• Vie. May 17th, 2024

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OQS 2024: Know the Japanese skateboarders in action

#OQS #Japanese #skateboarders #action

The Olympic Qualifier Series (OQS) 2024 will be a bumper display of multi-sport action and for skateboarders set to compete in the event, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

By the end of the two-part process, kicking off in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China from 16-19 May and concluding in Budapest, Hungary on 20-23 June, the field for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 will be known with 20 skaters set to obtain a quota spot.

The Olympic qualifying journey so far has been long and testing.

Over the past two years, park and street skaters have been competing in phase one of qualification. That entailed stops across the world, where World Skate Ranking (WSR) points were awarded based on finishing positions. More points were up for grabs at World championship events to raise the intensity. From all competitions, only the top four results contributed towards their ranking.

Following the final stop of phase one in Dubai in February this year a cut to the field was made. Only the top 44 eligible skaters were invited to partake in phase two of qualifying: OQS.

Just as with phase one, WSR points will be the ultimate determinant as to who will secure a quota spot for Paris 2024 but for the two OQS stops, the ante has been upped.

The points on offer will be worth nearly three times more in Shanghai and Budapest than in the World championships in phase one, meaning no one is safe and everything is to skate for.

But there’s more.

Only three skaters from one National Olympic Committee (NOC) can compete at the Games meaning that for countries where there is depth, the battle will not just be to finish in the top 20. They must also finish in the top three. For the likes of Australia, United States, Brazil and Japan, where inter-country competition is fiercest, an extra layer of intrigue is at play.

So, what does this all mean for the skaters of Team Japan who will be taking part in OQS?

In the below, Olympics.com runs the rule over the skaters hitting the Olympic park bowl and street rails and examining the lay of the land ahead of Shanghai.

As National Olympic Committees have the exclusive authority for the representation of their respective countries at the Olympic Games, athletes’ participation at the Paris Games depends on their NOC selecting them to represent their delegation at Paris 2024.

Click here to see the official qualification system for each sport.

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16 – 19 May

Olympic Qualifier Series 2024 | Shanghai – People’s Republic of China
Olympic Qualifier Series 2024 | Shanghai

Japanese Skateboarders at OQS 2024: Men’s Street

The World Skateboarding Ranking is made up of the best four Olympic qualifying results from phase one.

1. Shirai Sora, 22

WSR Points: 182,553

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • Street World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 8th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2023 – 2nd
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 1st
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Dubai Street 2024 – 3rd

5. Netsuke Kairi, 20

WSR Points: 147,835

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • Street World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 23rd
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Lausanne Street 2023 – 4th
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 2nd
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Dubai Street 2024 – 1st

6. Onodera Ginwoo, 14

WSR Points: 125,963

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • Street World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 3rd
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2023 – 12th
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 6th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Dubai Street 2024 – 4th

7. Horigome Yuto, 25

WSR Points: 106,120

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2022 – 8th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Lausanne Street 2023 – 5th
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 3rd
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Dubai Street 2024 – 9th

10. Sasaki Toa, 17

WSR Points: 79,687

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2022 – 10th
  • Street World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 16th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Lausanne Street 2023 – 2nd
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 11th

15. Aoki Yukito, 20

WSR Points: 60,030

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2022 – 12th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Lausanne Street 2023 – 6th
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 12th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Dubai Street 2023 – 8th

World champion Shirai Sora will lead the Japanese men street skaters at OQS

World champion Shirai Sora will lead the Japanese men street skaters at OQS

(World Skate: Jeremiah Arias)

Japan Men’s Street Skateboarding: The stakes

One theme that has emerged out of Olympic skateboarding since Tokyo 2020 has been Japan’s dominance, particularly in the street division.

With three of the available six medals at Tokyo going to Japanese skaters in the discipline such an observation might not be all that surprising, but very few could have predicted the number of upstarts that have come in the men’s and women’s fields to upset the status quo.

Indeed, the internal competition in team Japan has been so fierce that Olympic champion and superstar skater Horigome Yuto currently finds himself outside the top three in the country.

As the 25-year-old was adjusting to his newfound Olympic status hungry outsiders took the distraction as an opportunity to press ahead. Number one-ranked Shirai Sora, who competed at Tokyo, has shared his fierce commitment to avenge his performance in Japan and his diligently been matching words with action. Aoki Yukito, number six of the Japanese skaters heading to OQS, is another Olympian poised to pounce.

Then there are the new faces who have impressed.

Teenager Onodera Ginwoo grabbed headlines after he appeared seemingly out of nowhere to take third place at the World championships in Sharjah, while Netsuke Kairi has been improving at such a rate with each event that his efforts were recently rewarded with a first place in Dubai, setting him up nicely for Shanghai.

Can Olympic champ Horigome muscle his way back into the top three?

It will be one of the biggest questions surrounding skateboarding at OQS and with so many points at play, anything could happen.

Japanese Skateboarders at OQS 2024: Women’s Street

The World Skateboarding Ranking is made up of the best four Olympic qualifying results from phase one.

1. Nishiya Momiji, 16

WSR Points: 198,800

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2022 – 2nd
  • Street World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 3rd
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Lausanne Street 2023 – 1st
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 3rd

3. Oda Yumeka, 17

WSR Points: 188,000

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2022 – 3rd
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2023 – 3rd
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Lausanne Street 2023 – 2nd
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 1st

5. Akama Liz, 15

WSR Points: 178,771

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • Street World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 4th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2023 – 1st
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 6th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Dubai Street 2024 – 1st

6. Nakayama Funa, 18

WSR Points: 141,774

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2022 – 1st
  • Street World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 5th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Lausanne Street 2023 – 6th
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 7th

7. Yoshizawa Coco, 14

WSR Points: 122,948

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2022 – 6th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Lausanne Street 2023 – 4th
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 5th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Dubai Street 2024 – 3rd

9. Ito Miyu, 16

WSR Points: 79,385

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2022 – 12th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Rome Street 2023 – 5th
  • Street World Championship Tokyo 2023 – 9th
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Dubai Street 2024 – 5th

Nishiya Momiji, Nakayama Fun and Oda Yumeka at World Skateboarding Tour - Rome 2022. 
Nishiya Momiji, Nakayama Fun and Oda Yumeka at World Skateboarding Tour – Rome 2022.  (World Skate: Mezzelani Bruno)

Japan Women’s Street Skateboarding: The stakes

When it comes to women’s street skating Japan is unmatched in depth.

With all six of its skaters qualified for OQS in the top 10 the fight for one of three Olympic quota spots for Japan could be its own standalone drama.

And if phase one is anything to go by twists and turns can be expected.

One steady constant from Tokyo 2020 to the lead-up to Paris 2024 has remained: Olympic champion Nishiya Momiji.

Ever since her gold medal exploits at home in Japan, the 16-year-old hasn’t missed a beat since qualification for Paris began in 2022. Ever-expanding her repertoire of tricks, the Japanese skater has remained the benchmark for the rest of the field, and her four podiums in six qualifying events in phase one point to a deadly consistency that means she can never be counted out.

But even Nishiya’s position now as the No.1 ranked skater hasn’t always been guaranteed. Post-Tokyo has seen the rise of a string of new Japanese skaters who have shot straight to the top of the order.

Freshly minted world champion and number three ranked Oda Yumeka is one such example.

The 17-year-old’s daring and trick selection has seen her repeatedly rewarded with podium finishes while Akama Liz, another newcomer, has made herself known through her style and capacity to come up clutch. A last-ditch frontside 270 lipslide at the final phase one contest in Dubai to snatch the win from Australia’s Chloe Covell handed Akama a second World Skateboarding Tour win and fifth spot in the rankings.

One who has perhaps suffered from the upward pressure coming from below is Nakayama Funa. Though hardly off the pace in sixth, the Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist has struggled for podiums since her win in Rome back in 2022 and is now outside the top three. She will need to reconnect with the confidence that saw her become an Olympic medallist if she is to finish in the top three for Japan.

Sitting behind her, and both very capable of causing an upset, are Yoshizawa Coco and Ito Miyu: two more fresh faces following Tokyo 2020.

14-year-old Yoshizawa, in particular, will be one to watch after she clinched her first podium most recently in Dubai.

Nishiya Momiji will head into OQS as the top-ranked women's street skater
Nishiya Momiji will head into OQS as the top-ranked women’s street skater (World Skate: Norma Ibarra)

Japanese Skateboarders at OQS 2024: Women’s Park

The World Skateboarding Ranking is made up of the best three Olympic qualifying results from phase one.

1. Hiraki Cocona, 15

WSR Points: 184,000

  • Park World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 2nd
  • World Skateboarding Tour San Juan Park 2023 – 5th
  • Park World Championship Rome Ostia 2023 – 1st
  • World Skateboarding Tour – Dubai Park 2024 – 2nd

2. Kusaki Hinano, 16

WSR Points: 136,420

  • Park World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 4th
  • World Skateboarding Tour San Juan Park 2023 – 4th
  • Park World Championship Rome Ostia 2023 – 2nd
  • World Skateboarding Tour Dubai Park 2024 – 16th

5. Yosozumi Sakura, 22

WSR Points: 103,833

  • Park World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 3rd
  • World Skateboarding Tour San Juan Park 2023 – 30th
  • Park World Championship Rome Ostia 2023 – 8th
  • World Skateboarding Tour Dubai Park 2024 – 6th

17. Hasegawa Mizuho, 13

WSR Points: 35,251

  • Park World Championship Rome Ostia 2023 – 48th
  • World Skateboarding Tour Dubai Park 2024 – 3rd

21. Sugawara Mei, 16

WSR Points: 18,924

  • Park World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 36th
  • World Skateboarding Tour San Juan Park 2023 – 14th
  • Park World Championship Rome Ostia 2023 – 38th
  • World Skateboarding Tour Dubai Park 2024 – 9th

23. Nakamura Kisa, 23

WSR Points: 15,909

  • Park World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 14th
  • World Skateboarding Tour San Juan Park 2023 – 27th
  • Park World Championship Rome Ostia 2023 – 37th
  • World Skateboarding Tour Dubai Park 2024 – 32nd

Japan Women’s Park Skateboarding: The stakes

Sitting in first, second and fifth in the rankings ahead of OQS, Hiraki Cocona, Kusaki Hinano and Yosozumi Sakura have proven themselves to be dominant forces throughout phase one of qualification for women’s park.

Hiraki, silver medallist at Tokyo 2020 and current world champion, above all, has displayed a remarkable consistency having not skipped a single final since qualification began.

But even when these three looked to be the best Japan had to offer for securing the three quota spots for Paris 2024 along came 13-year-old Hasegawa Mizuho.

The youngster from Ibarakiken first appeared at Worlds in Ostia, Rome without little notice but in Dubai, that all changed after she landed on the podium next to Hiraki and Spain’s Naia Laso.

Though appearing late in the race, Hasegawa, also an X Games silver medallist, has managed to clinch a spot in the top 44 and her surge will be one her Japanese compatriots will be watching very closely not least with the points on offer at OQS.

Nagahara Yuro takes to the skies at World Skateboarding Tour: Dubai Street 2024
Nagahara Yuro takes to the skies at World Skateboarding Tour: Dubai Street 2024 (Bryce Kanights / World Skate)

Japanese Skateboarders at OQS 2024: Men’s Park

The World Skateboarding Ranking is made up of the best three Olympic qualifying results from phase one.

13. Nagahara Yuro, 18

WSR Points: 52,242

Top 4 Olympic Qualifying Results

  • Park World Championship Sharjah 2022 – 2nd
  • World Skateboarding Tour San Juan Park 2023 – 7th
  • Park World Championship Rome Ostia 2023 – 5th
  • World Skateboarding Tour Dubai Park 2024 – 14th

Japan Men’s Park Skateboarding: The stakes

As the only one of the four skate disciplines to feature a sole Japanese skater in Nagahara Yuro, the picture for Japan in men’s park is markedly different from the rest.

But while there might not be the pressure of an internal battle that is not to say the 18-year-old won’t be without the feeling entirely.

The expectation that Japan secures an Olympic quota in all of the disciplines and underlines its mastery in skating will still be present and with no other skaters to lean on the responsibility will rest with Nagahara and Nagahara alone.

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