OQS Shanghai- Men’s Street and Women’s Park Prelims!

Written by Niall Neeson

Let’s kick off our rolling Olympic Qualifier Series with a word about the venue, shall we?

This is the first- ever OQS event, acting as a qualifier not just for skateboarding but for BMX Freestyle, Breaking and Sport Climbing too. Each has their own arena within the footprint of this gigantic former naval shipyard on the Huangpu river, which provides a visionary and ambitious location for what amounts to a new kind of festival concept. I think all of the other events hosted as part of this OQS would join skateboarding in tipping our collective hats to the organisers for first envisioning, and then delivering, such an achievement. It really is impressive to walk into something of this scale. Ticket sales must have been brisk too, because it was busy from early today. We should also take time here to note how awesome the crowd are, cheering even broken runs. The skateboarders really seem to appreciate that enthusiasm.

The Street F.O.P. (Field Of Play- a technical term used to cover any sporting terrain pertaining to the Olympics) is a step up from our last few outings in terms of dimensions- being as it is a split-level affair which hosts as centrepiece a big 9-stair rail section. That may not sound big but, as you know, there are stairs and stairs. Well, these stairs were absolutely enormous. Shane O’Neill clipped the last one on a backside nollie heelflip attempt and left the course clutching his elbow as a result.

The course also features a lot of rails- seven in total- as well as a kind of rounded central hubba with an out-ledge attached from about the second stair down. Absolutely huge, and looks guaranteed to claim some broken boards.

Next door, the Park F.O.P. is just enormous- and, for the first time since the 2022 Sharjah World Championship, there is no central feature.

(San Juan had a funbox slap bang in the shallow end, Ostia had a spine to teardrop volcano, and Dubai had both a huge funbox and a vertcano). The tabletop funbox here in Shanghai is not only comparatively smaller than that which we saw in Dubai two months ago, but is also offset slightly from the centre of the park meaning it is possible to avoid altogether should you so choose. Jutting out from a nearside hip and featuring an almost freestanding, more-or-less flatbar across it, this idiosyncratic feature looks set to be the most intriguing and potentially hazardous obstacle on the course. Only the courageous or foolhardy will gamble on that bad boy mid-run, one suspects.

Taken in the round, although the Park dimensions may have been daunting (14 feet deep in places, or to put it another way, twice over head-height), there is also space to recover and re-compose mid-run. Conversely, you also stand to lose a lot of speed if you are unwary. That’s where good coaching advice comes in, and the coaches were very active during practice as a result.

So: a very different layout and larger footprint for the Park event than we have seen previously, as befits the stepping-up of expectations all-round for this second phase.

The first point of order in Park was the news that hotly-tipped UK entrant Sky Brown was out after sustaining a late pre-event injury for the second time on the Road To Paris (the first being prior to WST Ostia the previous October). Her second injury in eight months turned what was expected to be something close to a formality in progressing toward Paris into a much bigger challenge for her, and automatically reshuffled the deck in Shanghai before we had even begun today. Teammate Lola Tambling also withdrew hurt after practice, meaning Lilly Strachan was left as the sole torchbearer for the UK in Women’s Park. Also joining Lola on the injured list before Prelims was Spain’s Naia Laso, who had her arm in a sling by the time her time to skate rolled around.

Pre-event injuries also played their cards in Street, where both French stars of the Men’s event Vincent Milou and Aurelien Giraud withdrew ahead of the contest citing injuries.

Biggest news of the Men’s Street Prelims, however, was Tokyo gold medalist Yuto Horigome missing the cut by 0.07 of a point. With five of his countrymen advancing to the Semifinals, he is left with a huge task ahead of him come Budapest next month. Such is the always exciting but occasionally cruel nature of competitive skateboarding, unfortunately.

Remember you can follow all the action courtesy of our friends at the Olympics here!

Men's Street Prelim Results

mstreet prelims

Women's Park Prelim Results

wpark prelim results