Aussie skateboarders out to nail down Olympic spots

Australia's skateboard brigade can take a giant front-side flip into Paris with strong performances in stage one of the Olympic Qualifier Series in Shanghai. 

Led by Tokyo Games gold medallist Keegan Palmer, a 19-strong contingent are competing in park (12 athletes) and street (seven) to improve their world rankings to remain in contention for Paris.

Other big-name Australians in action include Tokyo 2020 Olympian Shane O'Neill, 2023 X Games gold medallist Chloe Covell and recent Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year award recipient, 14-year-old Arisa Trew.

The Queensland teen was honoured at world sport's biggest awards gala last month for her pioneering feat at the age of just 13 last year, when she became the first female skater to land a 720 - two full rotations in mid-air - in competition.

The QS Shanghai 2024 , running from Thursday to Sunday, is being held for the first time, with the second leg in Budapest, Hungary, from June 20-23, with 20 qualification spots up for grabs.

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.

Skaters have been accruing rankings points during the world series over the past two years, but points on offer in China and Hungary are worth nearly three times more.

In the women's park event, Ruby Trew, 15, is the top-ranked Australian in eighth spot, while Arisa Trew (no relation) is 11th.

Poppy Starr Olsen (28th), Charlotte Heath (29th),  Aaliyah Wilson (33rd) and Coco Crafter (34th) are all competing in Shanghai to boost their hopes of breaking into the top 20.

World No.4 Covell, aged 14, leads the Australian charge in the street discipline, while Liv Lovelace (15th) and Haylie Powell (17th) are well-positioned.

Felicity Turner is looking for a big showing this weekend to jump up from 27th.

In the men's park, 21-year-old Palmer, who won gold in the event in Japan, is currently ranked 11th, with Kieran Woolley, who finished fifth in Tokyo, ahead in eighth.

Looking to make his Olympic debut, Keefer Wilson, 17, is 15th, while Ash Wilcomes is ranked 21st.

In the men's street, veteran O'Neill is the best-ranked Australian in 29th spot.

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