Nyjah Huston: Medals, motors and more
Nyjah Huston is the best competition skater in the history of the street discipline. Still just 21, Huston has won six of the past seven X Games Skateboard Street contests, a streak blemished only by missing Munich 2013 due to injury. His win at February's X Games Oslo puts his gold streak at four, and, though he's favored to make it five at X Games Austin 2016, he takes nothing for granted.
"I never, ever feel like I have it in the bag, especially with Luan Oliveira and Shane O'neill and Paul Rodriguez and the rest of the guys always pushing so hard," Huston says. "I haven't even allowed my head to go there."
We have. Huston is climbing the ranks of the greatest X Games skaters of all time.
Recent reminders that he's beatable have helped keep him humble, Huston says. He finished fourth at Tampa Pro in March, where O'neill won. He fell to an uncharacteristic second place overall behind Oliveira on the 2015 Street League series, with one win and two second-place finishes.
"I get a reality check every time I see those guys doing things I can't do, which happens every single day," Huston insists. "It helps me to focus on one thing at a time. It's not even one day at a time or one contest at a time. It's more like one trick, one fraction of a second at a time."
Closer to the forefront of his mind, he says, is designing his new signature shoe and filming a video part for a recently added sponsor: Huston announced on New Year's Eve the industry-rattling news that he had parted ways with longtime sponsor DC Shoes and joined the Nike SB team, alongside Oliveira, O'neill, Rodriguez, Ishod Wair, Trevor Colden (that's at least half of this year's Men's Skateboard Street field) and more.
He wants to get his next steps right. The new shoe won't be ready before X Games Austin, so he'll be wearing Rodriguez' signature P-Rod 9 kicks instead -- just like he did in Oslo.
"I've known most of the Nike SB guys a long time and the team is just insane, from P-Rod -- the legend, still killing it -- to Luan and Shane, Ishod, Trevor, Leticia Bufoni, everybody," Huston says. "The whole team is stacked."
In April, he had to cut short his first demo tour with the new team after bruising his left heel at an event in São Paulo, Brazil, another reminder that he is not indestructible. Taking two weeks off just a month before the first event of the 2016 Street League series (May 21-22 in Barcelona, Spain) and six weeks before X Games Austin isn't ideal, but Huston is trying to be cautious.
"It's just a typical skate injury, but bruised heels are super annoying because they tend to linger if you don't stay off of them," Huston says. "It's not something I want to mess with, especially right before Street League and X Games."
The rare moment of downtime has been welcome. Huston recently celebrated his one-year anniversary of dating model and former beauty queen Cassidy Wolf (Miss Teen USA 2013), and he's looking forward to spending extra time with her before the contest season becomes hectic.
"She's a cool chick and this relationship has been really good for me," he says. "It always helps to have someone keep me focused, keep me mellow."
He'll also enjoy extra time with his other love: a garage full of hot wheels he buys to celebrate major accomplishments. The Audi R8 remains his favorite, and he just tricked it out with a new blue wrap and custom upgrades from Paul Roberts, owner of Shoreline Motoring in Huntington Beach, California. "I honestly think I'll have that car forever," Huston says. "I'd like to pass that car on to my kids someday. I like switching the wrap up to give it a little refresh, instead of doing a new paint job, because it protects the stock paint and also customizes it."
Recent additions to the motors collection include the Lamborghini Aventador he bought after inking the Nike deal and the Ducati Streetfighter 848 motorcycle he bought after winning X Games Oslo: both already have undergone custom makeovers.
"It bums me out when I see people driving fancy cars and not making them look special," he says of his custom obsession. "I understand it -- these rides are so expensive to begin with -- but I think if you're going to spend that much, you should spend some more to really make it yours. That's the best part for me. As soon as I get anything new, I want to do it up in my own special way."
The wheels aren't just for ogling, either. Huston has taken some precision driving courses at a track in nearby Sonoma and says his next project will be an Audi M3 that he's planning to make track-ready, with a full roll cage and racing kit. He's also been riding his Honda CRX 250 dirt bike (he is on the lead bike) on the trails every chance he gets, and he's been learning to do some of the mechanical work himself.
"Ever since I was a little kid I've been into fast cars, off-road trucks, dirt bikes, anything with wheels," he says. "I have a nice house and otherwise live pretty modestly, but if there's anything I'm going to spend money on, it's always going to be cars. I'll probably forever be dropping money on expensive cars. It's honestly one of the things that motivates me to keep skating harder and harder."