Olympic Qualifier Series- A Viewer's Guide

Written by Niall Neeson

The narrowing Road To Paris has brought us here, then: the top 44 skateboarders as so characterised by the OWSR in both Park and Street meet up here in sunny Shanghai on the first part of a two-legged qualifier. After the second leg which takes place next month in Budapest, the fields are halved leaving us the elite 22 in each discipline who we will then see in Paris.

The story up to this point has been formed by the World Skateboarding Tour.

What Is The World Skateboarding Tour?

Liz Akama 180 nose grind WST Street WCH OQS Dubai Anthony Acosta 13

The World Skateboarding Tour incorporates both Pro Tour and World Championship events in both Street and Park, all of which offer the opportunity to gather OWSR ranking points toward qualification for the Paris Olympic Games of 2024.
The Street and Park events took place at different locations throughout 2022 and 2023 before returning to the UAE early in 2024:

  • World Street Skateboarding Rome 26 June- 3 July 2022
  • WST Sharjah World Championships Street 2022 Jan 29-Feb 5(*23)
  • WST Sharjah World Championships Park 2022 Feb 5- 12(*23)
  • WST San Juan Park May 21-28 2023
  • WST Rome Street June 18-25 2023
  • WST Lausanne Street Sept 09-16 2023
  • WST Rome Park World Championships Oct 1-8 2023
  • WST Tokyo Street World Championships 10-17 Dec 2023
  • WST Dubai (UAE) Park 25 Feb-03 March 2024
  • WST Dubai (UAE) Street 03 March-10 March 2024

The World Skateboarding Tour staggered the number of events any single skater could credit points from, which allowed skateboarders to choose the events which best suited them, or to improve upon earlier performances. The period from World Street Skateboarding Rome 2022 up to and including WST Dubai Pro Tour  in March 2024 acted as ‘Phase 1’ of Paris 2024 Olympic Qualification.
Starting from Phase 2 (Olympic Qualification Series) beginning here in Shanghai, only the 44 athletes qualified from Phase 1 will be eligible to earn OWSR points. As a consequence, the 22 skaters who will participate in the Paris 2024 Olympics will be selected from those who compete in Phase 2 here in Shanghai and then Budapest.

What To Look Out For

Now, the OQS is not merely a ‘first past the post’ qualification for the top 22 skateboarders in each discipline.

IOC fair play rules mean that not only must each continent be represented in Paris, but individual nations can only have a maximum of 3 finalists per gender in each event. The rationale here is to prevent nations in which a sport was invented to dominate it unfairly due to historical advantage. What that means for the OQS is that not only is the competition between nations but within teams themselves to snap up those quota spots. Let’s take a look at some of the intriguing dynamics there.


Tom Schaar Ally op 540 2 World Skate WST Park San Juan Park 2023 Piero Capannini 58

Perhaps surprisingly, the United States do not dominate competitive skateboarding in anything like the way that a lay person might imagine given their cultural weight and heritage within the activity. In fact, in Women’s Street they don’t currently have a contender. Where they have surged late in the WST, however, has been Men’s Park where newcomer Tate Carew has improved consistently throughout the Tour and now stands on the cusp of becoming a torch-bearer there. Compatriots joining him high up the leaderboard are 2023 World Champion Gavin Bottger who has recovered from a broken wrist at the WST Sharjah 2022 World Championships to make the last two podiums comfortably and is looking like a current pacesetter. Rounding out that Men’s Park triumvirate is Jagger Eaton, the 2022 Park World Champion who is is also competing in Street. Despite some comparatively patchy performances since Sharjah, the fiercely competitive Arizona native knows how to galvanise in the biggest moments so write him off at your peril.


Ryassa Leal front blunt finals WorldSkate WST Street RomePark 2023 Jake Darwen 11

Brazil has a long history of competitive skateboarding in a nation where the activity is second only to soccer in terms of participation. They have, in Rayssa Leal, the biggest name in women’s skateboard worldwide and one of only two ladies likely to prevent a Japanese clean sweep in Women’s Street. The Brazilians’ other strength is in Men’s Park where two-time WST winner and current World Champion Luigi Cini is joined not only by the sublimely talented Augusto Akio (silver, 2022 World Championships) but, of course, the wild man of the discipline Pedro Barros. Although he has not graced a WST podium since coming 3rd in Sharjah but with luck on his side could prove unbeatable, such is the enormity of his talent.


Kairi Netsuke back noseblunt 3 WST Street WCH OQS Dubai Anthony Acosta 20

The Japanese arrival on the international scene was the story of Tokyo 2020, where they took 3 of 4 golds on home turf. Since then Women’s Park winner Sakura Yosozumi has been on the comeback path from injury in which time Kokona Hiraki has come to dominate the podiums there alongside the come-from-nowhere Hinano Kusaki who has proved one of the discoveries of the Tour. All 3 however will be mindful of the return of Britain’s bronze Olympian and 2022 World Champion Sky Brown who was devastating in her last outing, WST San Juan. In Street we can say with some assurance Japan will have some presence on the Women’s podium- so total is their dominance that only Rayssa Leal and Australia’s Chloe Covell can prevent a Japanese clean sweep there. In Men’s Street it is an altogether different affair, with current Olympic gold medallist Yuto Horigome having had a patchy Tour results-wise and Sora Shirai building momentum at just the right time. Less established but terrifyingly consistent Kairi Netsuke will seek to build on his latest victory at WST Dubai and hold off the prodigious youngster Ginwoo Onodera who, like Pedro Barros but at the other end of the scale, needs luck to rhyme with his talent in order to deliver his best.


Naia Laso backside 360 WST Street WCH OQS Dubai Bryce Kanights

We cannot conclude this whistle-stop review of the potential storylines you are likely to see play out at OQS Shanghai without drawing attention to the biggest sleeper story of them all. Uniquely among European nations, Spain under the leadership of Head Coach Alain Goikoetxea have quietly put together a Park team which won both top spots at our final Tour stop in Dubai in an upset which is still reverberating throughout the ranks. Veteran Danny Leon has worked hard under the radar to polish his craft and breakout newcomer Naia Laso seems to all the world like a new superstar in the making. An incredible and largely unsung story which has won the admiration of many.

These, then, are just some of the narrative currents intertwining as we enter OQS Shanghai, all wrapped within the self-evident beauty of the fact that, as the World Skateboarding Tour has shown us since Tokyo, anything can happen along the way. That’s what makes it all so exciting!