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This year, X Games partnered with Street League Skateboarding to grow the Street League series from four stops in 2012 to seven contests in 2013, including three international locations and a season-ending championship event. This weekend marks the finale to that global tour, with the Super Crown Finals in Newark, N.J. Here's what you can look forward to seeing in Newark and, in case you've been living under a rock, a recap of the past six stops. (Spoiler alert: The most dominant force in Street League history, Nyjah Huston, won two-thirds of the events.)
It's easier to count the number of Street Leagues Nyjah Huston has lost than those he's won (here's the count: This year, he won four, lost one, and sat one out because of injury). Over the past three years, Huston's Street League contest earnings are well over $1 million, and there seems to be no end in sight.
With this weekend's Super Crown Finals it's winner take all -- so who stands a chance at unseating Huston? Paul Rodriguez was the only skater who beat Huston this year, and Chris Cole took the victory while Huston was benched, recovering from a rib injury. Sean Malto has proved capable of staging an upset, but in true Huston fashion, whenever the competition gets close, he ups the ante and kicks the peasants back into their place. We expect much of the same in Newark.
"I think the other guys have begun to understand what needs to happen to win," Street League co-founder Rob Dyrdek has said. Tune in to ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET Sunday to find out.
Huston put his stamp on the first contest of the year in Brazil. Street League commentator Brandon Graham said it best on the live broadcast, with five minutes left to go, "I hate to be anticlimactic but no one can catch Nyjah at this point." Malto's second-place score of 39.8 was a full nine points behind Huston. But the major highlight of the event was watching Luan Oliveira in his first Street League appearance take fourth place in front of his fellow Brazilians, some of the most dedicated skateboarding fans on the planet.
Spain was arguably one of the most heated Street League battles of 2013. Perennial superstar Rodriguez faced a healthy and full-strength Huston for the top spot. Though P-Rod fell short of the win, he did so by only one-tenth of a point -- Huston won with a 50.4, Rodriguez got a 50.3. But the most exciting story of Barcelona was dark horse Manny Santiago, who earned a spot in Street League by winning the Street League Select Series, a qualifying contest that allows one new skater to climb the ranks. Santiago beat nearly all of the regular contestants to take a bronze medal, proving that Santiago should be a Street League regular.
Huston was untouchable in Kansas City with a score of 55.2, the highest SL score all year, while second-place Cole was less than four points behind him. The highlight for most hard-core skaters was the emergence of Alien Workshop's Dylan Rieder, who took fourth place. Rieder is your favorite skater's favorite skater and he rode the course unlike anyone in Street League history. Rieder, for one brief, shining afternoon, showed the mainstream Street League audience what he is truly capable of.
The year so far made it clear that the only person who could beat Huston would be Huston himself. Upon arriving in Munich, there was a collective sigh of relief heard from the Street League competitors when it was known that Huston would not be competing (he injured his ribs skating a set of stairs just before the event). For the first time all season, it gave the rest of the field a fighting chance to win. Cole turned up the heat with his best performance since the 2012 finals while narrowly beating out Rodriguez with his final run.
SLS title sponsor Nike SB, based just outside Portland in Beaverton, Ore., used the local setting to launch and celebrate Rodriguez's latest shoe, the P-Rod 7. It came as no surprise that Rodriguez won in front of the rabid Nike crowd while Huston was still battling injuries. Had the swoosh-emblazoned crowd not been so in favor of P-Rod, perhaps second-place Cole, who took the runner-up position three times in 2013, might have closed the half-point gap that separated him from victory.
If you've seen Huston's 2011 "Rise and Shine" video segment, in which he slams his head attempting to backside Smith grind an 18-stair handrail, then gets right up, tries it again and lands it, you'd have no doubt he could return after his injuries to claim top honors in another Street League event. In front of a packed arena at X Games Los Angeles, Huston skated in typical form and landed nearly everything with ease, scoring a 53, the second-highest SL score after his 55.2 in Kansas City -- and gave silver medalist Cole a reminder that had Huston been in Munich he likely would have won there, too.