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Nyjah Huston won the 2014 Street League Skateboarding opener in Chicago on Sunday, claiming the $100,000 prize after battling all night with Shane O'Neill.
Huston, who was the top qualifier for the tour at the SLS Pro Open in May, came on strong in the flow section of Sunday's final, edging out Paul Rodriguez and O'Neill and proving he could take command of a course seemingly designed to thwart him. With no handrails anywhere on the course, the jumble of features -- Huston called it a "bump and ledge heaven" -- was expected to favor other skaters.
"This course makes it a lot harder," he said after the flow section of the contest. "A lot of us aren't used to skating these obstacles, so it's tough."
In the impact section, where Huston frequently dominates, it was O'Neill's turn to impress. He posted the biggest score of the night with a 9.8, taking over the lead after landing a massive switch double flip. That score was just shy of O'Neill's SLS best, a 9.9 in 2013 (Huston has also scored a 9.9, in 2011), but it was more than enough to bump Huston down to second place and Rodriguez to third heading into the final portion of the contest.
Lead changes were rampant in the control section, with each rider getting six attempts and free rein of the entire course. Luan Oliveira posted the biggest single trick score with a 9.5 thanks to a backside kickflip from flat to flat over a big ledge box on the course. O'Neill joined the 9 Club again, with a 9.1 for nollie biggerspin that left his competitors wiping sweat from their brows in disbelief.
But Huston also came to play, scoring 9.0 with a nollie frontside heelflip and keeping his control section average high enough to walk away with the win.
"That was one hell of a contest," Huston posted to Twitter immediately afterward, as is his way. "Congrats to all the skaters for absolutely killing it."
The 2014 Street League World Tour continues in Los Angeles on July 27 and concludes in August with the SLS Super Crown in Newark, New Jersey. Huston, who won his sixth X Games gold medal earlier this month in the Skateboard Street final at X Games Austin, is in the hunt for his third Street League overall championship.