Yuto Horigome Wins First-Ever Olympic Street Skateboarding Gold Medal; Nyjah Huston Finishes Off Podium
Skateboarding is officially a medal event in the Olympics, and Japan’s own Yuto Horigome won the sport’s first-ever gold in the men’s street skateboarding final on Saturday night stateside.
Much of the world was introduced to skateboarding for the first time watching the broadcast at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. The men’s street skateboarding final was the first of four Olympic skateboarding events during the Tokyo Games; the women’s final will follow Sunday night in the U.S., and the women’s and men’s park disciplines will be held August 3 and 4, respectively.
Horigome, who was ranked No. 2 in the world behind American Nyjah Huston heading into the Olympics, easily advanced to the final on Saturday. However, things initially looked dicey for the 22-year-old; after the skaters had taken their two 45-second runs, Horigome, who had fallen on both, was positioned off the podium entering the best trick portion of the competition, behind Brazil’s Kelvin Hoefler and the United States’ Jagger Eaton and Nyjah Huston.
The street skateboarding final uses a 2-5-4 format; two 45-second runs followed by five attempts at a best trick, with the top four scores counted. Horigome, who makes his highly technical tricks look almost effortless, came roaring back to stomp four of his five tricks, and the judges rewarded him with the competitions’ highest score of 9.50 for an expertly executed nollie 270 nosegrind.
It was enough to propel him to a top-place finish on the podium. Hoefler earned silver and Eaton, bronze.
The biggest shock of the day was that world No. 1 Huston finished off the podium. But Huston made it clear from the jump that he wasn’t going to attempt safety runs, instead going all-in on every attempt. But three consecutive falls essentially sealed his fate.
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Heading into these Games, Horigome and Huston were the faces of Olympic men’s street skateboarding. Sure, the fact that they were No. 2 and No. 1 in the world, respectively, played a large part. In the final U.S. Olympic skateboarding qualifying event at Dew Tour in May, Huston won gold and Horigome, silver.
But Horigome is the hometown hero; he won his Olympic gold in his home district of Kōtō.
Huston, on the other hand, is the world’s highest-paid skateboarder and almost certainly its most well known outside of Tony Hawk. In the weeks leading up to the Games, Huston left longtime board sponsor Element to launch his own company, Disorder; his decks sold out within two hours of their launch.
It was a bit of cognitive dissonance that the face of skateboarding in the media didn’t receive a medal at the sport’s Olympic debut, but you have to respect how Huston went down swinging, staying true to the essence of the sport to the very end.
The women’s street skaters will take the stage Sunday night in the U.S. for their prelims and final. The women to keep an eye on are Brazil’s Pamela Rosa (No. 1 in the world), Rayssa Leal (No. 2) and Leticia Bufoni; Japan’s Aori Nishimura and the United States’ Mariah Duran.