Laguna Beach’s Nyjah Huston hopes to add Olympic gold to legendary skate career

Pro skateboarder Nyjah Huston of Laguna Beach, practices at his private skate park in San Clemente.
Pro skateboarder Nyjah Huston of Laguna Beach, aiming to make the Paris Olympics this summer in the street skate division, practices at his private skate park in San Clemente.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
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Nyjah Huston is widely regarded as the best contest street skateboarder of all time.

Approaching his 30th birthday in November, the Laguna Beach resident has nothing left to prove. The numbers that mean more than his age are the six world championships and 13 X Games gold medals.

After nearly two decades in the public eye, Huston knows that there are plenty of up-and-comers who want his spot.

He isn’t ready to give it up just yet. Instead, he has spent this Olympic quad grinding — literally and figuratively — and getting ready for Paris.


“I’ve really just got to be thankful and proud of myself for having the chance to be in this moment again,” Huston said Wednesday at his private skate park in San Clemente. “I’m still competing at a winning level and still feeling healthy. That’s very important to me, because I really care about skateboarding for as long as possible. Obviously, all of the young guns are getting really good. We’ll see how many years I have out there competing at a winning level. Even aside from that, I just want to be on my board, having fun skating and filming for as long as humanly possible.”

Pro skateboarder Nyjah Huston practices at his skate park in San Clemente.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Huston leaves on Sunday for the last Olympic qualifier event in Budapest, but he’s already put himself in a good position to make the team.

Skateboarding makes its second Olympic appearance this summer. Huston finished seventh in Tokyo in 2021, followed by a lengthy social media post apologizing to his five million fans on Instagram.

He vowed to put less pressure on himself this time around. It seems to be working, like most things that Huston does in this space.

Team USA skateboarding coach Andrew Nicholas said Huston is still right there in terms of talent, and one of his country’s better shots for a podium finish.

“Of our street athletes, pound for pound, he has the highest scoring tricks,” Nicholas said. “It’s like golf. Tiger [Woods] didn’t win every weekend, but if you had to bet on someone who could pull off a shot out of the hazards, it’s him every time.

“Nyjah dominated an entire decade, and he’s still hanging with all of these young kids today. They try to write him off like he’s older and all of this, but he’s still dominating. By the numbers, he’s still dominating.”

Nyjah Huston of Laguna Beach has won 13 gold medals in the X Games.
Nyjah Huston of Laguna Beach has won 13 gold medals in the X Games.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Much of the credit for that goes to his seriousness to his craft and keeping his tattoo-inked body in the best shape possible. But there are other fun diversions. Huston said he’s started to DJ over the last year or two, and he also enjoys riding dirt bikes.

When it comes to competition day, he’ll put a good house music mix on his AirPods.

“We always get nervous as skateboarders because we all want to do good out there,” Huston said. “It’s really easy to let those nerves take over you in skateboarding and mess up on easy tricks that you should be landing every time. It’s really about trying to transfer those nerves into being hyped in the moment, trying to transfer those vibes.”

Huston has had a long-term sponsorship with Monster Energy, and it’s obvious why the partnership works.

Monster senior vice president of marketing Sam Pontrelli said that Huston transcends the skate culture, not overstating things when he calls Huston the Tony Hawk of his generation.

“He went from just a street skater, to now, a celebrity,” Pontrelli said. There’s a few people who have been able to do that over the years, and he’s probably one of Monster’s best who was able to do that. You see him in fashion magazines, you see him on TV a lot. He’s kind of the face of street skate, which is just absolutely phenomenal for us.

“He’s good looking, he’s got the tats, he’s got the lifestyle, he’s got the great cars, he’s got the girls. He’s like the perfect spokesperson for our type of brand.”

Skateboarder Nyjah Huston, left, of Laguna Beach, works out with fellow pro Liam Pace at his skate park in San Clemente.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Huston and fellow Monster team riders Liam Pace, Grace Marhoefer and Ruby Lilley took part in Wednesday’s media day. At one point, Pace tried to do a trick and planted his foot through the drywall of Huston’s skate park, right on the bridge of the nose of a woman painted on the wall.

Watching from a distance, Huston just smiled, bemusedly asking if Pace was OK (he was).

“I love the chaos of skateboarding, we all do, especially when it comes to street skateboarding,” Huston said. “You’re out there, you’re skating a city, you’re dealing with outside elements. You’re dealing with pedestrians that might be pissed off that you’re skating next to them. Security guards, cops kicking you out. I’ve even been put in handcuffs a couple of times, just from skateboarding. I personally love that side to it.”

There’s a sort of clash in trying to leverage that rebellious nature to the Olympic stage. Huston said his greatest accomplishment so far isn’t even any contest win, it’s the street skating videos, known as “parts,” that he’s put out over the years. That’s really how you’re remembered as a skateboarder, he said.

“I have so many kids come up to me like, ‘oh, I watch this part almost every day to start my day and get hyped to go skate,’” he said. “I’m like, ‘Yes, I love hearing that.’”

Pro skateboarders Liam Pace, Nyjah Huston, Grace Marhofer and Ruby Lilly, from left.
Pro skateboarders Liam Pace, Nyjah Huston, Grace Marhofer and Ruby Lilly, from left, practice at Huston’s skate park in San Clemente.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

As for his top contest memories, he said somehow capturing the biggest amateur contest when he was 10 years old stands out. So does winning his third straight World Skateboarding Championship street skate gold medal in Brazil in 2019.

An Olympic gold would also be way up there for Huston, who regardless won’t forget the sport’s history.

“I think it’s sick that skateboarding’s in the Olympics, and I also think it’s sick that you can go out skating and get arrested,” Huston said. “It’s two completely different sides to it, and it’s definitely what makes skateboarding special. It’s definitely more of a lifestyle and a way of heart than it is a sport.”