FOZ DO IGUAÇU, Brazil -- Nyjah Huston, the 2012 Street League Skateboarding champ and 2011 X Games Los Angeles Skateboard Street gold medalist, was back in top form this week at X Games Foz, coming out of Friday's elimination round as the number one qualifier, then beating out Sean Malto and Torey Pudwill to reclaim the gold in Saturday's finals.
"Going into the first [Street League stop] I always want to win it so bad, and I feel like I've got so much pressure on myself," Huston said. "So winning the first one is always the best thing for me."
The Street League format, new to X Games this year, has been good to Huston over the last two years. He nearly swept the tour in 2011 before a loss to Malto in the New Jersey Championship, won the overall title in 2012, and has now collected more prize money than any skateboarder in history ($550,000 of it from Street League in 2012 alone).
Final score notwithstanding, Huston did not dominate the battle: Chaz Ortiz led after the flow section of the competition, thanks to a run that included a crooked grind to nollie flip out, putting him ahead of local favorite Luan Oliveira, Pudwill, and Huston. Oliveira owned the next portion of the contest, rocking the yellow and green jersey of Brazil's national soccer team to the delight of his home crowd and winning the control section with the highest scoring single run of the day, thanks to a nollie hardflip noseslide to shove-it out. At 9.7 it was the second highest-scoring trick in Street League history and put him in the overall lead ahead of Ortiz and Huston.
"The crowd was awesome. I'm sure they were rooting for Luan cause he's the hometown kid, but I think they were so psyched on me and all the other skaters being out here also," Huston said. "They were cheering for all of us. I want to say thanks to everyone that came out here 'cause they all killed it."
The final segment was the game-changer, with Huston landing a backside ollie 270 lipslide, Cab lipslide, 360 flip to lipslide, and kickflip to backside lipslide in the Impact Section and finishing nearly 10 points ahead of Malto in the final reckoning.
Huston, 18, was the youngest skater in the field -- he first competed in X Games in 2006 at age 11 -- and by far the most consistent, bringing increasingly difficult tricks in each round of competition. This, his second X Games gold, joins a collection that also includes two silver and one bronze and a win in X Games Real Street.
Some of the biggest surprises of the week came well before the start of Saturday's finals, with defending X Games Los Angeles 2012 gold medalist Paul Rodriguez and previous X Games gold medalists Ryan Sheckler, Chris Cole, and Eric Koston all failing to make the top-eight cut from Friday's elimination round. X Games rookie Manny Santiago, who earned his spot in prelims after winning the SLS Select Series competition on Thursday, also failed to advance to finals.