• Mar. May 21st, 2024

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Skateboarding at the Olympic Qualifier Series: Everything you need to know

#Skateboarding #Olympic #Qualifier #Series

From its first competition in California in 1963 to its first appearance in the Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020, skateboarding’s popularity has exploded, with millions of participants and fans around the world exploding into cheers with every board flip, spin, and grind across ramps, rails, and courses across the globe.

And at the Olympic Qualifier Series in May and June and at Paris 2024, these athletes and their incredible tricks will be in front of those awestruck Olympic fans for the first time: Unlike at the events’ debuts at Tokyo 2020, the OQS and Paris Games will feature live fans, who will roar at the park and street skateboarding venues at La Concorde Urban Park in Paris.

Here’s everything you need to know about four of the newest—and gnarliest—Olympic medal events.

  • These skateboarders will compete at the Olympic Qualifier Series

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How long has skateboarding been an Olympic sport?

Skateboarding debuted at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 held in 2021. There are actually two disciplines: park skateboarding and street skateboarding. Each has a men’s and women’s event, and each awards a set of medals.

At the 2020 Games, Keegan Palmer of Australia won the gold medal in Men’s Park. Japan, the host nation, took home the other three golds: Yosozumi Sakura won the Women’s Park event. Horigome Yuto won Men’s Street. And Nishiya Momiji won gold in Women’s Street.

How does skateboarding competition work at the Olympics?

Each of the four events—Men’s Park, Women’s Park, Men’s Street, and Women’s Street—will feature 22 athletes in Paris, for a total of 88 skateboarding athletes overall.

These events both have a preliminary round and a final round, but differ in the types of obstacles and the format of the events.

Park skateboarding

Park skateboarders compete on a course of ramps, bumps, and jumps designed to mimic a skate park: It’s kind of like a swimming pool with extra ramps and jumps in the centre. These jumps include obstacles like a quarter pipe, which is shaped like one-fourth of a round pipe. Athletes use these jumps and ramps to perform high-flying tricks during their runs.

During competition, skaters perform two runs in this park, each lasting 45 seconds. During this time, they can perform as many tricks as they want. In winning runs, skaters usually perform five to eight total tricks during this time. According to the rulebook of World Skate, the international skateboarding governing body, these runs should be judged on five criteria:

  • Difficulty and variety of tricks performed: It’s not just how many tricks a skater performs, but how difficult those tricks are, and how different the tricks are from one another.
  • Quality of execution: This criterion judges how well the skaters performed their tricks. Landing the trick is important, but the rules also say that how fast the skaters are going, how high they fly, and how fluid their movements are should also be considered.
  • Use of the course: Skaters should use as much of the course as they can, doing tricks from multiple obstacles during their run.
  • Flow and consistency: This criterion judges how the 45-second run works as a whole versus judging the tricks individually.
  • Repetition: If athletes perform the same trick multiple times—or if their tricks are too similar to each other—they’ll be scored lower.

After each 45-second run, a panel of judges scores each skater on these criteria, awarding them a score from 0-100. Of the two runs each skater does in each round, only the highest score is counted.

One additional challenge the skaters face in the park course: The specific design of the venue changes for each event, and isn’t revealed to the athletes until shortly before the competition. So skaters can’t prepare the order they’ll perform their tricks in advance.

Street skateboarding

The street skateboarding competition happens on a different course from park skateboarding. In street, the course is flatter, and is peppered with rails and steps that aim to mimic skateboarding’s urban origins.

Street also differs from park in that the competition includes two phases: There’s a phase where athletes perform timed runs, like in park, but there’s also an individual trick portion, where skaters try to land one incredible trick in each of five attempts.

For the run portion, skaters perform two runs of 45 seconds each. This is similar to the park format: Athletes are judged on the same criteria, and are awarded 0-100 points. The run with the higher score becomes part of the skater’s overall score.

During these runs, skaters usually perform six-seven tricks. On his way to the silver medal in Tokyo, for example, Brazilian skater Kelvin Hoefler did seven tricks during his run.

In the second phase of the street competition, athletes have five attempts to perform single tricks. These tricks are also scored out of 100. Their best two tricks count towards their final scores.

During the trick portion, viewers may notice that skaters don’t land every trick. That’s not because they can’t, but because these athletes are attempting some of the most difficult tricks in skateboarding competition—so they’re risking it big for a higher score.

The tricks that skaters perform during the individual trick section of the competition should be different from those they do during their run. If they’re the same, the judges may mark them down. According to the World Skate judging criteria, “Tricks already landed during the Run phase and performed once again within the individual Trick Attempts will be considered as indicative of limited originality within the athlete’s trick repertoire; lacking variety in trick selection may result in a proportionally lower single trick score at the end.”

Between the run score (out of 100) and the two best trick scores (each out of 100), skaters receive a total score up to 300.

What’s different in 2024?

Some of the scoring rules for street skateboarding have changed for Paris 2024. At Tokyo 2020, tricks and runs were scored out of 10, not 100, and could score four times, not three. The four scores came from their four best performances, rather than one score from a run, and the rest from tricks, so an athlete could score all their points during the individual trick portion of the contest. In fact, the men’s gold medallist Horigome did just that.

In Paris and at the Olympic Qualifier Series, athletes’ total score will include one score from a run, plus two scores from individual tricks.

Another new scoring rule involves scoring refusal. With this rule, skaters can now scrub a trick’s score during the individual trick phase to try to improve it. Usually, there’s a penalty for repeating a trick that a skater has already landed. But with this new rule, competitors can tell the judges to ignore a previous attempt at a trick so they can do a better job and get a better score.

For example, Team USA skater Jagger Eaton performed a trick called a switch backside 180 to 5-0 in the best trick portion of the Tokyo 2020 competition. If he hadn’t liked the way he performed the trick, the bronze medallist could have told the judges he wanted to try it again, marking the previous attempt as zero.

How the preliminary and final rounds work

In both park and street, there’s a preliminary round where all athletes compete. During the preliminary round in park, they perform two runs of 45 seconds each, with the higher-scoring run counting as their overall score out of a possible 100 points.

For street skateboarders, the preliminary round consists of two 45-second runs and five trick attempts. The better of the two run scores (out of 100) is added to the two best scores on tricks (each out of 100), for a maximum total score of 300.

The top eight skateboarders in each event advance to the final round. The scores from the preliminary round don’t count in the final round—all the athletes start with a clean slate. The final round for each event is then a repeat of the format from the preliminary round. The winners of the park competition have the highest score out of 100 during the final round, and the winners of street have the highest scores out of 300 in the final round.

At Paris 2024, the preliminary round and the final round in each event will be held on the same day.

How do athletes qualify for Olympic skateboarding?

Eighty-eight athletes will compete in skateboarding at Paris 2024: 22 in each of the four events, Men’s Park, Men’s Street, Women’s Park, Women’s Street.

Of the 22 places for each event, one is saved for the host country, France. One more quota spot in each event is a Tripartite Commission universality place. These are extra spaces awarded by the Olympic Games Tripartite Commission to help create worldwide representation at the Games. According to World Skate rules, athletes are eligible to apply for Universality Places if they are ranked in the top 50 in the world in their discipline.

The remaining 20 places in each event are decided by the Olympic World Skateboarding Ranking (OWSR) leaderboard. These rankings are determined by points that athletes have earned at qualifying events since 2022, including the World Championships, pro tour, and other events. The final points for qualification are up for grabs at the Olympic Qualifier Series (OQS), a first-of-its-kind event that will be held this May in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, and June in Budapest, Hungary.

  • Qualification and points system unveiled for Olympic Qualifier Series

On 24 June 2024, the skateboarders ranked in the top spots in these rankings will obtain quota spots for Paris 2024. A maximum of three athletes from each National Olympic Committee (NOC) may qualify for each event: So each Olympic team could feature, at most, three men and three women each in street and park, for a total possible squad of 12 skateboarders. Each continent is allotted at least one athlete.

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

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

When to watch Olympic skateboarding

At the Paris 2024 Games, athletes will compete in the preliminary round and the final round on the same day for each discipline. For example, women’s street will have its preliminary and final rounds on 28 July.

At the Olympic Qualifier Series, each competition will have three rounds: A preliminary round, a semifinal round, and a final round.

Here’s when to watch all four events at the Olympic Qualifier Series Shanghai and during Paris 2024:

At Olympic Qualifier Series Shanghai:

  • 16 May: Women’s Park Preliminary Round
  • 16 May: Men’s Street Preliminary Round
  • 17 May: Men’s Park Preliminary Round
  • 17 May: Women’s Street Preliminary Round
  • 18 May: Semifinals for all events
  • 19 May: Finals for all events

At Paris 2024:

  • 27 July: Men’s Street (Preliminary Round and Final Round)
  • 28 July: Women’s Street (Preliminary Round and Final Round)
  • 6 August: Women’s Park (Preliminary Round and Final Round)
  • 7 August: Men’s Park (Preliminary Round and Final Round)

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