THE Mei Foo skate arena will host Hong Kong's first-ever international skateboarding contest tomorrow. With qualification for the Globe World Cup Skateboarding (GWCS) 2005 at stake, the best skaters from the mainland and Taiwan have been tempted to make the journey. This is the first time Asia is hosting a leg of the Australasian Skateboarding Titles (AST), which is a lead-up to the prestigious GWCS, to be held in Melbourne on February 12. The GWCS is the only World Cup Skateboarding-sanctioned competition in the southern hemisphere. It offers the biggest cash prizes, and with skateboarding icons such as Tony Hawk, Danny Way and Ryan Sheckler leading the way, it creates huge interest in the region. 'Now that we have a venue, we are able to hold an international contest,' said Warren Stuart of the Hong Kong X-Federation, co-organisers of the competition with Globe, a shoe brand. 'It's a small-scale venue, but it is enough. We thought about just having a local contest, but then we realised we could work together with Globe and host an international event.' The AST series covers every state and territory in Australia. There are also four stops in New Zealand. Every AST leg is open to skateboarders of all ages and levels. 'We expect more than 40 entries. A lot have come from the mainland and Taiwan. Taiwan has a big skateboarding community, with lots of specialist shops, so the kids can find sponsors for events like this,' said Stuart. 'Many riders from Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore wanted to come, but they couldn't find backing. It's also been quite short notice for many people.' The top-two skateboarders tomorrow will win a place at the GWCS. 'We will divide people into small groups and let them jam for a certain time. They will never perform alone in front of the judges. I believe this takes the pressure off a bit. It encourages them to try some tricks and perform to their best. In Asia, people tend to all do the same tricks and avoid taking risks. This format lets people go for it, and it's better for the spectators, too.' A registration and practice session will take place today from 4pm-8pm at the skate arena in Lai Chi Kok Park.