As contest grow, amass greater cash purses and consolidate power, Thrasher’s ‘Skater of the Year’ has come to command a late-year rush of award-season bait generally angled toward capturing the short-pantsed golden bro with the Lego-man cap on. The phenomenon has birthed horrific mutations and eddies in the space-time continuum, such as making the front half of the year sleepier than it might otherwise have been video-wise and flummoxing innocent blog websites that generally speaking might boast somewhat better SOTY oddsmaking without having to account for an early-December crush of Phelps-baiting footage arising out of nowhere. Nevertheless:
David Gravette A scrappy journeyman working in the medium of hairy 50-50s, Creature’s golden child is the onliest 2013 candidate whose resume totes a Thrasher-themed facial tattoo. Amongst all the ditches, bars and his not-quite-a-flyout backflip, Gravette demanded a cover photo and received it, though similar to the initial landing on his round-the-horn rail ride in this year’s CSFU part, Gravette’s bid is solid but may suffer from bad timing, its arrival earlier in the year having been obscured by any number of team-jumps, jailings, gay-rights ruminations and related chatterboxing.
Nyjah Huston: His contest-circuit profile and ability to consistently stretch handrail tricks down an additional few stairs each year have made Nyjah Huston a perennial candidate lately, and similar to Ryan Sheckler, he seems to have preemptively cleared a spot in his trophy room for the Thrasher award, so far to no avail. He has offered up to the mag some kinked-bar prowess and a politically incorrect comment that may otherwise have played well to a wizard-staffed campfire, but the ensuing press-release apology and tearful track record when a gold medal eludes him may make SOTY a long shot.
Bob Burnquist’s helicopter: Never has a helicopter so boldly staked a claim to an award that otherwise has purely been the affectation of human beings, yet as digital technology advances and extreme athletes continue to achieve on stronger and deeper stages, machinery has played an ever-larger role, be it lasering substandard eyeballs, defending against rogue-state missile launches or ferrying Danny Way back to his next MegaRampTM run. It’s difficult to argue against Bob Burnquist’s helicopter as the most-extreme propeller-driven aircraft of modern times, though Thrasher underbosses may look askance at an all-park part.
Clint Walker: Like a bearded young demon conjured by blaspheming worshippers of Heath Kirchart’s career, the long-simmering Clint Walker boiled over last spring in Ambig’s ‘Modern Art’ video. Clint Walker did a truly gnarly crooked grind revert and in addition to all those damn-the-wobbles ending tricks managed that rare feat of the YouTube age, forcing rewinds after a vertigo-inducing miss on an otherwise unassuming nollie heelflip. The knock against Clint Walker would be that he’s too new, but few have chomped as hard as he this year.
Brandon Westgate: New England’s famed cranberry boggart recorded some of the year’s heaviest tricks, some flung down San Francisco hills, others up from handicap ramps, and one across a massive loading dock that looked roughly on par with the size of Brandon Westgate’s quiet and domesticated family home. Should Brandon Westgate, an accomplished tiler and this world wide web log’s odds-on favorite for the award, somehow dodge it this year, he seems assured that little-loved consolation prize which is to be attached to perpetual message-board grumblings also concerning Dennis Busenitz and Guy Mariano in the could’ve/should’ve SOTY sphere.
Bronze Hardware: With impeccable taste since the start, Bronze’s mastery of its particular/singular domain and subject matter have become harder to ignore with each passing year, braiding together a thick and lustrous twine of classic tricks, foreboding soundscapes and ‘found recordings’ into this year’s ‘Solo Jazz’ offering. Bronze Hardware’s prowess and promiscuity have engendered anger and half-mumbled threats from adversaries, which may for Thrasher staffers pose questions of peacekeeping and insurance liabilities for any SOTY event in which Bronze Hardware is named the ultimate winner.
Ben Rayborne: a grimy, bespectacled veteran of patchy backyard ramps and full pipes, who introduced the industry to the phrase “horse pool” and as much as anybody else in the running this year is of the Thrasher mold. Ben Raybourne skates giant sewers in the dark, threatens weak amphibians, rides ceilings where others may settle for the wall and fence-jams at Burnside, pumping out an array of footage this year that did include the obligatory Thrasher part. He also boasts the distinction of having some of his tricks translated into Lego formats.
Ishod Wair VX’ed footage of nighttime Love Park lines soundtracked to Raekwon in 2013 qualifies as certified blog fodder and must be treated as such. Nevertheless, it’s difficult not to rate Ishod’s real-streetness after two parts worth of “Photosynthesis”-mining grit over the last year that also did include some Juicy J and multiple trips down the fountain gap. It’s a good look for Ishod Wair, whose skills never have been in doubt but whose “Since Day One” section spoke more toward the type of SoCal one-hitters that many a Street League jockey could have formulated. A lengthy interview in Thrasher, Deluxe affiliation and the promise of another possible part by year’s end further bolster his candidacy.
Jim Greco: Worse than a gruesome death or a quiet fade from the scene for Jim Greco would be damnation by being decreed ‘boring,’ and so in 2013 Greco challenges conventional norms and mores by embracing concepts like darkslides and Wrangler pants. Tangling with cars, dumpsters, hydrants and fearsome embankments, Greco pulled out a Slayer tape and most all the stops for his “Deathwish” video appearance and, seeming to grasp the spell Rodney Mullen commands over U.S. tweens, potentially extended his career another five years easy as he dares to navigate the turbulent waters of pants and sunglasses sponsorships.