Early and often
Dubious nomination process, predetermined winners and your vote doesn’t mean shit – sound familiar? It’s Skater of the Year season, and while you can spam Thrasher’s inbox with all the Busenitz ballots you want, but he’s not gonna win, and chances are Phelps already has a name rattling around his spectacled skull, sans any cares for what the rest of us think.
But for better or worse SOTY remains the only skateboard honor that means anything, and the winners, even those that hadn’t already bondo’ed their legend status, have proved the High Speed honchos prescient in the end. So pardon me while I throw out some wild guesses as to who’s in the running this year.
Silas Baxter Neal: An ad in every magazine and a video part for every finger on your hand over the last couple years. He’s a Thrasher cover-getting SF local with Pacific Northwest roots who made his big video debut in Rocket Science a few years back, but even though SBN is one of the steadily declining number of newly minted pros-cum-amateurs who can count his dues paid in full, career-wise, if he won he’d be greener than BA when he got Pen-and-Pixeled for the 1999 SOTY throne.
Billy Marks: Phelps has long been a Zero fan and has teased poor Billy with the SOTY/Tech Deck ad conundrum for years, and if Marks ever were to have a shot at it, this would be the year I guess. He has a big video part and a big Thrasher interview going for him, but other than that he’s been kind of quiet, unless you count the ping-pong videos. Plus if he won he’d have to produce another 10 pages of photos for the issue and he seems like a hopelessly lazy dude, ping-pong prowess notwithstanding.
Bobby Worrest: He skates for Deluxe companies, drinks shitty beer, has churned out boatloads of footage these last couple years and seems to possess a Thrasher-approved “who cares” attitude, as well as a sense of humor. On the other hand, like SBN his professional career is none too long in the tooth, and unless you count all his internet antics (which I certainly do) he hasn’t put out a legit part this year.
Guy Mariano: Thrasher likes to give SOTY to longtime legends recently (Daewon, Marc Johnson, Danny Way again) and Mariano is pretty much about as legend as they come, except perhaps for John Legend, or Robert Neville. He sets the high bar for street skating video parts and then comes back a decade later and does the same shit for comebacks, what the fuck? On the downside, aside from some of the first Flared-era photos, not much of his recent coverage has made it into Thrasher, and possibly worse for his SOTY candidacy, a lot of said coverage has been in TWS.
Rune Glifberg: This year’s dark horse candidate – representing one of the more SOTY-heavy squads at Flip and an old-guard transition titan who so far has avoided tarring himself with the X-Games brush, Rune turned in probably one of the best profiles of the year to date a few months ago in Thrasher. While Dyrdek’s UAV will turn into a pumpkin before the Flip video comes out this year Phelps has proven more than willing to hand out preemptive SOTY awards like so many Tomahawk cruise missles, as Rowley and Appleyard can attest.
Lizard King: I get the feeling the Thrasher bosses have a deep and abiding love for Michael Plumb, but a helping of hairball photos and a side-order video part (even if it is set to Killa) do not an SOTY make.
Ryan Sheckler: As much as nobody wants to think about it, I have a sad feeling that this is a real possibility, as Phelps’ determination to prove his don’t-give-a-fuckness combined with Sheckler’s boring win at the Thrasher handrail contest and the prospect of selling a metric ton of magazines are very real factors. I’d like to think that Ballard would tender his resignation should this event come to pass, and Thrasher has taken the occasional swipe at the golden boy from San Clemente, but Phelps’ recent comments that Sheckler is in the running haunt me in the wee hours of the night, even if he was joking. Not funny.
Vote for Barack Obama next week.