Paul Rodriguez won his first Street League Skateboarding contest of the season at Portland's Rose Garden Arena on Sunday, narrowly beating X Games Munich champ Chris Cole and escaping Nyjah Huston, whose return to SLS ended after an early ousting in the Flow section of the finals.
In typical Street League fashion, the result of the contest came down to one trick.
In his final attempt of six in the Impact section and needing an 8.4 to secure first place, Rodriguez landed a frontside bigspin heelflip for a score of 8.8, his second-career SLS victory and sweet redemption after finishing second to Cole in Munich.
"Thank you, God," a victorious Rodriguez said. "It's an insane moment. … It was a fight to the death. It's all about the mindset."
Second-place winner Cole acknowledged the neck-and-neck competition by pointing at Rodriguez before attempting an ultimately unsuccessful backside 360 kickflip for his final trick.
However, Cole notched two nine-point tricks to get to that moment, finishing only 1.5 points behind Rodriguez's 48 in the Munich role reversal. In the Control section, Cole landed both a frontside 270 to switch backside lipslide for a 9.4 and a 360 flip noseblunt for a 9.1.
In an unusual turn of events, famously unflappable defending 2012 SLS champion Huston was eliminated early in the finals after two shaky runs in the Flow section. A fall while attempting a nollie backside noseblunt in his second Flow run cost the 18-year-old dearly. After the stumble he was unable to advance further in the contest. It was the earliest in Huston's SLS career that he had been eliminated.
Huston, who says he has never broken a bone skateboarding, was unable to compete in X Games Munich due to a bruised rib sustained while street skating. Prior to bowing out of SLS's fourth competition of 2013, Huston had swept the international series, winning three SLS contests in a row.
Yet, aside from an early fall on a botched kickflip 50-50 in his first run of the day, there was little in his performance during preliminaries that foreshadowed defeat. In fact, true to form, Huston emerged from preliminaries in second place, trailing behind Luan Oliveira, who logged one of the best Flow runs in SLS history earlier in the round.
"What can you do?" Huston said after his loss. "It's skateboarding. We all mess up."
Though Rodriguez's and Cole's age and experience ultimately led to first- and second-place finishes, relative up-and-comer Ishod Wair put on his best SLS performance to date. Wair led both the Flow and Control sections with a 9.0 and a 9.1 respectively. Wair's frontside 180 to switchstance nosegrind to fronstide half cab out was particularly stylish.
Though several falls marred his performance in the Impact section, he finished in fourth place.
Oliveira, a Brazilian skater with proficiencies in technical ability and big impactful tricks, seemed poised to win the Portland event at several points in the evening. In the finals, while leading all competitors after prelims, he executed a nollie hardflip noseslide to big spin out for a 9.2 in the control section.
The highest scoring trick of the contest (as well as the season) award went to Shane O' Neill, who landed a switch double 360 flip for a near-perfect score of 9.9.
The final stop in the Street League regular season will be at X Games Los Angeles, with the 2013 campaign culminating with the Super Crown in Newark, New Jersey. Both contests are next month.
Street League Skateboarding ~ Portland Final