MUNICH -- Youness Amrani opened X Games Munich on Thursday with a win in the Street League Skateboarding Select Series.
The Belgian skater beat out Ryan Decenzo and Jackson Curtin to earn a wild-card slot for Friday's prelims with the Street League pros. Amrani is the first European skater to win a Select Series competition.
"I'm super psyched to even come here and skate the contest and hang with all these guys," Amrani said. "I look up to all of the Street League pros. These guys are next level. They're all like idols to me. It's beyond my dreams."
Amrani won his qualifying heat to advance to the six-man finals. In the Full Run section, he brought technical manual lines, a nollie 180 switch crooked grind and a backside nosegrind to nollie-flip out, setting the stage for both the Control and Impact segments of the contest. He upped the ante in the Control section with a frontside nosegrind to switch 5-0 on a bank-to-Hubba ledge feature and came out on top in the Impact section, which he said has been his biggest challenge in the Street League format.
"I like skating big stuff, but I have to feel right for it," he said after making short work of the section with tricks including a switch frontside tailslide to 270 out and a hardflip over the Hubba ledge. "The last two contests I came to, in Brazil and Barcelona, I wasn't feeling ready to jump down something big, but today, thankfully, everything seemed to be working just right."
Amrani grew up skating at the skatepark his mother owned in Hasselt, Belgium. He won the 2010 Manny Mania amateur competition and is sponsored by Nike SB and Almost Skateboards.
He said he is having the biggest month of his career. In addition to Thursday's win, Amrani landed on the June 2013 Am Issue cover of TransWorld Skateboarding Magazine.
"This is what it's all about," said Street League founder Rob Dyrdek as he congratulated Amrani after the contest, explaining that the Select Series was designed to give rising and unsung skaters a chance to break into the Street League system and to identify talented skaters around the world as part of the new Street League at X Games partnership. "Seeing Manny Santiago win the first two events and go on to win bronze in Barcelona was confirmation that we were doing the right thing. I look forward to seeing what Youness can do now that he has the stage."
Santiago missed the cut for the Select Series final Thursday but still leads the overall Select Series rankings. (The top overall finisher will be invited on as one of Street League's 20 pros in 2014.) Greg Lutzka, who finished second in Brazil and Spain, led for much of Thursday's contest but finished in sixth place after failing to put four out of six scores together in the Impact section.