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U.S. Skateboarders Head to Dubai With Qualification Spots On The Line

by Brendan Rourke

Tate Carew during practice for the Mens Park World Championship in Ostia Rome, on October 8 2023.
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As qualification for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 ramps up around Team USA, it is time for skateboarding to take the stage once more. The World Skate Tour (WST) is making a stop in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, this weekend for both park and street events, and points aiding in the fight for an Olympic roster spot are on the line. Competition starts February 25 and runs through March 3.

The first step towards qualification is claiming one of the 24 Olympic qualification spots (six per gender, per discipline as long as enough American skaters are ranked in the top 44 of the WST rankings). Men’s street skater Nyjah Huston (Davis, Calif.) and women’s street skaters Poe Pinson (Fernandina Beach, Fla.) and 15-year-old Paige Heyn (Tempe, Ariz.) will not be competing, but have already claimed three of them, thanks to prior great performances at qualification events.

 

Nonetheless, a great performance from any of the American skaters competing in Dubai can easily secure the remaining spots. From there, the skaters will travel to Budapest and Shanghai for Phase 2 of qualification. Eventually, the prospective field of 24 athletes will then battle their boards off to claim one of the 12 potential spots for Paris (three per gender, per discipline).

 

Below are some of the top storylines heading into Dubai:

JD Sanchez competes in the men's park qualifiers during the Sharjah Skateboarding Street And Park World Championships 2023 on Feb. 09, 2023 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Getty Images)

Perhaps the most exciting battle between American skaters this weekend will happen in the men’s park discipline. Jagger Eaton (Mesa, Ariz.), Tate Carew (San Diego, Calif), Gavin Bottger (Oceanside, Calif.), Tom Scharr (Malibu, Calif.) and Liam Pace (Tuscon, Ariz.) are in solid positions to grab spots in park for Phase 2. Eaton, who won Olympic bronze in street four years ago, ranks No. 1 overall in park, while the 16-year-old Bottger recently made headlines when he picked up his first world title last October. All five of them rank inside the top 10 in WST rankings.

 

So, all eyes will be on the logjam of American skaters ranked 18-21 in the WST rankings with just one roster spot likely available. JD Sanchez (Fairfield, Calif.) and Taylor Nye (Costa Mesa, Calif.) in Dubai, who are ranked 18th and 19th in the WST park standings currently have the upper hand. Sanchez, who is just 14 years old, has burst onto the skateboarding scene as one of the sport’s top young stars. Meanwhile Nye, has more experience at 19 years old. Recently, Nye secured gold in park at the Pan American Games Santiago 2023, giving him momentum heading into this weekend.

 

However, do not write off Hawaii’s own Heimana Reynolds (ranked 21st) who is adding pressure to Sanchez and Nye. Of the three, Reynolds has had the most experience in enduring this qualification pathway having made it to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. He finished 13th. Another American skater, Josh Dirksen, is ranked 20th but will not be competing in Dubai due to an injury.

Dashawn Jordan competes in the men's street quarterfinal during the Sharjah Skateboarding Street and Park World Championships 2023 on Feb. 03, 2023 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Getty Images)

Similar to the American men’s park skaters battling it out for spot No. 6, a pair of men’s street skaters will be competing against each other for one final spot. 26-year-old Tokyo Olympian Jake Ilardi (Osprey, Fla.) and street veteran Dashawn Jordan (Chandler, Ariz.) are currently ranked 34th and 35th in the WST men’s street rankings, 14 spots behind Braden Hoban (Encinitas, Calif.) who currently holds claim to the fifth spot for Phase 2. Essentially, this means Dubai is the final opportunity for Ilardi to have a solid finish to stay ahead of Jordan. However, if Jordan excels over Ilardi, he could leapfrog the former Olympian and extend his chances of claiming an official Olympic roster spot and gain access to the next qualification events in Budapest and Shanghai.

 

The battle will be interesting, as the pair have different approaches to their runs. Ilardi is known for focusing on the finesse and technical aspects of skating, hoping to lay down solid runs while adding a bit of style on the back end. Meanwhile, Jordan opts to highlight his runs with bold style and power.

ariah Duran competes in the women's street semifinal during the Sharjah Skateboarding Street and Park World Championships 2023 on Feb. 04, 2023 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Getty Images)

While the men’s side is quite congested, things are starting to take shape more clearly on the women’s street side, especially for Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Mariah Duran. Duran currently ranks 23rd in the WST women’s street rankings, making her the second-highest ranked American skater. The two-time X Games gold medalist and 2020 Olympian even has a solid chance to grab a podium spot in Dubai.

Lilly Erickson celebrates after laying down a run during the 2023 World Skate Tour park event in Rome. (Photo by Bryce Kanights/World Skate)

The women’s park side of things is a bit more congested than street, with all eight rostered athletes ranking in the top 25 of the women’s park WST rankings. Currently sitting in the fifth qualification spot and ranked 17th in the world is Lillian “Lilly” Erickson from Honolulu, Hawaii. Erickson is one of the youngest WST competitors at age 13, however, she packs a punch when it comes to big time events. Additionally, she has the aid of an Olympian in Reynolds, who also hails from Hawaii. The duo train together in between competitions, and that is sure to pay off when it comes down to staying cool and confident as the pressure increases from other skaters around her. If Erickson has a solid performance in Dubai, she’ll retain her ranking and move onto Phase 2.


  • Jake Yanko
  • Luke Kahler
  • Jake Familton
  • Cory Juneau
  • Heimana Reynolds
  • JD Sanchez
  • Taylor Nye
  • Liam Pace
  • Tom Schaar
  • Gavin Bottger
  • Tate Carew
  • Klara Kermoade
  • Cona Suganami
  • Katelyn West
  • Jordan Santana
  • Carlin Makibbin
  • Jordyn Barratt
  • Lillian Erickson
  • Grace Marhoefer
  • Ruby Lilley
  • Bryce Wettstein
  • Minna Stess
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