When even the skateboarders start commenting on the heat, you know it’s hot. But 16-year-old Nyjah Huston survived the temperatures as well as eight runs in two rounds Saturday to claim his first X Games gold medal.
“One of the best feelings of my whole life,” said Huston, a Northern California native who now resides in Huntington Beach. “Definitely the best win of my career. After getting silver the last two years, when you get gold, it just feels so great.”
Huston advanced from an elimination round earlier in the afternoon, and then took to the concrete plaza four times in the finals, all in the glaring sun.
“When you get to the end of your run, your legs are definitely giving out,” Huston said. “Making that last trick is really hard.”
Well, he made it, multiple times. Huston opened his finals performance with a run worth 89.66 points, staking his claim to first. He followed that up with a run worth two points more, and in the end, a gold medal.
Brazilian Luan Oliveira claimed silver with a 91.00, and defending gold medalist and San Clemente native Ryan Sheckler took bronze.
“Every contest is different,” Sheckler said. “It can be anyone’s day at any time. It just seems the last four contests have been Nyjah’s day. He is skating unbelievably. He is obviously putting in the skating, putting in the work, the hours, to skate this consistently.”
Sheckler had trouble putting together a full run. The one time he did he ended with a long rail grind which he barely managed to land, using a quick hand to the pavement to steady himself.
“It’s a lot of skating, especially with how hot it is outside,” Sheckler said. “We skate outside all day, so it really shouldn’t be an issue, but with all that adrenaline going, trying to nail every trick, it’s tough.”
Ryan Decenzo and Chaz Ortiz rounded out the final grouping. The five skaters made the most of an 18-minute heat with 45-second runs on the concrete plaza complete with five sets of stairs, numerous ramps and even a mock-construction site.
“I really liked that little center section, that unfinished concrete section,” Sheckler said of the intentionally-demolished centerpiece. “The whole course was fun, definitely challenging to skate.”