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The Street League course features giant concrete ledges, long metal hand rails and, of course, a giant set of stairs. It's a three-round competition with two eliminations in each of the first two rounds. The final six battle it out in a best-of-seven-tricks final round.
Malto survives to the last round, leading the pack with 36.9 points. He's wearing Chiefs colors: a red T-shirt with "Escapist" and "KC" in yellow letters. His six consecutive tricks have made him the day's most consistent skateboarder, but it's tight. Scruffy-looking Californian Chris Cole, whose bandaged hand might be broken, is right behind Malto, with 35.9 points. And Huston is still dangerous with 27.8 points. Each is seven tricks from being champion.
Cole and Huston keep chasing big tricks and bigger rewards down the stretch. Malto sticks with moves calculated to rack up points on the scoreboard.
Cole grabs a 9.2 and a 7.4 by spinning and grinding down the rails and ledges, raising the pressure on Malto. He steps up with a nollie nose grind down a ledge: 7.6.
Huston also takes risks, popping off the stairs and spinning toward the long yellow rail, landing his board on it. With amazing balance, he grinds down to score an 8.5 and stay alive.
Malto, calm and focused, hits another nollie nose grind down the ledge for 8 points and a hold on the lead.
Huston thumbs his nose at gravity again, flipping his board and landing it on the rail, then sliding down and rolling off for 9.4 points. Now he's in second place.
Cole's risks backfire, and he has to bail, but Malto stays steady. An overcrook grind down the center rail is good for 7.3 points, pushing his total to 72.1.
Huston answers with more highlight-reel moves, flipping and landing on his board off the big bank of stairs for 8.2 points.
Cole, back from the dead, hits a huge 360-flip 50-50 for a 9.6, the day's best move. With one trick left to go, he's in second place again with 71 points.
Malto, unfazed, nails a frontside crook and locks it in so perfectly, before flipping out at the end for a 7.7.
"It is Sean Malto's event to lose," an announcer says.
Huston hits another big 270, flipping the board and sliding down the middle rail. The 9.0 isn't enough.
The championship is now down to Malto and Cole, and Malto hugs and high-fives the man standing between him and $200,000. He cheers for Cole as his competitor takes off for his final trick — one that he fails to make. Malto wins.
To get to this moment, which he greets with a look of disbelief, Malto has strung together 13 consecutive tricks without bailing. Rob Dyrdek, the skateboard champion behind the Street League tour, asks Malto in an interview afterward if he was nervous.
"Yeah, the whole contest," Malto says. He turns humble again. "Cole kept going, and I just wanted to nip at his heels, and it somehow worked out, even though these guys are the best."
Today, he's the best, with the $200,000 oversized novelty check (handed over by three Monster Energy Drink cheerleaders), the Nixon watch ("Iced out!" Dyrdek says), the championship ring and the trophy to prove it.
The victory party doesn't last long. On Monday, Malto boards a plane for Europe to do that shoot for Etnies. More travel and then more travel after that. He'll try to keep it going as long as he can. Whatever happens, however long it lasts, Malto will come home to Kansas City.