As It Was: OQS Shanghai In Review

Written by Niall Neeson

A very different experience on the Road To Paris for our skateboarders this time around, as the World Skateboarding Tour fed into the Olympic Qualifier Series alongside Breaking, Climbing and BMX Freestyle.

Keefer Wilson kickflip indy WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Hurata 12

Keefer Wilson, kickflip indy. Ph: Kenji

Although many of you reading this will already be familiar with what that entails, let’s back up a bit on behalf of those who have just joined us. Put simply, the Olympic Qualifier Series is a double-headed qualification event pairing which determines which skateboarders from the World Skateboarding Tour will go forward to represent their countries in the Paris Olympic Games this summer.

Megan guy and Samantha Secours WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Atiba Jefferson 9

Meagan Guy and Samantha Secours share a LOL. Ph: Atiba

Having progressed to the top 44 via the World Skateboarding Tour, each of the OQS stops (the first being Shanghai earlier this month, the latter being Budapest mid-next) offer up a third of the overall Olympic points each.

Roos Zwetsloot lipslide WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Atiba Jefferson 2

Roos Zwetsloot, lipslide. Ph: Atiba

Although skateboarding was taking place alongside the other Olympic activities, it appeared to be by some distance the biggest draw with the large, roaming crowd.

Pedro Barros peace WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Hurata 29

The inimitable Pedro Barros. Ph: Kenji

The event took place in a vast naval shipyard of such scale that just one of the dry docks alone was big enough to host both our contests- with room for around a thousand seated spectators, besides. They don’t do things by half-measures in China.

Jagge Eaton switch backside noseblunt WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Atiba Jefferson 19

Jagger Eaton, switch back noseblunt. Ph: Atiba

Now, although on paper this would operate just like any other World Skate contest- albeit with less entrants (44 per division, going down to 22 for Paris)- there can be little doubt that the raised stakes and nervousness played its hand with some entrants.

Brigitte MOrales mute grab WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Haruta 21

Brigitte Morales, mute. Ph: Kenji

One of the early signs of that was in Men’s Park, where the adrenaline rush meant that more skaters came unstuck on liptricks than bailed airs. It made for a nervy finals which benefited from a resurgent Kieran Woolley and full-strength Keegan Palmer.

Nyjah Huston horizontal WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Atiba Jefferson 14

Nyjah Huston recovered well from an unexpected quarterpipe slam. Gap to back smith. Ph: Atiba

Despite posting two of the four-highest scoring runs, Jagger Eaton found himself in third behind Keegan’s final barnstorming run and emerging star Tate Carew- who has looked increasingly like taking top spot every time we have seen him so far.

Tate Carew nose grind WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Hurata 32

Tate Carew, snowploughing nosegrind with the balance of a cat. Ph: Kenji

The atmosphere for Women’s Park finals was everything you hoped an event like this in China might bring with it. A lot of autographs were signed and the applause from a full house rippled around inside the hangar throughout. The level of interest is clearly there.

Wenhui Zeng park portrait WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Haruta

Zoe Zeng suddenly finds herself in front of a home crowd for the first time on the Road To Paris. Ph: Kenji

As we mentioned elsewhere, Arisa Trew established in Shanghai that at 14 she is already a great. Switch melon over the funbox is, in its own way, every bit as impressive as her superb aerial repertoire. Joining her on the podium were Japanese duo Kokona Hiraki, who has been the most consistent skater throughout the Road To Paris regardless of gender or discipline, and Sakura Yosozumi, who has had a far from smooth journey from the last Olympics to this one and will have been glad to have bagged those vital points when it mattered.

Heili Sirvio 540 WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Haruta 19

Heili Sirvio, 540. Ph: Kenji

On the matter of well-timed attacks in the Women's division, it was Poe Pinson in Street who brought a whole new dimension of gung-ho to her finals under the sage tutelage of Alexis Sablone. Keeping her just off the podium were the slow-burning Japanese battler Coco Yoshizawa in third and her all-round awesome compatriot Liz Akama in second.

Fey Ebert backside smith WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Haruta 9

Fay Ebert, Monty grind. Ph: Kenji

Victory lay emphatically with the current pacesetter Rayssa Leal, who looked more composed and at ease than elsewhere on her road to an assured victory here in China.

Jagger Eaton WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Haruta 10

Jagger Eaton enters the fray with two rigs ready to rock. Ph: Kenji

Men’s Street was Jagger Eaton’s first podium of Finals day, courtesy of three scores in excess of 90 which included a run ending with the almost-never-seen frontside nollie fakie 50-50 on a handrail, a trick with such high slam potential it is reckless to attempt much less throw into a run.

Joeseph Garbaccio nose blunt hubba WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Haruta 5

Joseph Garbaccio, nosebluntslide. Ph: Kenji

In second came Ginwoo Onodera, the only other skateboarder in this final to get three final counted scores in excess of 90, and who ran Jagger to within a point of victory. He should be pleased with his result, here- a more assured performance from him this time out, and, again: just when it matters, too.

Augusto Akio juggling WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Hurata 2

Polymath Augusto Akio. Ph: Kenji

In third- and in some ways the story of Men’s Street- crowd favourite Chris Joslin managed to marshall all his talent together at once and galvanise it into his best Road To Paris result to date. For Chris Joslin to have more Best Trick makes than Gustavo Ribeiro, Kairi Netsuke and Gio Vianna put together seems like the unlikeliest of storylines, but there it was.

Gustavo Ribeiro kickflip fornt board WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Atiba jefferson 7

Gustavo Ribeiro, kickflip front board. Ph: Atiba

With so much on the line perhaps the OQS upsets were inevitable; whether they replay or reverse themselves in Hungary remains the most exciting prospect yet to be realised as we come to the arrowhead now whistling toward Paris.

Chenxi Chu WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Atiba Jefferson

Chenxi Cui. Ph: Atiba

As the OQS rolls out of Shanghai, it would be great if we could for one last time thank all our hosts, DJ Redbeard, MC’s Tim O’Connor and Greg Poissonnier, all the drivers and everybody else who played their role in an epic Shanghai stop on the Road To Paris 2024.

Isadora Pacheco invert WST Street WCH OQS shanghai Kenji Haruta 7

Isa Pacheco fully inverted. Ph:Kenji

Budapest: here we come!