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Monster athletes compete at the 2018 SLS stop in Huntington Beach, CA
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SLS Tour Stop - Huntington Beach

Dec 172018

The 2018 SLS World Tour ended with a nail-biting showdown on Sunday, December 16, at Vans Off the Wall Skatepark in Huntington Beach, California. In front of a capacity crowd and thousands of viewers on live stream, Japan’s Yuto Horigome claimed first place in the second 2018 SLS World Tour stop, while Monster Energy’s Nyjah Huston had to settle for seventh place after struggling with a technical handrail move.

On a positive note, today’s finish qualifies Huston for the upcoming Super Crown World Championship in January 2019, where he will defend his title as reigning Super Crown champion against the world street skateboarding elite.

Sidelined from earlier SLS season events due to a knee injury, Huston needed today’s final chance to secure his way into the Super Crown event. Having won the coveted trophy four times in his career already, the 24-year-old from Laguna Beach, California, entered today’s contest seated in 23rd place in 2018 SLS season standings and looking for a score boost.

Known to thrive under pressure, Huston came into the contest fully focused on claiming those points. Landing a perfect Run and tech moves in Best Trick – including Half Cab to backside Smith grind revert and kickflip backside Smith grind the big rail – moved Huston into the finals in first place with a 33.5-point score.

The level of trick difficulty escalated in the finals stacked with eight of the world’s best street skateboarders. Australia’s Shane O’Neill set the bar high by posting a Nine Club score on his first Run, putting the rest of the field under pressure to land flawless routines. Following closely behind were Brazil’s Kelvin Hoefler and Japan’s Yuto Horigome, winner of the past two SLS events.

Reaching deep into his technical bag of tricks, Huston fired back with a perfect Nine Club Run loaded with heavy tricks rifled off at speed: kickflip backside lipslide the big rail, backside 180 to nosegrind revert the bump to hubba, 360 kickflip and big flip up the Euro gap, gap out Caballerial to backside lipslide the center rail, switch frontside 5-0 grind the big rail and kickflip nose manual across the ledge scored 9.0 points.

In Best Trick attempts Dashawn Jordan and Kelvin Hoefler turned up the heat, but Huston took over the lead with a Half Cab backside Smith grind 180 out down the big rail for 8.6 points. However, he soon found himself leapfrogged by Jordan after struggling several times with a difficult rail trick – a nollie heelflip backside lipslide the big rail – ultimately leaving Huston only one final attempt to break through.

With everything riding on the last attempt of the contest and Yuto Horigome locked into the top spot, Huston put everything on the line for another nollie heelflip backside lipslide attempt, which ended up getting away from him. Having only posted three scores out of four, Huston finished with 25.9 points and seventh place.

In the bigger picture, qualifying into the Super Crown ends a challenging year for Huston on a positive note. After sustaining a knee injury at Tampa Pro in March, the winningest skateboarder in SLS history was forced to miss the SLS Pro Open London in May. Fresh out of physical therapy, he had to settle for fourth place at the Los Angeles SLS Tour Stop in July. But only a few weeks later, the four-time SLS World Champion returned to full form by winning X Games gold in Skateboard Street at X Games Minneapolis and has been on a tear ever since.

Also stoking out the crowd with ultra-technical street skating, Huston’s Monster Energy teammate Matt Berger received a Nine Club score – the highest-scoring trick of the prelims at 9.1 points – for a difficult frontside bluntslide kickflip fakie out on the big rail.

If you missed today’s live Web Cast on streetleague.com you can re-watch the action from the 2018 SLS World Tour stop in Huntington Beach on ESPN 2 on December 20 at 8:30 p.m. PT and on ABC’s World of X on January 6, 2019 at 1 p.m. PT.

Now that SLS Huntington Beach is in the books, look forward to seeing Huston defend his current championship title at the SLS Super Crown Finals from January 12–13, 2019 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Presented in association with the World Skate association, Super Crown is the officially recognized world championship of street skateboarding. Now held in an all-new international format, Super Crown pits the season’s top-ranking SLS pros against a slew of qualifying riders from across the globe in a not-to-be-missed event.

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