The pressure was already intense during the Prelims on the California Skateparks-designed street course with an array of big stair sets and rails, a technical centerpiece section and five-foot quarterpipes. As 28 of the world’s best street skateboarders battled for one of eight spots in the finals, breakout performances by the likes of Manny Santiago, Chris Joslin, and Zion Wright raised the bar to new heights for making the cut.
Freshly returned from the injury that saw him miss the SLS Pro Open in London in May, Nyjah Huston jumped into the fray with a perfect run. Rifling of technical moves at a fast clip, highlights included a gap out to frontside nosegrind on the Big Section rail, overturned frontside 180 into backward nosegrind revert (reverse Suciu grind) on the centerpiece rail and backside 180 backward nosegrind revert on the bank to ledge) for an 8.8 points Run score. Stacking technical Best Tricks like Caballerial lipslide down the big rail (8.5 points) saw Nyjah advancing into the Top Eight – marking his 38th career SLS Final – in second place.
While the Prelims already felt like a fight for the win, the actual Final turned up the heat by yet another notch. Japan’s Yuto Hirogome set the tone by posting a Nine Club Run score on his first attempt to bump a dominant Chris Joslin from the top of the leaderboard.
Unfazed by this level of competition, Nyjah fired back with a Nine Club finals run of his own: Gap out to frontside nosegrind the big section rail, reverse Suciu grind the centerpiece rail, 360 kickflip over the kicker, ollie up to nose stall revert on the top bar, frontside 180 to overcrooks the bump rail, backside Smith grind the center ledge, backside 180 nosegrind coming out forward the big section ledge, backside kickflip disaster the quarter pipe and a highly technical gap out backside 180 to nosegrind onto the big section rail netted a 9.1-point score and the lead.
Next, the Best Trick section unfolded as one of the fiercest battles in Street League history. Nyjah posted a technical backside nollie 180 to backward nosegrind the big section rail for 8.7 points, only to find himself leapfrogged by Brazil’s Kelvin Hoefler on the next attempt before Yuto Horigome cemented an above 36-point lead that would hold until the end.
Nyjah came back with a 360 kickflip to frontside 50-50 grind the big section rail for another Nine Club score at 9.1 points. But on his second to last attempt, Nyjah came down hard on his hurt knee on a kickflip 270 to lipslide that could have landed him on the podium. Also missing his final try, Nyjah walked away with fourth place and a 35.0-point score. Nevertheless, it’s great to see Nyjah back in an SLS final so soon after rehabilitation from a significant injury at this early point in the 2018 season.
Also putting on a strong performance at Galen Center today, Monster Energy’s Kyle Walker landed a perfect run featuring high-speed kickflip over the centerpiece kicker, backside tailslide the quarter pipe, frontside nosegrind the entire centerpiece ledge, fakie 50-50 down the hubba, half Cab boardslide revert the rail, and a textbook Caballerial down the big stairs. But when it came down to Best Trick attempts, 2016’s Thrasher magazine Skater of the Year stoked the crowd with a perfect frontside half Cab kickflip the big stairs (8.0 points), but could not lock down another score to reach the finals.
Unfortunately, Monster’s Ishod Wair had to withdraw from the contest today after an injury sustained in practice when he collided with Chris Joslin on the street course.
If you missed tonight’s live Web Cast on ETN you can re-watch the action from the 2018 SLS World Tour stop in Los Angeles on ESPN 2 on July 10 and on ABC’s World of X on August 11.
The 2018 Street League Skateboarding World Tour will continue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Now that SLS Los Angeles is in the books, also look forward to Nyjah, Ishod and Monster Energy riders Tom Schaar, Trey Wood, and Lizzie Armanto competing at X Games Minneapolis, Minnesota from July 19–22, 2018. Also don’t miss the summer’s premier skateboard event, CPH Open in Berlin, co-presented by Monster Energy from August 9–12.