Year in Skateboarding: Young Talent Leads Elite Teams in 2018

The past decade has seen young talent rise to the top of the skateboarding scene, and 2018 was no different. Making skate films has never been as easy as it was last year, and up-and-coming companies took advantage, regularly showcasing brilliant skateboarding and building company clout on Youtube and Instagram. Industry giants like Element and Vans continue to produce quality content while leaving room for emerging companies like Pizza and Polar to shine.

As rails get longer, drops get higher, and ledge tricks become more technical, youngsters that we caught a glimpse of in 2017 proved that they are here to lead the next generation of skateboarding and hold the community accountable to the high standard that will define the next decade of skating. This is our selection of the top five films, individual skaters, parts, and teams of the year.

SHORT FILM OF THE YEAR

The world of skateboarding saw a large number of short length films appear this year from brands big and small, however, the lack of cross-country road trips and long parts did not stop companies from producing high-quality videos. Within the stack of strong films, these five montaged or parted videos from five talented companies rose to the top.

5. DC – Street Sweeper

Veteran shoe brand DC brought together a ton of great skaters and dropped a classic video in Street Sweeper on July 23. In the time where DC is reverting back to some retro shoe ideas, this 18-minute film features Josh Kalis, John Gardner, and John Shanahan alongside an older film style.

4. NHS – Please Don’t Grab My Boob!

Santa Cruz based skateboard distribution company NHS Fun Factory assembled an all-female roster and produced Please Don’t Grab My Boob! back on March 16. The roster includes All-Stars Lizzie Armanto, Nora Vasconcellos, Lacey Baker, and Allysha Le, along with young talents Nicole Hause and Brighton Zeuner.

3. Vans – Spinning Away

Newly minted pro Tyson Peterson, 2016 SOTY Kyle Walker, and Australian veteran Chima Ferguson each have their own full parts in this 20-minute video, which also features guest tricks from the stellar Vans team. Tyson’s relaxed style continues to make his skating enjoyable to watch, Chima is still hucking large gaps with the release of his new pro model shoe, and there isn’t a kinked rail that Kyle Walker can’t handle.

2. Pizza – Thaw and Order

Pizza Skateboards came out with Thaw and Order on April 10 starring Adam Taylor, Ducky Kovacs, Michael Pulizzi, Jesse Viera, and others. The 12-min film includes several supporting parts that solidify Pizza’s standing as a strong and up and coming brand, but it is ultimately Pulizzi’s rail heavy part that really shines through in this video.

1. Foundation – Souvenir

Foundation Skate Co. has been pumping out content left and right for the past few years, from their 2017 full-length video Oddity to an array of Corey Duffel footage, and Souvenir makes it even more obvious that this is a team of all-stars. From the aggressive music, shaky filming, and gnarly skating serving as the film’s introduction to the ambient music backing John Clemmons’ part, there is not a dull moment in this film.

Cory Glick’s balanced style makes the most of his talent, and you’ll see tricks ranging from big spins across gaps to rail combo-lines. After a groundbreaking summer on King of the Road, the Foundation continues to push their limits and creatively skate long rails and sketchy spots, while developing a team culture and family that will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

FULL-LENGTH FILM OF THE YEAR

With 30-second Instagram edits and short Youtube videos dominating our skateboarding consumption in the past few years, it might seem like the classic full-length format is disappearing. But this past year delivered an array of great full-length videos. From industry giants such as Element and Girl to smaller, up-and-coming brands such as Polar and Quasi, 2018 proved that the full-length video is here to stay. Here are our top picks:

5. Girl – Doll

Girl’s Doll dropped on October 22 to showcase the up and coming stars of skateboarding. Youngsters Tyler (“Manchild”) Pacheco, Simon Bannerot, and Niels Bennett all skated at an incredibly high level while legends Sean Malto, Andrew Brophy, Rick McCrank, Mike Mo Capaldi and others evened out the video and proved generational talent. Finally, Griffin Gass puts down a slamming part to cap off Girl’s first true film since Pretty Sweet Tour.

4. Nike SB – Nike SB Medley | Australia

A squad of unknown young Australians skaters shredding a variety of unknown Australian spots surprised the world with the incredible video that is Medley. The soundtrack and editing bring out the best of this squad’s skating. Attacking a monster kinked rail, Noah Nayef and Charles Robertson truly stand out, as does the creative and stylish skating of Baker am Hayley Wilson.

3. etnies – album

With album, etnies releases their first full-length video in over 10 years, and it was worth the wait. Consistent and minimalistic editing, drone shots, and 5 years of footage from all over the world made album a video to remember. Highlights include Chris Joslin’s 11-minute last part, Ryan Lay’s creativity, and some long-awaited Ryan Sheckler clips.

2. Polar – We blew it at some point

The Swedish company has put out its fair share of full-length videos in the past, but We blew it at some point got everything right. Divided into several faux-parts, Polar has made it easy to appreciate every skater’s part without ignoring the incredibly organic camaraderie their team shares. Nick Boserio, Emile Laurent, and Aaron Herrington highlight the video, while Oskar Rozenberg drops jaws with a massive 180 noseblunt.

1. Element – Peace: An Element Audiovisual Project

24-year old board company Element takes home best full-length film after dropping their first film in a while worldwide on October 16. Element performed incredibly all year long and anyone from new pros Tyson Peterson and Mason Silva to skateboarding greats Evan Smith and Nyjah Huston could have secured last part.

Ultimately, Mason was given the honors and he produced a fabulous two-song ending section for a great video. Smith also had a great two-song part that really solidified his place as a/the top skateboarder this year. New pro Tyson and am Nassim Guammaz each skated extremely well to highlight the depth and youthfulness of this company, and it was great to see veterans Brandon Westgate and Nick Garcia prove the decade-long top tier status of the brand.

PART OF THE YEAR

Outside of the team films this year, there are countless skateboarders that have the opportunity to produce their own individual high-quality video parts. Narrowing down these performances was extremely difficult, however, there were these final five videos that stood out not only for the quality of the skateboarding but also for the impact they have on the skater’s career.

5. Tanner van Vark – REAL Skateboards Presents: Tanner van Vark

21-year-old Tanner van Vark comes out strong with his first Real part, which dropped on Youtube in October. Like the rest of the Real team, Tanner impresses with technical tricks down sizable gaps and steep rails. Guest tricks from Ishod Wair and Kyle Walker are great additions to the video, but Tanner’s talent stands out in an era where we’re bombarded with skate media. Expect to see much more from him in the coming years.

4. Ishod Wair – Back On My BS

5 years removed from his SOTY award, Ishod Wair continues to tear up any terrain in sight. From tranny to gap skating, Ishod’s relaxed style and effortless precision cement his spot as one of the greatest skaters of this generation. Nike SB gave him a Blazer colorway, but he deserves his own pro model shoe – he’s the greatest athlete in the world and should be paid more than Steph Curry.

3. Nyjah Huston – Til Death

In addition to his Element part, Nyjah Huston spent months with Ty Evans working on the 10+ minute masterpiece that is Til Death. We see Nyjah take uncharacteristically gnarly slams and show us the persistence necessary to rise to the top of the skateboarding ranks. This part consists of unthinkable tricks down iconic spots, including a switch frontside feeble down the famous Hollywood High 16 stair and a switch lipslide down El Toro, not to mention how fearlessly Nyjah attacks every kinker in sight.

2. Franky Villani – Always On My Mind

Primitive Skateboarding made Franky Villani pro this year with the part Always On My Mind. The video is absolutely incredible and displays Villani’s ability to skate technically while still crushing big rails and stair sets. The part is full of massive flip tricks, technical footplants, and no-complies, as well as kickflips and big spins into and out of hard grinds and slides.

1. Zion Wright – Jupiter Rising  

Once again in 2018, Zion Wright is the most exciting individual in skateboarding. Zion manages to stay at the top of the game in hardcore skateboarding by putting down the biggest tricks on the largest rails and stair sets. Meanwhile, he also shreds tranny and has some of the gnarliest lines executed this year.

At just 19 years, Zion has risen to the top of the skateboarding world and has secured some of the strongest sponsors in REAL Skateboards, Nike SB, Thunder, and Spitfire. Jupiter Rising is one of the skateboarding parts that feels as if every other trick could be an ender and it gets more and more impressive every time it is watched. Zion has risen to be one of the most powerful skateboarders in the world and, in turn, has made his way to have the best part of this year.

TRICK OF THE YEAR

5. Enzo Cautela – 20-Stair Hardflip

Enzo’s signature hardflip down a 20-stair right before being announced pro for Enjoi

4. Pedro Delfino – Boardslide

Pedro rips a wild boardslide for the April Thrasher cover

3. Milton Martinez – Gap to Lip

Milton makes an insane gap to lipslide in March for Creature Skateboards

2. Chris Joslin – Backside 360 Flip

Joslin Backside 360 Flips a massive stair set in Cologne, Germany for his album ender

1. Corey Glick – Wallie Frontside 270 Noseblunt

Corey somehow sticks this Walle Frontside 270 Noseblunt for his Souvenir ender

PRO-MOTION OF THE YEAR

We saw a lot of young talent move up from Ametuer to pro status in 2017, and the trend did not slow up at all in 2018. So many exciting young skaters have made their way up to the top of their board sponsorships and the skateboarding community. These five are selected based on their performance this year, pro parts, and what their promotion means for their company.

5. Trevor McClung – Plan B

Trevor McClung was made pro for Plan B in March, joining an incredible roster of skateboarders on the pro team. McClung has been on Plan B since 2012 and his part in TRUE marked his spot amongst the top tier of the group. While his part in album wasn’t for Plan B, it showed the reasoning for his promotion.

4. Enzo Cautela – Enjoi

It’s about time. Enzo Cautela has been skating as an am for Enjoi since he was 14 years old, and with a 20-stair hardflip, he finally goes from Flow to pro. Although his large gap and stair skating stands out the most, Enzo doesn’t hold back from technical slides, grinds, and manual tricks. Joining the likes of Ben Raemers, Zack Wallin, and Samarria Brevard, Enzo is leading the next generation of Enjoi skaters.

3. Franky Villani – Primitive

As discussed earlier, Primitive Skateboarding turned Franky Villani pro with his insane part Always On My Mind on October 3 of this year. Villani has been skating for Primitive and it was time for him to make this move onto the elite squad. Primitive founder and pro skater Paul Rodriguez described him as the “quintessential modern skateboarder who could skate any spot.”

2. Tyson Peterson – Element

Tyson Peterson has been a highlight of skating since his performance in the 2017 Am Scramble video. He, along with almost everyone from that video, has turned pro since. Element is one of the best brands in the game and adding this young star to their pro list was a hugely positive move. His skating in Vans’ Spinning Away displayed his talent to the world and he was made pro just two months later in June.

1. Corey Glick – Foundation

Foundation came back from the dead in 2018. Their team is young, hungry, and ready to get buck. Stellar performances on King of the Road drew attention to youngsters Cole Wilson, Dakota Servold, and Aidan Campbell, but the real superstar riding for Foundation Skate Co. was Corey Glick.

His part in their short video Souvenir showcased Glick’s immense talent, and his ender is one of the craziest tricks we’ve seen all year. A former superpower in the 90’s, Foundation has been rebuilding their team over the past few years, and pro additions such as Glick show that they’re here to stay.

SKATER OF THE YEAR

Skater of the year is the most anticipated award for skateboarding every year, and unfortunately, Thrasher Magazine tends to do a poor job of selecting them. These five skaters all became the elites on the big level teams contributing to their dominance across the world. With talents young and old, these skaters stood out as the best of 2018.

5. Mason Silva

Power, speed, accuracy, and raw athleticism define Mason Silva’s skateboarding. Turning pro for Element this year and dropping a monster last part for their Peace video, in addition to a stellar performance on KOTR and his Former part on Youtube marked 2018 for Mason. Having recently announced his departure from Element, 2019 looks to be an exciting year for the 22-year old.

4. Tyshawn Jones

Thrasher Magazine selected 19-year-old Tyshawn Jones as the 2018 Skater of the Year after he gained massive popularity as the man with the best pop in the game. Fucking Awesome Skateboards skater TJ was pumping clips of himself flipping over trash cans and boardsliding 5-foot tractors. Supreme’s Blessed video dropped on November 23 and the skateboarding world was given a 4-song (ish) TJ part. The clips were incredible and brought TJ deep into this SOTY list.

3. Zion Wright

Young legend Zion Wright rose into the spot of top three skateboarders this year with two smacking parts and a great performance on King of the Road. Since the 2017 Am Scramble video Zion has been promoted to pro and shredding ever since. Zion is the type of skateboarder that can excel in all forms of skateboarding and there are many skaters that can’t do what Zion does in one area alone. It would not be surprising to see Zion top this list in the next few years.

2. Chris Joslin

Chris Joslin’s consistency and work ethic have made him one of the most impressive skateboarders of our generation. Winning Battle at the Berrics X and dropping his Ode to London part in 2017 made him a serious contender for SOTY, and he was even stronger in 2018. Known as a gap and stair skater, and this year showed the variety and precision that Joslin truly possesses.

From the massive backside flips and stair sets that highlighted his 11-minute album part to the flatground expertise that led him to a runner-up finish at BATB 11, 2018 marked a monumental year for the 21-year old. A celebratory pro-model shoe part and an etnies China tour video ended another stellar year for Chris Joslin.

1. Evan Smith

From dropping his insane Peace part to leading DC and Element to be top companies, goofy 27-year old skater Evan Smith has become a top name in all aspects of skateboarding. In the past few years, Evan has become a road trip and video part necessity for all of his sponsors, from Spitfire and Independent to DC and Element. This year, Evan continued to amaze the skateboarding world with his performance and leadership on King of the Road and his talent and versatility in his Element Peace part.

In addition, Evan has started his own skateboarding collective, No Hotels, and they put out videos in both January and December of this year. No offense to Tyshawn Jones, but Thrasher Magazine was completely off to not see Evan Smith as the highlight of skateboarding in 2018. Evan is undeniably one of the gnarliest skateboarders in the world and he will remain as one while his teams continue building under him and bringing him wherever they go.

TEAM OF THE YEAR

With the rise of strong shoe companies and countless young board brands, the dominance of teams has shone more bright than ever. A lot of great skateboarders have spread to the smaller entities, but the classic famous brands are still reigning as elites. The top five were easy to decide, but the ranking between them given the talent of their skaters was a task.

5. Cons

Converse has become one of the largest shoe brands in skateboarding and it seems that every video this year has had at least a few guys wearing One Stars or the Chuck Highs. Converse put out a solid video this year that highlighted veteran Kenny Anderson and current elites Louie Lopez, Mike Anderson, Bobby Dekeyzer, amongst others.

4. Real

Although their KOTR team was missing Ishod Wair and a few others, the Real squad showed up and delivered some of the most rad skating of the year. Fresh off his pro contract, Zion Wright continues to amaze the world with his versatility and power, while greats like Dennis Busenitz, Kyle Walker, and Chima Ferguson show us what the team is really about.

3. Nike

There isn’t a squad as elite as Nike SB. The swoosh is able to pick up the most talented skaters in the world, from BATB11 champion Luan Oliveira to Lacey Baker, their team ticks every box. A team full of SOTYs is hard to beat.

2. Vans

A team full of SOTYs may be hard to beat, but another team of SOTYs can do it. Chima Ferguson, Gilbert Crockett, Elijah Berle, Kyle Walker, and Rowan Zorilla all put out incredible footage this year, and that’s just scratching the surface of what this team is capable of. Vans has been a major player in the skate scene for over 50 years and it doesn’t seem like they’re going anywhere.

1. Element

Element Skateboards is currently the best skateboarding team in the world. With talent from young guys like Tyson Peterson and Nassim Guammaz alongside skateboarding elites Nyjah Huston and Evan Smith, there is no doubt that this team is deeply stacked. They proved their talent on King of the Road and they revalidated it when Peace dropped in October.

Outside of that, they made Tyson pro and Mason Silva was killing it for the brand as a true All Star. Element greats like Brandon Westgate and Nick Garcia are still shredding, and ams Chris Colbourn, Dominick Walker, Jaakko Ojanen, and Stella Reynolds show a bright future for the team.

Unfortunately, Mason has just announced his departure from Element, however, there is no reason for this classic brand’s ranking to drop in the future. Peace is still the best video of the year and Element is still the best team without him and his part.

2018 was an incredible year for skateboarding. Companies big and small displayed impressive skateboarders am & pro. It was the year for short videos and special individual parts, but we still got to see a number of high-quality full-length films.

Classic elite teams and skaters remained strong but several young stars went pro and exceeded expectations. Small teams and individual prowess are pushing the limits of skateboarding, and 2018 showed us that these youngsters are far from slowing down.

-Andrew Edds

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