Skateboarding is a sport that always has fresh faces breaking into the scene. With so many young new faces, there is always room for innovation and the creativity is endless. The risk takers and thrill seekers are constantly setting new standards, and while it is still a male dominated sport, woman and girls are edging in with impressive feats – like the youngest skater to win an X Games medal at age 12, Alana Smith. ESPN announced its top 10 influencers in the skate world of at the start of 2013.
These guys made the list:
- Jonathan Mehring. Mehring is the king of adventure skating. Making for remarkable photos, he has skated some of the most remote and geographically interesting terrains like the Amazon River and mountain roads of Kazakhstan.
- Justin Figueroa. Topping Thrasher magazine for 2012, Figueroa, also known as Figgy, is a fearless fast skater.
- Grant Taylor. Taylor is the son of former pro Thomas Taylor, so you know he has it in his blood. He took the Thrasher Magazine Skater of the Year award in 2011 and is leading his generation in skill.
- Njyah Huston. A Street League Skate champion, as of May 2013 Huston has won more prize money in competitions than any other skater to date.
- Dylan Rieder. Rieder is starting to become the poster boy for skating. His talent and style set him apart and has gotten a lot of attention through riding for Rob Dyrdek’s Alien Workshop.
- Ty Evans. One of the most epic skate filmmakers, Evans has even worked with Spike Jonze. He also lays claim to the best selling skate video of all time: “Pretty Sweet” for Girl and Chocolate.
- Steve Berra. Skater Berra teamed up with Eric Koston to created The Berrics, a site devoted to the latest trends and happenings in the skate world.
- Patrick O’Dell. Skate photographer O’Dell featured his video documentaries on VICE and garnered a lot of attention. The documentary “Epicly Later’d” showcased the inside life of the teenage skate superstars. O’Dell gives insiders and outsider an equally authentic look into the skate world through his lens.
- Austyn Gillette. One of the newer faces on the scene (he went pro in 2011), Gillette is recognized for his innovative tricks that always keep people guessing.
- Guy Mariano. While Mariano isn’t on the board as much as he was in the 1990s, he left a big impact with his skate videos and impressive skate style.
Longboarding has become increasingly popular in the past few years. The casual board is an accessible way for novice skaters to get in on the fun. Because longboards have a larger surface, they are much easier to balance on and riders typically don’t use them for kick flips and tricks. Longboarding has become just as much a means of transportation as it is a hobby. But where did it all begin?
While longboarding isn’t a far cry from skateboarding, its innovation differs slightly. It was avid surfers, rather than avid skaters, that conjured up the longboard to occupy their time off the water. The longboard is more comparable to surfing with the precise gentle carving and turns. Surfers were not as interested in the tricks and speed that traditional skateboards offered.
It is said that in the 1960s Makaha and Hobie (two skate and surf shops) began to produce the first longboards inspired by the waves of the ocean. As more and more surfers began to pick up longboarding in their spare time, the boards were honed. The clay wheels of the first models were not the best for maneuverability and speed, so the availability of urethane wheels was a welcome innovation. The increased traction meant better control, allowing riders to step up their rides.
The longboards of today benefit from improved technology and materials. The similarities between longboarding and water sports don’t stop at surfing. Some longboarders use a land paddle similar to stand-up paddle boarding on the water, which the Hawaiian surfers created. The paddle, or stick, is used for propelling the rider forward and balancing while turning. The next step in longboarding is unknown but with the increase of interest in the sport, riders are sure to find tweaks and innovations that will make the sport even more accessible.
The Games took place Aug. 15 through 25, but faced unfavorable weather conditions, which tested everyone’s snowboard gear, and an injury to one of the top U.S. riders, Shaun White. The Games included a full festival atmosphere with films, live music and entertainment in Queenstown and Lake Wanaka.
The ladies’ slopestyle event placed Jamie Anderson from the U.S. at the number one spot. The next U.S. female rider, Karly Shorr, placed ninth. The ladies halfpipe event was better for the U.S.; Kelly Clark took the top spot while Gretchen Bleiler took third, and high school sophomore, Arielle Gold, took the number nine spot. The Japanese boarder, Ayumu Hirano, was another favorite, landing some of the biggest jumps ever seen in Cardrona’s halfpipe and taking home the number one spot in halfpipe. This was his first World Cup, and Hirano still needs to show what he’s made of to make the Japanese team, but there is little doubt that he will.
The New Zealand Winter Games were just one of the World Cup competitions that will allow riders to qualify for the Olympic Games. Olympic hopefuls will have to receive the appropriate FIS points to be eligible. Although all riders had their eyes on the prize, they took time off their boards as well. The boarders took to a grassier course after the competition to play a round of golf in Central Otago in the scenic New Zealand backdrop.