In 2006, Nyjah Huston placed No. 8 in his X Games debut in the street skating practice. In 2009, the California native won a medal for the first time in the discipline, finishing second. Since then, he’s been a consistent presence near the top of the podium, amassing six gold medals, a bronze and a second silver, all in street skating. Huston will drop in this weekend as the defending street skate champion; his mission: capture number 10.
SI.com: Why is street the skateboard practice for you?
Nyjah Huston: I’d say street skating is the most fun of the six skateboarding events for me personally. It’s also because you can do it anywhere. You don’t need a specific ramp or competition; you can just go shred anywhere around your hometown and have a blast with it. That’s the best part about street skating.
What’s your pre-competition ritual?
NH: I just try to get a good practice in, eat a good meal to make sure I’m physically and mentally prepared. When I do that I go in feeling confident. I try to stay away from rituals or superstitions because if they aren’t able to happen for whatever reason, that’s when you can begin to freak your mind out. I do my best just to stay calm and keep it mellow.
You’ve been the defending street skater at X Games since 2012. What it's like to be the man to beat?
NH: It’s crazy to think that back when I was 11 years old I was skating X Games. I think that is what’s even crazier than winning a few medals here recently. I have so many memories of X Games; it’s unreal that it’s already been so long. It’s tight though. It makes me want to keep pushing forward. That’s what really matters to me. As long as I feel like I’m consistently progressing and moving forward, that's truly what is most important to me.
Who did you grow up watching as a kid?
NH: I grew up watching PRod and Chris Cole. To be able to skate with them in competition is an honor. It’s been a wild feeling ever since I met those guys. I feel like I’m in a special position to be so young and to be an idol to all these kids out here. It’s something I take seriously because I’ve definitely been in their shoes.
Which has been your favorite X Games venue and why?
NH: I would say my favorite X Games event had to be the one in Spain [in 2013] because the skate course was really, really good, and the fans out there were awesome. Also, for anyone who remembers that event, it was a really close one between me and PRod and it came down to me winning by like a tenth of a point on the last trick. That’s definitely one of the best wins of my career.
But we all always love X Games being in L.A. It’s basically my hometown and where I do all of my skating. It’d be cool to bring all of my friends out to a local X Games again so hopefully it goes back there one year.
What’s your relationship like with Paul Rodriguez, the incumbent street skate king?
NH: Me and PRod and really cool. Whenever we see each other, we always vibe. We shred together all the time. I think that’s one of the best things about skateboarding. We’re all competitors out there, but no one dislikes each other. We are all homies, one tight community of shredders. It’s tight. I’ve been watching him so long and learned so much from him over the years, it’s just awesome to be able to know him as I do now.