No easy way out from Budapest to Paris for Japan’s skateboarders

Horigome Yuto: Back against the wall

Without question the face of the sport in Japan, Horigome failed to even reach the semi-finals in the first leg of the OQS – by a miniscule 0.07 – in the two-run format of the preliminaries which clearly did not suit him.

Going into Shanghai, Horigome was ranked fourth among the Japanese men and was already under pressure to deliver but fell further from the pack to fifth, more than 200,000 points out of first place now occupied by 14-year-old prodigy Onodera Ginwoo, who is also the global leader in the qualifying race.

For Horigome to have any chance of making it to Paris, he would need to finish in the top six at the second leg of the OQS in Budapest next month, while hoping his five compatriots pick up as few points as possible.

The likelihood that Onodera, Netsuke Kairi (second from Japan), world champion Shirai Sora (No. 3), Sasaki Toa (No. 4) and even Aoki Yukito, who is just below Horigome, would all miss out on a chunk of points seems fairly low, given their prevalence around the podium.

Yet never underestimate the heart of a champion. He has come up short in the qualifying campaign so far but Horigome still has all the ability in the world to win Budapest outright and if he should, or even jump on to the podium, talk about drama.

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