Skateboarding 2013 -- the year in review
On New Year's Day 2013. Alien Workshop’s newest and tallest amateur, John Fitzgerald, dropped 3 1/2 minutes of knockdown, drag-out slugfest skateboarding, setting a precedent for the year to come. The 6=foot-6 Fitzgerald has an unapologetically gangly style with a trick selection that harks back to a more fun and unique time, and he hits the ground like a ton of bricks. With all the team departures that Alien would face in 2013, Big John made one hell of a stellar addition.
In January, Nike SB and Almost Skateboards pro Lewis Marnell, second from left, succumbed to complications from Type 1 diabetes. Marnell was diagnosed with diabetes at age 10 and was able to balance the condition alongside his skateboarding career, appearing in Nike SB videos such as "Nothing But The Truth" and "Nike SB Chronicles Volume 1." Almost paid tribute to Marnell with a memorial deck that benefited diabetes research. The deck featured a photo of Marnell riding a bicycle and read "Never Forgotten."
Professional skateboarders Anthony Van Engelen and Jason Dill set off an industry-wide domino effect of professionals quitting their sponsors and starting their own board brands with their abrupt departure from their longtime board sponsor, Alien Workshop. The dynamic duo have recently begun making decks under Jason Dill's longtime F---ing Awesome clothing imprint, following the legendary brand Supreme's blueprint for small, limited and exclusive runs sold only at select skate shops. As expected, the brand was an instant hit.
Soon after Van Engelen and Dill announced they were leaving Alien Workshop, the most well-known openly tall skateboarder, Brian Anderson, parted ways with previous sponsor Girl Skateboards, to try something new. Partnering with ex-Habitat team rider Austyn Gillette, Anderson's 3D Skateboards is a collection of products that reflect Anderson's visual aesthetic and sense of humor. Keeping it all in the family, 3D Skateboards are distributed by Anderson's old roommate and friend, skateboarder Brad Staba, and Big Time Distribution. As Anderson hinted at in his exclusive ESPN Face Time interview, 2014 promises to add a few new faces to the 3D fold.
When we say skateboarding was taken to new heights in 2013, it's not a figure of speech -- Flip pro and de facto X Games Big Air legend Bob Burnquist took to the sky in a helicopter in his stuntman skate part for Oakley this summer. And if Burnquist attacked skating by air, then Nyjah Huston must be credited for leading the assault by land with his Thanksgiving handrail assault for DC Shoes. For as much as we have seen a return to bowl and bank skating in 2013, Bob and Nyjah are making sure that skating continues to progress in new directions.
On June 21, 2013, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., held an event dubbed Innoskate to coincide with skateboarding's favorite summer holiday, Go Skateboarding Day. Throughout the day, several panels were held, including one on innovation in skateboarding tricks with speakers Tony Hawk, left, and Rodney Mullen, right, as well as Innovation in skateboard technology with Paul Schmidt. Several of skateboarding's most legendary pros donated items to be put on permanent display, including Tony Hawk's first skateboard. To cap off the day there was a mini-ramp demo outside the museum with Kyle Berard and Chris Haslam.
Skateboarding has long enjoyed a healthy relationship with comedic outputs, starting with Tony Hawk and select members of the Bones Brigade stunt doubling in an early "Police Academy" movie in the mid '80s and continuing with clips of Dave Chappelle skating at Rye Airfield skatepark in New Hampshire. But in 2013, skateboarding hit comedic royalty when it arose as a subject of conversation between Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. In Seinfeld's web series, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," Seinfeld employed the humor of Chris Rock to discuss skateboarding. "I'll tell you what, to learn to do a skateboard trick, and how many times you've gotta get something wrong before you get it right, and you hurt yourself ... now you've got a life lesson," said Seinfeld during the interaction. That's gold, Jerry, gold!
Getting a pro board in 2013 was as simple as picking a name, paying the money to get the minimums made and selling them to your local shop. Getting a shoe with your name on it? Now that is a whole different ballgame. While most companies are now offering signature color ways, Vans decided to give one of Australia's finest, Chima Ferguson, his very own shoe. With his last part being in Real's 2011 video "Since Day One," this shoe should be foreshadowing for his up-and-coming Vans video part. Ferguson's signature shoe is the first new signature shoe Vans has offered in more than five years.
Chocolate seems to prefer to do things in groups. It goes on tours with sister company Girl Skateboards (pun intended) and they put out videos together. After the release of their joint video "Pretty Sweet" at the end of 2012, we knew it was only a matter of time before some of those up-and-coming amateurs turned pro. So rather than do it one at a time, Chocolate gave the whole Trunk Boyz crew boards all at once. With Stevie Perez, Elijah Berle and Raven Tershey (pictured here) joining the big leagues, it leaves Chocolate Skateboards with an all-professional team going into 2014.
Growing up in skateboarding's limelight can be a gift and a curse. On the one hand, it gives you plenty of time to become a household name. On the other, you're given plenty of time to blow it. Luckily for Flips' Louie Lopez (pictured here) and Curren Caples, they stayed on the straight and narrow and have continued to grow as skateboarders, both literally and figuratively. After killing amateur contests galore, they were given the nod up to compete against skateboarding's greats as professionals. Since neither of them released a video part in 2013, it would be safe to assume that the next year will hold some excellent footage from these two young men.
It is somewhat of an understatement to say that 2013 was chock-full of video parts. With a new part coming out almost every single week, it was easy to get lost in the sea of shredding. But there were a number that left a mark. For Thrasher, though, video is only part of what makes someone a candidate for its coveted Skater of the Year award. With heavy parts and interviews in the mag to boot, it came down to three contenders: Nyjah Huston, Brandon Westgate (pictured here) and Ishod Wair. While the message boards and social media channels were filled with opinions, the overlords at Thrasher reached a decision. On Dec. 8, it was announced that Ishod Wair, who released not one, not two, but four video parts this year, was this year's king.
One day before X Games Los Angeles, Paul Rodriguez announced that he was parting ways with longtime board sponsor Plan B Skateboards to start his own board brand. Rodriguez stated that he "wanted to take more ownership" of his career when the split was announced, and skated a blank deck at X Games L.A. In late November, Rodriguez announced via his website that he was selling 500 limited-edition, hand-signed and numbered Paul Rodriguez gold 8-inch decks. The boards sold out in six minutes. To date, no name for P-Rod's brand has been announced. And his Plan B video footage remains unseen.
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