Simon Heath, Alex Corporan, and Shut skateboards gave Street League tickets to the Old Bastards crew. Thanks for hooking up Paul S and I. I met Paul earlier that day, but he drove me to the Prudential Center in Jersey for the competition. I was impressed by the arena, and how aesthetically pleasing the skate course looked. I’ve never been to the X-games, Dew Tour and other major events but I think this is a step up for the sport. For a long time skate comps would be outside on wooden hastily made ramps, or inside at skate parks with no air conditioning and little thought to the audience.
Our timing was perfect that we found our seats, got our beers, and the contest started. I think one challenge skate contests have is staying on a schedule. Skaters need to stay warmed up, and it was common for contests to run over the planned timeframe. For live television that doesn’t work, and everything must run like clockwork. The contest started at 9 and finished at 10:50, so that works for a two-hour timeslot.
I’ve criticized Street League before on this blog for not having enough skaters for a legitimate comp. They did open it up this year in the first event. As a result the non-famous skater, Matt Berger, made it to the finals, and it came down to his last trick. The other improvement from a few years ago is that they change the course each time. They are going away from putting emphasis on a large stair set with a large rail. The Maloof Money Cup contests lasted a few years and that started the trend of a huge staircase being the focus. I think the three sections at this Street League event were unique, and I’m interested to witnessing the contests evolve in the next few years.
The contest had three heats. The first part had two 45-second runs by each of the 8 skaters, with the best run counting. Luan Olivera was a joy to watch in this section. Ishod Wair used the tranny quarters like no one else. Torey Pudwell had an amazing first run, but fell a few times on his second run. Nyjah Huston had two solid runs. I found this part enjoyable, but maybe the organizers are right to do runs as the first part and then go to best trick. Traditional contests would only be runs. A mix of runs and best tricks make sense. After the runs Shane O’Neil got eliminated.
The second heat was a best trick out of 5 attempts. This was entertaining to watch, and most of the skaters did well. After that heat was done Luan Olivera got cut. Paul Rodriguez placed 6th and he is one of my favorites to watch, his switch is the smoothest I’ve seen, and I constantly have to remind myself he’s goofy footed. The last heat was with the six finalists and again the best trick. The difference was out of 5 tries the score was averaged by their 3 best tricks. So to compete each skater had to land 3 solid tricks.
Nyjay Huston off the euro gap did a fakie full cab to backside noseblunt slide, a nollie halfcab heelflip down the big drop, and to win a full cab kickflip down the euro gap. I agree that one of his scores was high. His nollie to backside bluntside on the gap to rail was a 9.1, when similar variations by other skaters scored lower.
But, Nyjah Huston skated awesome, consistently and better than the competition. Hands down he won it. Skateboarding competitions have never been a good judge of street skateboarding. I’m not saying Nyjah Huston is the best skateboarder right now, but he is the best at Street League and he won Tampa Pro this year. He won every contest he entered this year. During the commercial breaks and warm ups he was killing it, he took more practice tricks than the other skaters. The only time I was bummed at this event was when spectators booed Nyjah Huston at the podium. Those kids need to grow up. Nyjah Huston deserved the win. Maybe the booing puts Huston in good company, according to the Bones Brigade documentary Tony Hawk was booed and hated by a lot of skaters in the early 80’s. I’m hoping to watch Nyjah Huston for the next few decades, being that he’s only 19.
My friend Mike Burrill at Village Psychic got on the course by volunteering for www.stoked.org . Mike wrote up a nice entry with great pictures. Check it out, http://www.villagepsychic.net/blog/2014/8/25/sticky-rails-in-jersey-with-prod