not even a once in a generation talent, a genuine one-off.

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Gustavo Ribeiro
Fantastic: what more can be said? Gustavo Ribeiro is in a seam of form which has been shaped by his long and winding road thus far. He has never looked sharper or more determined, and at just the right moment. He may have missed out on victory by the narrowest of margins ever recorded on the WST- 0.04 of a point- but he can take comfort in the fact that otherwise he had one of his best-ever Tour performances going into the OQS bottleneck- something which won't be lost on everyone else.

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Kairi Netsuke
Now, it is easy to say in retrospect that something seems to have been incoming for Kairi, but having come 4th in Lausanne and 2nd in Tokyo his first WST victory could come as no surprise to anyone who has seen just how good he has been all along the Tour. Already a heelflip great and skating with a lot of intent, he is undeniable right now. He seems destined to be in and around podiums for as long as he chooses: that's how good he is.

In the Women's contest which ended WST Dubai, a remarkable 5 of 8 finalists were Japanese- and none of them were either their Olympic medalists or current World Champion.

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Rayssa Leal

Nothing is written in skateboarding; Rayssa Leal had a perfect second run that put her momentarily in third, but she was just plain unlucky during a Best Trick section in which most gambles lost this time around. That is just how high the stakes are in women's skateboarding these days. With that said, although Rayssa may not pick it out as her best performance she nevertheless is the only woman to make every single finals on the World Skateboarding Tour and as such was comfortably through into the Olympic Qualifier Series as what may. Looking mighty as ever, Rayssa remains the pacesetter going forward.

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Chenxi Cui

The highest-ranked Chinese skater in the women's division posted her Tour-best result in what was her second final back-to-back. Without being able to complete either Run she was less than ideally placed going into Best Trick but made her first two: kickflip backside 50-50 on the long hubba and flip backside 5-0 the big one. She gamely attempted 3 subsequent kickflip backside lipslides but as was the case with most of the women's field in Best Trick, 2 would be as many makes as she could bring home. As with Tokyo, the experience demonstrates what is possible for the 14-year old who has come up the OWSR rankings considerably as a result.

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Nanaka Fujisawa

If there were not enough superlatives for the Japanese contribution to WST Dubai Street, then add to it that the finals were also blessed for the first time by the presence of Nanaka Fujisawa. The charismatic and energized 22-year old, somewhat insanely, made a pop shove it to frontside 50-50 on a round handrail during her Best Trick di lei. Her complete second run scored a 73 which was some 20 off first at that point, but I think its fair to say she impressed everyone throughout and brought a different dimension to the finals with her. She was also terrifying as a fan, cheering her teammates along. Lots of smiles throughout. Everybody was hyped.

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Miyu Ito

In a finals dominated by the intra-Japanese machinations of having five women involved none of whom were either the current World Champ or their two Tokyo medalists, Miyu Ito's second 5th place of the Tour belies how good she has become. The women's Best Trick was quite chaotic through missed tricks almost across the board, but with Miyu dropping in first to kick off the contest her first run score counted when her second di lei ran aground on a courageous backside tailslide attempt on the hubba halfway through. Had the second run materialized, she would have been in podium contention but then that's one of the great hypotheticals of everything, I guess. Nonetheless, one to watch. She finished just 10 points off podium contention.

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Ibuki Matsumoto

Ibuki Matsumoto entered WST Dubai as part of a Japanese strategy of giving newcomers big-event experience by entering them right at the end of the WST when their results made no difference and therefore no pressure. Sena Watanabe made Semi's in the Mens as a result, while 12-year-old Ibuki Matsumoto became one of the stories of the contest by just missing out on a podium at the first WST stop she entered. Qualifying in first out of the Open phase, she powered through the Run sections of the final with two perfect ones to choose from just as she did in the Semi's. The Best Trick section claimed a lot of scalps, however, with 57.5% of tricks missed- and Ibuki may have just run out of gas somewhat by her final backside 180 fakie nosegrind attempts. Still, a shockingly uncompromising debut.

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Coco Yoshizawa

Yet another great Japanese storyline of WST Dubai was that of the great stealth contender Coco Yoshizawa making her first Tour podium just when she needed to. Having made four finals out of 6 on the WST and carrying through a respectable but mid-table Run score into Best Trick, her first two were enough to put her into medal contention because nobody besides Liz Akama made more than that.

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Chloe Covell

In a super-close second came Chloe Covell who, not withstanding Rayssa Leal's Tour dominance and Yumeka Oda's recent run of success, most people would have guessed was going to power through at this last time of asking on a Tour on which she has now taken second place three times. With two huge Run scores of 89 and 93, she landed 2 of 5 Best Tricks but needed to make her final Overcrook Nollie Flip out to improve upon second place, but it wasn't to be.

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Liz Akama

Liz Akama's second win on the WST after taking top spot in Rome last summer was if anything more emphatic than her first. With a Run upgrade to include a bigspin heelflip she was looking assured and focused going into Best Trick, and only missed one. As in Rome, a victory which required a lot of poise under pressure but here she made an event-highest 4 of 5 Best Tricks and is looking every part the new wave of Japanese female skateboarding.