Shaun White competes at the World Skate Park Skateboarding World Championship on Sept. 13, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Shaun White’s effort to make his fifth Olympic Games — and first as a skateboarder — got a boost this weekend when he reached the semifinal round of the World Park Skateboarding Championships before being eliminated Saturday in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
It marked the most serious step yet in White’s attempt to make the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, where skateboarding makes its Olympic debut.
The 33-year-old White, who won Olympic gold medals in halfpipe snowboarding in 2006, 2010 and 2018, has turned his attention in recent months toward qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in the skateboarding park event. Both park and street events will be part of the Tokyo Games.
Though White won five X Games medals as a skateboarder from 2005 to 2011, those medals came in the non-Olympic vert, or halfpipe, discipline, whereas skateboard park takes place in a bowl.
White has been training in park and earned a wild-card entry into the world championships.
Beginning with the qualifying round on Thursday, White advanced with his score of 77.37 ranking 13th out of 72 riders, while 16 advanced to the quarterfinals.
The top 20 seeded skaters had byes through the qualification round, and 16 of them joined the competition in the quarterfinal round. The field of 32 was cut nearly in half again on Friday, with 17 moving on to the semifinals. White, who scored 80.00, just squeezed in, finishing 16th.
With all of the top skaters taking part in the 20-person semifinal, White’s run finally came to an end. Needing to finish among the top eight to move on to Sunday’s final, White scored 82.00 to finish 13th. He missed the cutoff by just 1.5 points.
Though White fell short of the final, his result in Sao Paulo was his most significant to date since returning to skateboarding.
He had teased the idea of making a run for the Olympics in skateboarding for several months before entering his first competition in September 2018. In July of this year, he announced he’d compete at the world championships.
Though White had a strong showing this week, he still faces an uphill battle to earn a both in the Tokyo Games. The top three finishers on the men’s and women’s side at the 2020 world championships qualify for the Games, and 16 more will be added to each field next June based on the Olympic World Skateboarding Ranking, with a maximum of three per country.
Three U.S. men advanced to the final round in Sao Paulo, while in the latest ranking, released Aug. 29, four U.S. men were among the top eight, while eight were in the top 20. White was not among the 105 on the list.