|ESPN.com: X Games LA 2012||[Print without images]|
LOS ANGELES -- Paul "P-Rod" Rodriguez picked up his fourth Skateboard Street gold on Sunday in Los Angeles after beating last year's gold medalist, Nyjah Huston, and three-time gold medalist Ryan Sheckler in a final packed with heavy hitters. Rodriguez now holds the record for the most Skateboard Street gold medals.
"It's always a blessing, and any win feels good," P-Rod said after the win, "but I've got my little girl Heaven in the crowd and, oh man, I feel great to be able to win in front of her. I'm blessed. Thank you so much, God. Thank you, everybody."
P-Rod came into the finals as the top qualifier ahead of other elimination heat winners Sheckler, Ryan Decenzo, Chaz Ortiz and Real Street Fan Favorite finalist Manny Santiago. Huston was the favorite coming into the competition. His 2011 X Games gold and a recent streak of Street League wins had left him looking invincible, and a knee injury was causing him trouble all weekend, forcing to miss practice.
"To be honest, it hurts pretty bad," Huston admitted before the competition. "I definitely won't be skating my best, but I'll try."
Huston looked strong in both the elimination round and his final runs, which included a 360 flip to frontside boardslide and a huge kickflip backside noseblunt slide down the rail, but he could be seen favoring his knee. He took a pretty bad fall before the end of the competition.
That left an opening for Rodriguez, who dominated the course with technical switch tricks such as a switch kickflip frontside boardslide, a switch frontside bluntslide, and a switch 360 flip down the stair set.
"I just worked to my strengths, really, and I think that's what everybody did because in a contest it's about consistency," he explained. He says he felt out of his league on some of the bigger transition features on the course that Sheckler, Decenzo and Santiago were making use of. "You've just got to go do your hardest go-to tricks and cross your fingers and pray that it's good enough."
Sheckler, who last won gold in 2010, made a valiant effort to topple his friend and Plan B Skateboards teammate in his final run, which included a kickflip over the roof gap, a tweaked frontside air over the hip, a bluntslide, a backside tailslide, a frontside rail transfer and a backside 360 ollie off the dinosaur sculpture. Sheckler's final run was good enough for silver, bumping Huston to bronze-medal position and knocking Ortiz off the podium.
"Switch tre flip, switch everything, flipping his board in and out of everything? Paul's the most deserving dude to win today, and I'm glad to follow up right behind him," Sheckler said. "Plan B first and second? I couldn't ask for anything better. I really needed this, and I feel great."
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