The atmosphere had been growing steadily here in Ostia throughout the week and it was not hard to see why- the unseasonably good weather for October in Italy and the skatepark’s proximity to the beach has meant that there is something of a holiday ambience to this WST World Championship.
Brazil had four finalists taking part here tonight (3 men, 1 woman)- a feat reversed by the Japanese who sent a single male and 3 women through. Stronger than both those nations however was the USA, who (in Park at least) seem to have weathered the onslaught of the upstarts to re-establish themselves as the dominant skateboarding nation. With three men going through from the semi’s within the top four positions and two women barging their way into the other division, they had a slight numerical superiority over Japan and Brazil- but as we have seen this week alone, in skateboarding anything can happen. The men’s finalists were rounded out by sole Australian Keefer Wilson who is rapidly emerging from Keegan Palmer’s shadow as a force to be reckoned with, while the only European representation across both finals was to be found in the women’s contest courtesy of Spanish newcomer Naia Laso and Germany’s ever-improving Lilly Stoephasius.
It is a testament to the consistency of judging that this national split broadly reflects what we may have expected on paper going into the event- even if some of the faces are new.
The women’s finals saw an ever-more consistent Minna Stess improve on last year’s 7th place to claim her first and well-deserved 3rd place podium spot with a 90 in her second run which left her momentarily in second spot and awaiting later run scores in an absolute nail-biter for the USA. It was a quick change at the top, however, as 4 runs later Japanese powerhouse Hinano Kusaki stormed into a momentary lead before her compatriot Hinano Kusaki topped her first-run 92 with a 94 right after Hinano. With most of the field failing to complete their final runs it was in the hands of Brazilian charger Raicca Ventura to upset the podium but her final run didn’t pan out and when Hinano Kusaki’s final run floundered as well it left the alarmingly consistent Kokona Hiraki with a victory lap having already posted two scores high enough to win a medal. A new women’s World Champion was made.
If anything, the men’s comp was even more of a shootout. By the end of the second run cycle, only America’s Tate Carew had posted a score in the 90’s and was leading with Jagger Eaton in second right up until the last 2 runs. Gavin Bottger, who had struggled to get his last trick in throughout the week pulled what might be described as an around-the-world revert on the volcano to storm into first with a 94 before WST San Juan winner Luigi Cini brought pandemonium to the Brazilians with a last trick tre flip stalefish over the hip which has to be seen to be believed. Literally just plucked it out of thin air. A deserved, if knife-edge second place. An amazing ending to an amazing World Championship!
Grazia, Italia- and arrivederci!