Words by Kevin Duffel. Video by Chris Thiessen.
This past Sunday, 16-year-old Nyjah Huston made a quick 165,000 bucks–over three times the average yearly household income in the United States. That’s 82,500 dollars an hour, seeing as how the Street League finals only officially lasted a mere two hours. (Sure beats the minimum wage paychecks most kids his age are raking in.)
The preliminary stop of this year’s Street League contest circuit–held at Seattle’s Key Arena just a few short steps from the Space Needle–seriously went off. Cole, Sheckler, Pudwill, P Rod, and others skated with more consistency than what seems humanly possible, pulling outrageous shit like switch big heels down the nine stair first go. Apparently that 150,000-dollar purse is quite the motivator.
Although Shane O’Neill and Chaz Ortiz (who placed second and third, respectively) indisputably killed it as expected, it was Nyjah who came out on top. And with first-try tricks like nollie back noseblunts on the bump-to-bar and 360 flip lipslides down the nine stair rail, his win was undeniably well deserved.
And if you’re wondering why the bottom four skaters (placed 7-10) finished with such low scores, it’s because this year’s format has changed considerably. The two lowest ranked skaters from each of the first two sections are eliminated from the contest, which, for Street League Seattle meant: sorry P Rod, Mikey Taylor, Mike Mo, and Billy Marks, better luck at the next stop.
At times, with bright fluorescent lights beaming down from above, the event felt more like a wrestling match or basketball game than an average skate contest: barely-dressed and caked in makeup, Monster energy drink cheerleaders (called the Dimesquad) roamed around and gave out prizes; concession stands were on hand to provide fresh popcorn and beer; even Matt Miller was shooting t-shirts from a gun into the stands at one point. Indeed, it was a spectacle of Barnum and Bailey proportion, placing an equal emphasis on the experience of the audience as the skating itself. But that’s what you go to a skate contest for, right? The main objective of events like these has always been about having a good time, and judging by the audience’s uncontrollable screaming and shouting after every trick, it seems like Street League delivered.
So while it’s not too often I wanna write something corny like, “the crowd went wild,” after Nyjah secured first place and won an additional 15,000 bucks when he spun a backside 270 ollie, locked his nose straight into a perfectly poked back noseblunt, and rolled away from the course’s nine stair rail, holy shit, the crowd really did go wild. Myself included.
Here are the full results:
Mike Mo Capaldi