Out Of The Shadows, Jagger Eaton Is Team USA’s First Skateboarding Medalist
by Steve Drumwright
Jagger Eaton celebrates on the podium during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo.
Jagger Eaton has been living in a large shadow on the men’s street skateboarding circuit. Now, Eaton has a historic claim to fame: He is the first American to win an Olympic skateboarding medal.
The 20-year-old from Mesa, Arizona, finished third Sunday at the Tokyo Olympics — where skateboarding is making its debut — in the men’s street final, the first event of this discipline, at Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo.
Japan’s Yuto Horigome, the reigning world champion, earned his country’s third gold medal of these Olympics with a score of 37.18. Brazil’s Kelvin Hoefler won the silver with 36.15 and Eaton the bronze at 35.35. Eaton was coming off a fourth-place finish at this year’s world championships.
Nyjah Huston, a 26-year-old Californian who entered the Olympics as the favorite, finished seventh with 26.10. A six-time world champion and 10-time X Games champ, Huston misfired on his final four tricks in the “best trick” portion of the contest.
The two Americans qualified for the final in fine form, with Eaton dominating his heat and earning the No. 2 slot and Huston one spot behind him.
After the two 45-second runs under the hot early-afternoon sun in the finals, Eaton was second and Huston third, increasing the hopes of both Americans medaling. The competition then moved to the best trick, where each rider got five attempts. Of their seven runs, the best four count toward the final scores.
Huston got a 9.09 for his first trick, while Eaton took a zero. From there, their fortunes reversed. While Huston didn’t complete another trick, Eaton put himself in line for a medal when he scored an 8.70 on his second trick and a 9.40 on his third, the second-highest score of the day. Eaton didn’t land either of his last two tricks.
Possibly feeling the pressure of needing a big score, seven of the eight competitors took zeroes on their second tricks, with only Eaton not falling.
After missing his second to last trick, Huston let out an audible groan before saluting the small but enthusiastic crowd of officials in the venue. Among those in attendance Sunday was skateboard legend Tony Hawk.
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit TeamUSA.org/Tokyo2020 to view the medal table, results and competition schedule.