Aori Nishimura takes 1st in Women’s Street at the Street Skateboarding World Championships in Rome
13-Year-Old Rayssa Leal claims 3rd in Women’s Street Skateboarding Final / Nyjah Huston takes 2nd place in Men’s Street Skateboarding, qualifies into Olympics as #1 on Global Ranking.
Monster Energy a new World Champion! Aori Nishimura on taking first place in Women’s Street at the World Skate Street Skateboarding Championships in Rome, Italy. In the final qualifier event for the Tokyo Olympics, the 19-year-old from Tokyo, Japan battled the world elite of street skating at Stadio Pietrangeli, in Rome, Italy. Nishimura was joined on the podium by 13-year-old skateboard phenom Rayssa Leal from Imperatriz, Brazil, in third place.
In the competitive Men’s Skateboard Street event, Nyjah Huston finished in second place in a down-to-the-wire final on Sunday. On the strength of his podium finish, the 26-year-old from Laguna Beach, California, qualified into the Olympics in first place as the world’s highest-ranked street skater and will represent Team U.S.A. in Tokyo. Sanctioned by World Skate, the official governing body for skateboarding in the Olympics, the Street Skateboarding World Championships offered a final chance to score qualifier points for the Tokyo games. The focus of the action was a temporary street course designed by California Skateparks at the historic “Centralino” outdoor arena in the Foro Italico in Rome.
From May 31 to June 6, more than 200 skateboarders from across the globe, including riders from Peru, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, battled for the top spots in a series of intense qualifier rounds. The winners in the men’s and women’s finals each took home $40,000 and 80,000 points on the World Skate ranking. When all was said and done, the Street Skateboarding World Championships finalized the official list of 40 street skateboarders (20 men and 20 women), who will represent their respective countries in skateboarding’s debut as an Olympics discipline in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. The following Monster Energy riders will be competing in the Skateboard Street discipline in Tokyo: Nyjah Huston (United States), Aori Nishimura (Japan), Aurelien Giraud (France), Matt Berger (Canada), Jhancarlos Gonzalez (Columbia), as well as Rayssa Leal, Kelvin Hoefler and Giovanni Vianna (Brazil). In Skateboard Park, look forward to Lizzie Armanto (Finland) and Rune Glifberg (Denmark) representing Monster at the Olympics.
Starting the Street Skateboarding World Championships finals on Sunday, the highly anticipated Women’s Skateboard Street contest featured eight of the world’s best female street skaters. Countries represented were Brazil, Japan, as well as the Netherlands and United States. According to official Olympics rules, each rider received two Runs as well as five Best Trick attempts to build a score composed of the four highest scores. Monster Energy’s Rayssa Leal from Imperatriz, Brazil, had emerged from Saturday’s pressure cooker semifinal as the top qualifier after landing two stacked Runs and attacking the big handrail with flawless backside lipslide, backside Smith grind, and frontside feeble grind for 14.40 points total. Leal was closely followed by newly minted Monster Energy rider Aori Nishimura from Tokyo, Japan, who threw down massive tricks including a gap to frontside lipslide as well as a frontside nosegrind the ten-stair rail to qualify in second place with 14.24 points total.
The level of tricks escalated quickly in Sunday’s final. With a less than ideal start, Nishimura lost the handle on her first run, but regained her flow in Run two: Gap out to frontside lipslide the big rail, frontside 50-50 up the Euro gap ledge, big gap out to crooked grind the Hubba, boardslide across the kinked rail, and frontside 5-0 grind the Hubba brought her score back on track with 3.21 points.
In the Best Trick section, Nishimura started off by sending a technical Half Cab noseslide down the ten-stair rail for 4.30 points. On her next two attempts, she closely missed a risky gap to frontside nosegrind down the big rail while fellow Japanese rider Momiji Nishiya clinched the lead. Finally, Nishimura’s willingness to risk everything for a big move paid off on her fourth attempt, when she stuck the massive gap to frontside nosegrind for 4.04 points. Still in need of another solid score, Nishimura pulled a big gap to frontside lipslide down the rail on her last attempt for 3.18 points, boosting her score to 14.73 points for the win.
“I’m super happy right now. I’m happy to be back skating contests and winning this one – just super happy!” said Nishimura upon winning the Street Skateboarding World Championships in Rome on Sunday, adding: “I felt a lot of pressure, but I knew I can do my trick. So, I had confidence. I just want to do my best in the Olympics and I’m so excited to compete.”
Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Nishimura resides in Huntington Beach with her sister and fellow street skater Kotone. Nishimura became a household name by winning the Street League World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in January 2019. That year, she took back-to-back X Games gold in Minneapolis and Norway to bring her gold medal count to three. Also making the podium on Sunday, Leal came into Sunday’s final as the youngest skater but also the top qualifier. In her second Run, the 13-year-old skateboarding prodigy strung together a flawless routine including backside Smith grind the Hubba, frontside feeble the rail, frontside nosegrind the ledge, kickflip across the kicker as well as frontside lipslide and backside lipslide down the big rail for 3.34 points.
When the competition advanced into Best Trick attempts, Leal kept raising the bar with a backside Smith grind down the big rail (3.39 points) but struggled with landing the frontside feeble down the big rail and took a bad slam on her third attempt. After also missing her fourth try in Best Trick, Leal only had one more chance to land a big trick to make the podium. She found it with a flawless frontside feeble down the big rail for 3.64 points, bringing her total score to 13.47 points for a strong third-place finish.
Leal first attracted attention in 2015 at the age of 6 by heelflipping down a set of stairs while wearing a fairy costume in a video that went viral across the globe. She has since proven a strong competitor at the highest international level: In 2019, she made history as the youngest competitor to ever win an SLS tour stop at age 11 and took second place at the SLS World Championship in Brazil that year. Before the pandemic, she also won the FAR’n High competition in France and placed fourth in her X Games debut in Minneapolis in 2019. Watch closely as Leal will represent Brazil at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Men’s Skateboard Street final on Sunday was the culmination of an entire week of high-stakes competition. All eight finalists had earned their spot in the highly contested semifinal featuring 32 skaters on Saturday. Monster Energy’s Nyjah Huston made the cut in first place with a 35.86-point score and tricks like nollie backside 180 nosegrind and switch frontside heelflip tailslide down the big rail.
Huston’s teammate, 27-year-old Kelvin Hoefler from Guarujá, Brazil, coasted into the final in third place with a score of 32.11 points and high-tech moves like Half Cab noseslide pop over to backside tailslide fakie down the ten-stair rail. After prevailing in Friday’s heated Open Qualifier round, 27-year-old Matt Berger from Kamloops, Canada, earned his way into the final in seventh place by landing tricks such as kickflip backside tailslide backside bigspin on the big rail for 30.36 points.
Once it was finals time on Sunday, the pressure kicked into high gear for the eight riders hailing from Brazil, Canada, Japan, and the United States. The official competition format left little room for error: With the best four scores deciding the winner, the keys to winning in Rome were consistency, strategy, and the ability to land highly difficult moves at the right time. Stepping into the final as the top-ranked street skater on the global World Skate leaderboards, Huston started building his score with two near-perfect runs. On his second run, the 19-time X Games medalist landed a crooked grind into the bank, backside tailslide up the A-frame rail, nollie heelflip up the Euro gap, backside kickflip disaster revert on the quarterpipe, Half Cab kickflip into the bank, kickflip frontside nosegrind the Hubba ledge, gap out to frontside Smith grind the kinked rail, frontside 180 switch crooked up the Euro Gap ledge and a technical nollie heelflip backside lipslide fakie down the ten-stair rail for an 8.7-point score despite missing a backside kickflip over the box.
Taking his momentum into Best Trick attempts, Huston dropped a banger on his first try: A perfect Caballerial backside noseblunt slide down the big rail for 9.15 points and an early lead. But on his second attempt, Huston lost the handle on a nollie heelflip backside tailslide and took an uncharacteristically hard slam that rattled him. After missing the trick again on attempt three, Huston found himself leapfrogged by Japan’s Yuto Horigome, who was trailing behind on Run scores but rose to the top with high-tech rail moves in Best Trick. On his fourth attempt, Huston took a risky gamble by attempting the nollie heelflip backside tailslide to fakie down the big rail again, landing it perfectly this time for 9.27 points and a total score of 35.75 points, one point behind Horigome in first place. Dropping in as the last rider of the final, Huston put it all on the line to claim the top spot: He came close to landing a backside 270 kickflip to lipslide down the rail but had to settle for second place in the ultra-competitive World Skate Street Skateboarding Championships.
As an official U.S. Skateboarding Olympics team member, Huston will represent the United States at the Tokyo Games in 2021. Huston is the winningest street skateboarder of all time and currently the only athlete ever to win X Games gold medals on five continents. After winning the first-ever X Games Real Street Best Trick competition in late 2020, Huston now owns 19 X Games medals in total (13 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze). Huston is the current SLS World Champion after claiming his third back-to-back title in 2019.
Also putting on a strong showing in the final, Hoefler put together a perfect Run including frontside bluntslide transfer into the bank, kickflip backside lipslide the flat bar, backside overcrook up the Euro gap rail, backside tailslide the Hubba, switch frontside tailslide 270 out the Euro gap ledge, and Half Cab crooked and kickflip frontside noseslide down the big rail for 8.81 points. In Best Trick, Hoefler followed up on the big rail with his signature Half Cab noseslide to backside tailslide (9.1 points), Caballerial backside tailslide fakie (8.35 points), and Caballerial backside lipslide fakie (7.45 points) for a strong fifth-place finish with 33.71 points.
Monster Energy rider Berger also stoked the crowd by stringing together a perfect Run featuring bigspin frontside boardslide the big rail, nollie heelflip and 360 flip the kicker, frontside blunt the quarter pipe, frontside Smith grind on the kinked rail, as well as kickflip backside lipslide and kickflip frontside boardslide the big rail for 8.5 points. In Best Trick, the street technician from British Columbia hit the big rail with moves such as big flip frontside boardslide fakie (7.3 points) and kickflip backside tailslide fakie (8.05 points). But unable to repeat Saturday’s kickflip backside tailslide backside bigspin on the big rail, Berger walked away with 32.15 points and sixth place, but also a guaranteed ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.