OQS Shanghai- Park and Street Semifinals Roundup

Written by Niall Neeson

An early start in heat one of Women’s Park Semifinals saw all the skaters save USA’s Minna Stess make their first runs, which are usually seen as a benchmark from which to build in subsequent runs. So it proved, with Grace Marhoefer gamely attempting to tackle the rainbow rail in her subsequent runs- the only woman to do so. Ruby Lilley was the fastest skater in that heat and didn’t let a broken nail stop her ending her last run with a fingerflip lien to tail in the deep end to rapturous applause.

Nana Taboulet backside nose grind WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Haruta 12

Ph: Kenji

The second heat signalled a gear shift with Arisa Trew dominating early with McTwists on lock and switch frontside airs over the hip at 14 years old. Insane. A late Japanese surge saw Kokona Hiraki- has she ever fallen?- and Mizuho Hasegawa overtake Arisa and all the second heat bar Hinano Kusaki proceed to the finals. Her spot was taken by Bryce Wettstein who left it until her las run to squeak in by .12 of a point, an achievement which moved her to tears. High drama indeed.

womens park semifinals

Heat 1 of Men’s Street was comfortably dominated by a wildly in-form Gustavo Ribeiro who is skating with the conviction of a man with something to prove following his disappointment in Tokyo last December. The only 90+ Run score in his heat and three Best Tricks including two north of 90 made him a runaway leader in his group. The only skaters close to him in Heat 1 were the powerful Brazilian Giovanni Vianna who himself bagged two 90+ scores in Best Trick and Chris Joslin who hasn’t had the best Road To Paris thus far but gave good account of himself here with a strong first run and his choice of 3 Best Tricks. The well-liked Canadian Matt Berger had a great Best Trick section and will no doubt rue not completing either Run fully.

Sora Shirai 180 switch crook WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Haruta 14

Ph: Kenji

Such are the margins between success and failure at this level. How small are they? Well, put it like this: while it may have been theoretically (just) possible to make the finals without a single score of 90 or above, everybody we will see tomorrow did. Jagger Eaton, who qualified in first despite competing in both disciplines today, compatriot Nyjah Huston and Japanese upstart Ginwoo Onodera each had three. Although there are three finalists each from the USA and Japan, among their number will not be crowd favourite Sora Shirai who only made a single Best Trick and now has much to do in Budapest next month to keep his Olympic hopes alive.

Mens Street Semifinals

Men’s Park Heat 1 featured some big names who don’t normally frequent the early running order and the surprises didn’t stop there.

Wildman Pedro Barros almost completed all three of his runs which would have been a first for him because he pushes the envelope more than anybody else. The usually consistent Gavin Bottger on the other hand had to make do with his opener as his last two came adrift, the first of those on the out-ledge we warned about yesterday. Alex Sorgente came perilously close to half-cabbing onto the rainbow which nobody else would dare attempt. Japan’s Yuro Nagahara completed the massive transfer over the outledge not once but three times, however he could not complete a run as his luck deserted him yet again. Joining him in the bad luck zone was Brazilian powerhouse Pedro Carvalho who was denied twice on a 360 kickflip grab over the funbox only to make it at the third time of asking and then run out of road on the very next wall.

Jagger Eaton 50 50 WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Atiba Jefferson

Ph: Atiba

If you ever want to know about the see-sawing nature of skateboarding, spare a thought for Spain’s Danny Leon: outright winner in his division just two short months ago, he was denied a full run here tonight. Joining him in the stands tomorrow will be Australia’s Keefer Wilson, tipped right here as a potential winner yesterday only to be edged out late this evening by Jagger Eaton’s third and only complete run. Jagger, who progressed first in Street earlier, contests both finals tomorrow. Busy boy.

Mens park semis

One of the most charming things about this entire event has been the Chinese crowd’s support of their domestic talent and nowhere has that been more on display than in Women’s Street. Although they have been comparative outliers on the World Skateboarding Tour with only Chenxi Cui having made a final before now, Wenhui ‘Zoe’ Zeng has had a storming OQS including a backside tailslide on a 9-stair handrail in her Best Trick section. That is pioneering progress and a testament to the tutelage of her mentor, former Brazilian pro Rodrigo Petersen. With all that said, Women’s Street tonight was still dominated by the all-conquering Japanese youth armada. Remarkably, current Olympic champion Momiji Nishiya entered the Best Trick phase well off the pace having stumbled while pushing on flat, something that while no means impossible is pretty much unheard of at this level. Skateboarding, as we noted yesterday, can be cruel in that regard. Faring better was teammate Funa Nakayama, who seems to have put her consistency issues to bed and was all smiles accordingly. Liz Akama has been the stealth story of the Japanese scene, having emerged victorious at WST Rome 2023 and then repeating the feat in Dubai at the start of this year. Based on tonight's performance, don't bet against her doing the same again here tomorrow. She set a record by making both full runs and all five best tricks, a feat which has never been done before.

Chloe Clovell kickflip 2 WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Atiba Jefferson 7

Ph: Atiba

No discussion of female skateboarding today can take place without bringing up the meteoric glow-up of Australian wunderkind Chloe Covell, who joined the World Skateboarding Tour as a whippersnapper back in Rome 2022 and is now arguably the best in the world less than 2 years later. Improving from stop to stop, she will be giving her competition sleepless nights- but for the rest of us what a joy to behold. Women’s skateboarding is really going places right now, and Chloe Covell is at the forefront of that.

womens street semis