Nyjah Huston defends Street League title
BARCELONA, Spain -- Nyjah Huston won his second consecutive X Games gold medal on Saturday in the Street League Skateboarding final, winning on every section of the three-part course. Paul "P-Rod" Rodriguez, the gold medalist at X Games Los Angeles 2012, took silver, followed by newcomer Manny Santiago in third.
"I was so nervous. I've never felt that much pressure," said Huston, the 2012 Street League champion. "I've never felt a feeling like that before ... Congrats to Paul. He gave me such an amazing battle and made me work for that so hard."
After brief rain delays on the course, Huston charged on his first of two attempts in the Flow section with a run that included a massive backside 180 nosegrind on the Hubba ledge. He then won the Control section with a 9.1 for a technical kickflip to frontside hurricane grind, extending his lead in Street League's elite "9" club as the skater with the most scores of 9.0 or higher.
"Everyone out there is killing it so hard and the progression is going at such a high level," Huston said.
The win gives Huston his sixth X Games medal, a haul that includes last month's Street gold in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, a win at X Games Los Angeles 2011 and the Real Street video contest gold from 2012. This also makes Huston undefeated in Street League competition in the first year of Street League's new partnership with X Games.
"Each and every contest it gets gnarlier and gnarlier," Huston said. "You really have to give it your all."Also Saturday at X Games Barcelona:
• Veteran Gary Young claimed his first X Games gold medal after fending off Ryan Nyquist and Scotty Cranmer in BMX Park.
"I've been so close a few times," Young said shortly after the victory, holding his infant daughter and celebrating with his wife, Sarah. "It feels so unreal."
The event marked Young's 13th X Games appearance. He won the bronze medal in this event in 2009 and 2010. By the halfway mark of the 18-minute jam session Saturday, Young had taken a considerable lead, drawing his signature stylish, fast, concrete-influenced lines across the course.Nyquist, 34, added new tricks to his run -- including a 720 transfer up to the deck and a double bar spin 540 -- to put himself within striking distance of the gold but winding up with the silver.
Cranmer, 26, who won this event at X Games Los Angeles in 2012 and 2009, took home the bronze. Crowd favorite Sergio Layos of Madrid finished just off the podium in fourth. Citing problems with his bike, defending gold medalist Kyle Baldock failed to advance to the six-man final.
• Off-road racing legend Mike Brown of Tennessee grabbed the holeshot and defended his lead through an exhilarating finish to win his second Enduro X gold medal.
Brown, who at 41 was the race's oldest competitor, narrowly held off silver medalist Colton Haaker, who came within inches of passing Brown near the finish. Brown's bike got stuck between two rocks and his back wheel started spinning, but he muscled it free just in time to rocket the final 50 feet through the finish. Cody Webb claimed bronze.
Taddy Blazusiak of Poland, the defending champion in this event from X Games Foz do Iguaçu, pushed Brown for much of the 10-lap race, at one point pulling even while both were suspended 20 feet in the air on Lap 9. But the landing bucked Blazusiak and he fell back from there, ultimately crashing near the end of the race. He was fourth.
"That's what you call a good race," Brown said. "It's hard to get a start like that and beat Taddy and lead in front of him. I had arm problems from probably Lap 5 on but was just like, 'I can do it, I can do it, one more lap and then another lap and another lap.' I just kept my head cool, and then my last lap there I relaxed too much and got stuck in the rocks. I'm just glad to be here and have a gold medal."
• A highly anticipated Moto X Freestyle three-peat attempt by Japan's Taka Higashino met overnight rain on Friday and high winds on Saturday, forcing officials to cancel the event.
After steady rain Friday night, course workers prepped the jumps and landing areas throughout the day to make it contestable, but as time arrived to start the event, high winds picked up.
"Due to high winds, the Moto X Freestyle competition was changed to a demo," ESPN said in a statement. "The health and safety of our athletes is a top priority."
High winds can be dangerous and potentially deadly for freestyle motocross riders performing backflip variations and other elite-level maneuvers considered highly difficult even in perfect conditions.
Moto X Freestyle competition is scheduled to return to X Games next month at X Games Munich.
Last month in Brazil at X Games Foz, the 28-year-old Higashino won his second consecutive gold medal, following his win at X Games Los Angeles last summer.
Information from XGames.com contributor Devon O'Neil was included in this report.