Monday, June 13, 2011

Ryan Sheckler

Here are the decisions of a 16-year-old skating wunderkind.
Win $150,000 one month and settle on a Mercedes as a starter vehicle. Win another $150,000 a month later, and wrestle between making a down payment on a house, buying an SUV, or perhaps doing both.
Such is the life of Nyjah Huston, the defending Street League DC Pro Tour champion who has only improved in the 2011 season. He continued his dominance Sunday at Sprint Center, winning his second consecutive event and grabbing his second $150,000 check in as many months.
“Usually he dominates,” Street League founder Rob Dyrdek said. “This time he had to fight for it.”
Huston entered Kansas City as the favorite not only because he won the season’s first event in Seattle, but also because he won the inaugural Street League championship a year ago.
A skater with Rastafarian dreadlocks draped down his back, Huston’s ability to gently land complex and difficult tricks made him stand out Sunday as much as his long hair.
He remained near the top of the crowded pack during the first three events against a competitive field that alternated leaders. But in the competition’s final leg Huston fell on his second of seven attempts. The skaters around him, meanwhile, kept piling up points.
He fell again on his fourth attempt and dropped to last place in the six-man final.
“I pretty much thought the other guys had it,” Huston said.
Heading into his final attempt, Huston needed to land his last trick for his second win of the year. Showing the poise of a skater who has been there before — and he has despite his youth — Huston smoothly landed the trick.
Huston scored an impressive 8.7 on his final attempt and slipped past the pack, including local favorite and fourth-place finisher Sean Malto.
Malto, who grew up in Leavenworth, now lives just eight blocks from the Sprint Center in the River Market district. On Sunday, he walked to the Sprint Center and prepared himself the best he could for performing in front of his home crowd.
“I didn’t know what it was going to be like for me,” Malto said.
From the start, he drew the loudest reactions. Chants of “Malto! Malto!” caught on, and a video of Malto skating around the city decked in Chiefs gear played twice.
Subsequently, those fighting Malto for the top spot also received the loudest cheers of any skaters who failed to land a trick.
“I’ve skated in these contests before, and there are a lot of pressures,” said Malto, 21. “The Kansas City stop, I knew it was going to be amazing. Me and my friends kept saying this is going to be awesome. But it blew out all of our expectations.”
Malto missed the league’s season opener in Seattle while rehabbing an injured knee, but he made sure to return in time for the tour’s first stop in Kansas City.
He actually led the event with two attempts to go. But in his final two attempts Malto couldn’t land his tricks and slipped to fourth.
“Obviously I was freaking out a little bit,” Malto said. “But at the end of the day, it’s all about fun. I made it to fourth place, and I’m happy with the results and everything.”

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