Nyjah Huston defends Street League title
BARCELONA, Spain -- Nyjah Huston won his second consecutive X Games gold medal Saturday in the Street League Skateboarding finals, winning on every section of the three-part course. X Games Los Angeles 2012 gold medalist Paul "P-Rod" Rodriguez took second, followed by newcomer Manny Santiago in third.
"I was so nervous. I've never felt that much pressure," said Huston, the 2012 Street League champion. "I've never felt a feeling like that before. … Congrats to Paul. He gave me such an amazing battle and made me work for that so hard."
After brief rain delays on the course, Huston charged on his first of two attempts in the Flow section with a run that included a massive backside 180 nosegrind on the Hubba ledge. He then won the Control section with a 9.1 for a technical kickflip to frontside hurricane grind, extending his lead in Street League's elite "9" club as the skater with the most scores of 9.0 or higher.
The final section, Impact, is the most heavily weighted in the overall score. P-Rod had been trailing just behind Huston throughout the competition, and he put the pressure on early in the Impact section. P-Rod scored 8.3 for a switch backside Smith grind on the Hubba ledge on his first attempt, an 8.8 for a switch frontside bluntslide on his third, another 8.8 for a switch kickflip to backside 50-50 on his fifth and an 8.4 on his final attempt to take the lead with a switch backside tailslide.
"Everyone out there is killing it so hard, and the progression is going at such a high level," said Huston, whose own Impact section scores included a kickflip to backside Smith grind (8.7), frontside 180 to switch crooked grind (8.0), switch backside tailslide (7.7) and a 360 flip to 5-0 grind (9.1, another entry for the "9" club). That left Huston just shy of P-Rod as the contest came down to Huston's final attempt, when he landed a hardflip over the Hubba feature with an 8.5 to secure the gold medal.
The win gives Huston his sixth X Games medal, a haul that includes last month's Street gold in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, a win at X Games Los Angeles 2011 and the Real Street video contest gold from 2012. This also makes Huston undefeated in Street League competition in the first year of Street League's new partnership with X Games.
"Each and every contest, it gets gnarlier and gnarlier," Huston said. "You really have to give it your all."
Santiago's bronze-medal finish was the biggest surprise of the day: The X Games and Street League rookie won a wild-card entry through the SLS Select series last month in Brazil but failed to advance to the finals. He was in top form Saturday. His biggest tricks in the Impact section included a kickflip to frontside Smith grind, frontside shove-it to feeble grind, kickflip to frontside 5-0 grind, pop shove-it to backside 5-0 and a kickflip to backside 50-50 grind.