Seven tricks at six spots in hardly more than a day-it's just an ordinary weekend away from home for the youngest, ripping up-and-comer skateboarding's ever seen.
No matter what activity a "young" person excels in, his or her age is the determining factor for how good they really are. Whether they're eight, nine, or ten years old or well into they're teens, their age provides the ceiling for how good they can possibly be for the little time they've devoted to what they're doing. These people are admired and acknowledged for their talents, yet are never held in the same category as the "pros" or someone with a lot more experience. And even when they do show exemplary talent, they're often held back by restrictions (usually, ahem, age) by their given activity. That's why little Johnny from Nebraska may make the SportsCenter highlight reel for his game-winning Little League World Series home run, or maybe even get a "Faces In The Crowd" in Sports Illustrated, but you'll never see him stepping up to the plate to attempt to hit a Roger Clemens fastball.
Nyjah Huston skates along a lineage of child skate prodigies-where some have greatly succeeded in their skateboarding careers (Guy Mariano, Ryan Sheckler), but others have straight fallen into obscurity (Chris Branaugh, Jesse Roach). The only thing is, with every trick this nappy-headed eleven year old throws down, you can't just say, "Damn, that's good for a kid," you have to say, "Damn, that's just good!"
Armed with his photographic spot-memory constructed by hours and hours of paging through skate mags and watching his favorite videos, Nyjah and his family loaded up their RV (as they normally do for all skate trips) and bolted out of their home on the outskirts of Sacramento. The mission: head down to Southern California to hook up with veteran skate photographer Chris Ortiz-the same man who shot Nyjah's very first published skate photo-and get as many absolutely ridiculous photos as possible, all in a single weekend.
What you're about to see in the coming pages was all logged in a 29-hour, Saturday-to-Sunday period in early March.
Spot Number One
Saturday, 12:05 p.m.
The now-famous Santa Monica rail was on Nyjah's original to-do list, and with Element Team Manager Ryan DeWitt behind the wheel of the Element van, along with a whole crew of people including Nyjah's dad and brothers behind the lenses of multiple video cameras, Nyjah knew there was no time to mess around. If the whole fam and the intimidating Ortiz behind the lens wasn't enough, there was also a Saturday-school class going on inside the door atop the stairs.
With little time to accomplish the task at hand, Nyjah launched and landed an ollie down the stairs on his first attempt and then stomped the heelflip (opening spread) in two tries. "Are you kidding me?" were the only words Ortiz could muster up. Chris soon found out Nyjah was slightly kidding, 'cause he also had this backside Smith grind up his sleeve-in, oh, a mere five tries-and without even attempting a warm-up boardslide or 50-50 on it first. The teacher might have been vexed, but Nyjah and crew were psyched-one spot and two bangers.
Spot Number Two
East Los Angeles
Saturday, 2:32 p.m.
Like the previous spot, this rail in a park deep in the heart of Mexican gangland was also on Nyjah's original list of spots to hit up. Upon arrival, however, the park was inundated with families, and the landing of the rail was playing home to a roach coach. But that just gave the crew ample time to prep the spot before the inevitable slaughtering Nyjah was about to dish out. With DeWitt and brother on guard to stop the eleven year old's body from flying into oncoming traffic, this big-spin frontside bluntslide gave Nyjah a run for his money. But then again, this is a trick most pros couldn't do on a flatbar, much less a handrail twice their size.
Spot Number Three
Saturday, 7:22 p.m.
After checking out ssome hubbas in West Covina that Nyjah surely would have taxed if it weren't for the temporary no run-up, as well as an L.A. church where the crew was given the immediate boot, the boys found themselves in Brea, for, you guessed it, another rail. Sometimes it just works like that, and for Nyjah, this weekend was strictly a business trip (but don't think the kid's not having a blast the whole way).
While setting up the lights upon arrival at this rail in Brea, a cop rolled up and told the crew to pack it up and get out. Chris pleaded with Mr. Po-Po for just a few minutes to take care of business and the cop responded, "I'll be back in five minutes and you better be tearing this down." Upon hearing that, Nyjah warmed up with a frontside boardslide once or twice, then went straight into the frontside hurricane and nailed it in no time. By 8:00 p.m., the crew was up and gone, waving and thanking Mr. Po-Po all the way home-that is, the motorhome parked in the Element parking lot where Mother and Sister Huston were eagerly awaiting the homecoming of their men at work.
Spot Number Four
Sunday, 11:43 a.m.
This nine-set was last on Nyjah's personal to-do list, so it's where he decided to start off on Sunday morning. Without even so much as ollieing down the stairs to loosen the joints, Nyjah went straight for the fakie 360 flip. Confidence in youth will do that to a man, err, kid, and about fifteen tries was all it took to get a clean one. He was just warming up… for the day, that is.
Spot Number Five
Sunday, 1:56 p.m.
After Nyjah had been messing around on this double-set for a good twenty minutes (this was a spot thrown at him off the cuff via Ortiz and his very-well-notated Thomas Guide), he finally decided to go for the switch flip. Ten minutes later, and with some lady breathing down Ortiz's neck like she owned the place while trying to remove any bodies related to this "havoc-causing" crew, Nyjah put all four wheels down like it wasn't no thang.
Spot Number Six
Undisclosed Parking Lot
Sunday, 4:29 p.m.
"We went there first on Saturday," says Ortiz about this massive drop over the rail. "There was a car there, but I knew he wanted to skate it. I knew he was gonna kill it." This drop is many, many Nyjahs in height and, unlike the spots before it, was no easy task for the kid. "Let's just say it wasn't an ollie-make first try," Ortiz admitted. But hey, we know the kid couldn't have charged this thing all day and still lived. A few tries for the ollie, a solid ten for the backside 180, and history was made before the sun went down on Sunday evening.