Julian Christianson won his fourth Hometown Heroes Amateur Skateboard Steet championships on Sunday on the final day of X Games 17, competing on the same course Nyjah Huston dominated in Saturday's Skateboard Street finals.
"There are too many good people," Christianson said. "I think that, of those guys in the final, if all of them had landed their whole runs the judges wouldn't have been able to pick a winner. Everyone has different styles so it's hard to judge that way in skateboarding."
Christianson won the opportunity to compete again this year after winning the Hometown Heroes stop on his home turf at Colorado's Denver Skatepark in June and was the top qualifier in Sunday's elimination round, advancing to round one of the 10-man semi-finals. He then made the cut for the five-man finals in second place behind Brendon Villanueva.
They were joined by Dan Coe, Tyson Bowerbank, and Ryan Thompson, but it turned into a head-to-head battle between Christianson and Villanueva, swapping the top spot back and forth over throughout the 18-minute best-run-wins session: Villanueva was dropping backside tailslide to bigspins, kickflip frontside boardslides, and kickflip backside tailslides. Christianson answered with a switch tailslide to fakie on the big rail, nollie frontside noseslide, tailslide to fakie on the hubba ledge, and a huge switch 180 off the bank and over the rail by the steampipe wall.
Christianson trailed Villanueva heading into the final minutes with one run remaining, then dropped his biggest trick of the day -- a huge switch heelflip down the big stair set -- to push his score to 88.33 and take the win.
"The security guard over there on the roof said, 'Try to land it.' I said, 'I'm not gonna try. I'm gonna do it.' And I'm glad I said that and I'm glad I landed it," said Christianson.
Final score: Christianson 88.33, Villanueva 86.66, Coe 80.00.
Christianson's been having a big year: Last month he also won Element Skateboards' Make It Count finals, becoming Element's newest flow team member, and earlier this month he won the Denver stop of the Maloof Road Tour. Christianson says he looks forward to the day when all the work he's been putting in leads him to an X Games Skateboard Street final with the pros.
"These are the pros of tomorrow," said event emcee Dave Duncan. Well, if not tomorrow than perhaps next year: Several of this year's X Games pros -- including Chaz Ortiz and Sean Malto -- first came up through the Hometown Heroes circuit.
"It's the eight year of our grassroots nationwide amateur tour and our third year having the finals at X Games," says Hometown Heroes spokesman Shak Wazir. "This year we had 41 stops over three months at skate parks across country. Every year we do it the turnout gets bigger, the talent level gets better and better, and skateboarding in general keeps progressing at a crazy rate."