Saturday, November 2, 2013

SOTY 2013 Contender #1: Mark Suciu

Mark Suciu has been on an absolute tear this past year. The amount of footage that came out for Mark right as spring rolled around for 2013 was unheard of, especially because it was all quality footage we've now come to expect out of Mark. It's crazy to think that Mark's studying now at Temple University (just another reason why he's one of the best all around dudes in skateboarding) and still technically has his first professional part for Habitat coming out at the end of this year in Search the Horizon. I don't know Thrasher's requirements for SOTY and if the guy has to have been pro all year long, but I really don't care when a guy like Mark comes out with this much terrific skating.
The term "footage machine" is often thrown around in conversations about Mark. His style and trick selection (from quick-footedness to very-well-thought-out lines) combine to form one of the most aesthetically pleasing skaters to watch, and it just so happens that Mark's spot selection is heavily Philly-based, which is yet another plus. There seem to be just too many reasons to like him. Anyway, let's take a look at exactly how many parts, clips, and just overall awesome footage he's put out:

Though technically released at the end of 2012, Mark's part in Sabotage 3 as well as the Skateboard Mag's YBAM remix of the part were not released for most of the public to see until 2013, so I think the part can definitely contribute to Mark's run for SOTY 2013. I may not have the best knowledge of watching skateboarding during the prime LOVE park era, but the original Sabotage part still seems to give me a feeling of nostalgia from those same Philly vibes: skating at night through the streets, great sessions at LOVE park, etc. Not only that, but this part actually shows quite a few different sides of Mark that I haven't seen before, sustaining my thought that he can seriously do anything he wants. Everyone knows of his insane board control like the narrow tre flip horizontally down a stair in the line at 1:02, holding out the back noseblunt at 2:05, or the precise nosegrind pop out at 2:44, but seeing him get as gnarly as some of the heavy rail skaters at 2:10 with the kinky rail drop down or flip trick tech with his back tail big heel at 3:17 is quite invigorating, which is weird to say considering that Mark's skating in general is full of surprises. His freak out at 3:10 is also interesting to see because now we know he has his moments too just like the rest of us.
The first song ends with the line at 3:25, showing Mark's quick footed combos, some night skating in the streets, and then a surprisingly beautiful switch hardflip (again, I don't think I've ever seen him do that before!) followed up by a fade away downhill switch 180 and ollie into the next song. From this point on, every single clip is worth a short sentence of admiration, but to keep things moving on to the next one, on to the next one, I'll just shoutout his LOVE line at 4:38 with a nollie frontside flip up into a quick switch backside flip up that had me burst out giggling from happiness, and the HUGE ollie over the giant planter in the line at 3:57 where his pushes alone get you amped up.
The Skateboard Mag's remix to Mark's Sabotage 3 part is a very well-edited piece with a good amount of clips not in the original part, such as a massive switch 50-50 down a hubba at 1:05.

Even after his heavily Philly-based part, Mark still had plenty of clips (probably enough for another full part to be honest) for the great piece by Chris Mulhern: The Philadelphia Experiment. The push after the sick wallride at 2:06 seemed way to tight to squeeze in that space but Mark somehow manages to pull out a frontside flip after it. The lines at 2:24 and 3:40 both feel like for any typical skater they would end after the first few tricks, but Mark keeps them going with some nifty torqued-up additions. You can clearly see Mark's precision control and total awareness of his board positioning with the clip at 2:41. Later on at 8:41 he back 180s over an old railing right into a quick frontside half cab down some stairs, but I'd rather leave his shoulders to tell the story on this one. He also has a very speedy line at 9:12 mixing a long grind with a quick tech tapper and some nicely controlled 180s too.

Apparently Mark hasn't spent all of his time in Philly, but stacked some more clips in the SF Bay Area for Tunnel Vision, a sweet piece by Justin Albert. Mark essentially takes over the video at 3:07 with more of his great precise skating; this video feature in particular brings out Mark's very smooth style I'd say. The line at 3:50 looks great because Mark is flying through every trick but maintaining full control the whole time. It's followed by 3 rad out-ledge tricks at 4:05 that a lot of guys probably can't do like that.

Moving on, Mark then came out with his first full introduction to Adidas (after being officially introduced with a few bangin tricks in New York City) with basically a full part of skating around Philadelphia (featured above). The first two lines are great because they show Mark's consistency and creativity in two different settings: from the plaza to the actual street. 1:17 has what I believe now Mark coined from his Sabotage part as the "Hopkins Grind", but the nollie version. The line at 1:40 really impresses me because a fakie nosegrind down a handrail and then a switch tre down a set both feel like really solid tricks individually, yet Mark can do them back to back flawlessly. At 2:07, Mark seems to float a backside flip a lot further than anticipated and follows that in the next clip by putting in his two cents for the 50-50 gap 50-50 craze we've seen this year. The line at 3:07 starts off with a smooth kickflip nosegrind but then demonstrates Mark's pop going over a trash can to a ledge only to 360 flip over the next. And lastly, the 50-50 gap out over the rail at 3:27 and the narrow ledge ride to long back lip at 3:40 were nice because of how Mark is able to skate one spot rather differently for two totally awesome tricks. The whole part really shows a wide variety of everything, from different spots to loads of different tricks, but one constant is that Mark's style exudes comfort with handling any spot or trick.

Though this was the bulk of the Suciu footage from this year, he also came out with a killer Run N' Gun style line for his Real Street part, taking an approach never done before for the contest. Mark also had some nice clips in a tour vid called Columns and Cobblestones capturing his Atlas Skateshop crew skating through London. The fakie front crooks through the tight curve at 2:28 was quite cool. Also on tour in Madrid with the usual great edit from Adidas, Mark gathered some clips along with the stacked Adidas crew. There's no doubt he had plenty of great tricks in this video but my personal favorite was the frontside half cab over the rail the hard way at 1:52 because of how after popping fakie, he made it look like a switch back 180. Mark also had some fun clips in another Atlas team edit called Summer Downtime.

If all this still isn't enough to put Mark in SOTY contention, then just wait until Search the Horizon drops.

(Though this post is coming late, I felt the need to properly go through as much of Mark's footage from the past year as I could because he is definitely my top pick for SOTY as of now.)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

SOTY 2013 Contender #2: Brandon Westgate

Brandon Westgate's part in Emerica's MADE Chapter One was unbelievable to say the least. Everything about the part was perfect, the kind of high quality skating you'd expect from the Emericans and the kind that deserves SOTY. There is no one with the same rugged, fast, and powerful style like Brandon has, or anyone that can skate the same spots he does. Words don't do this part justice, so after watching his ender above, rewatch his part again...and again and again. And again.

Besides this instant classic of a video part, Westgate also looks to be coming out with something of a clip for his new Emerica pro model as well as some always appreciated NYC footage through Zoo York's King of New York at the end of the year. These are just the cherries on top of MADE.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

SOTY 2013 Contender #3: Ishod Wair

Ishod Wair is one smooth dude. He somehow makes skating the grimy, rough East Coast spots look like a stroll through the schoolyard. His talent is beyond comprehension for a lot of people, which makes sense as to why he can put some of the toughest tricks together in lines and make them look so easy. For example, one simply doesn't kickflip the LOVE park gap at the end of a line...except for Ishod in his Sabotage 3 Remix (which was technically released for the full video in 2012 but I'd say still plays a role for SOTY 2013). He just so happens to follow that up with a front shove down the gap, no biggie (pun intended as you'll see later...)
Right now, the main argument for why Ishod should be in contention for SOTY is his very recent and appropriately titled Wair N Tear part (above), as well as some clips of gold in The Philadelphia Experiment.
In Wair N Tear, Ishod nonchalantly shreds the streets in so many ways. From finding tight spots to churning out lines for days, Ishod's relaxed demeanor and relatively relaxed spot selection leaves you in a bewildered state of mind because when you least expect it he'll suddenly be skating a hefty gap or huge handrail with that same ease as if it were a flatground trick or a ledge in a plaza. Some of my favorite moments include the line at 0:38 with a very pleasing nollie heel back tail, the surprisingly tall boardslide (I say that because until you look at the rail by itself you couldn't tell from how Ishod casually gets on top of it) at 1:25 right in the middle of a "marathon" line, both frontside and backside nollie flips done flawlessly down a sweet street gap at 2:59, and then from 3:24 till the end he just throws out breezy hammer after hammer until his switch front biggie closer down the LOVE gap. (If I'm not mistaken, that makes 5 tricks down the famous gap. 3 mentioned through these video parts and also the switch flip (3:47) and heelflip (0:22).)
Also, Ishod had quite a few clips in The Philadelphia Experiment: at 0:54 he has a few clips that show off his diverse skill set, at 3:25 he skates LOVE park with a smooth ledge line and a kickflip back lip comparable to ones by Torey (replacing the tornado arms with probably the most gangster-stylish ones you could find), at 4:21 he does a beauty of a frontside heelflip over the iconic tile bump to garbage can LOVE park is known so well for, and at 7:51 he strings a kickflip back lip and a nollie flip crooks where for each he actually slides/grinds for a long distance, unlike so many quick-tappers today. Like I said before: clips of pure gold.
The footage mentioned here alone is already really great, but what makes Ishod such a great contender for SOTY 2013 is his upcoming part in Chronicles Vol. 2. If the hype is real, which I don't doubt for a second, Ishod's part is going to blow some minds. Watch out for this potential SOTY.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

SOTY 2013 Contender #4: Ben Raybourn

Ben Raybourn came out swinging this year. Early on, he closed out the Bones Video New Ground (his part above) with a bang. From the gnarliest terrain to some of the heshest tranny and bowl tricks, Raybourn pretty much defines thrashing. His ability to boost airs out of even the smallest transitions and at the same time land in the tightest transitions in pools and whatnot is just insane. I still cannot comprehend his ender for the New Ground. And if putting out a banging part wasn't enough, Ben came out with The Raybourn Identity just to show how much thrashing he's actually been doing, including dropping in from trees.
Two heavy video parts and Ben still is getting loads of coverage from sequences to little ads to handling tasks for KOTR. Outside of Thrasher, Ben had a very ripping Rip Clip for the Skateboard Mag, just to show that he just doesn't stop skating and that he is at that level where he can consistently put out quality footage. What's also peaked my interest is that the Rip Clip caption mentioned something about another Raybourn part coming out through The Mag later this year. If that's the case, Ben's run for SOTY is very, very strong.

(Time constraints prevent me from delving into Ben's video parts and ridiculous tricks, which is unfortunate because he absolutely kills it!)

Monday, October 28, 2013

SOTY 2013 Contender #5: Clint Walker

When someone drops a video part this gnarly, there's no doubt it deserves to be on repeat for a while. I'm still watching this part today, which says a lot for being released with an online video. Clint's quick-to-spring-back-into-normal-riding-posture style is really unique but works extremely well with his skating. With the right amount of heelflips and kickflips, slides and grinds, and single bangers and hard lines, the part really comes together as one of the best of the year easily. I could list the craziness in just about every single clip in the part, but for sake of quality over quantity, my absolute favorites were the about-to-be-kicked-out triple set ollie body varial, the extremely long and gnarly bump to street gap kickflip, and the ender 50-50 through hell, all at the end of the part. Words cannot describe the testicular fortitude it must take to handle those tricks, but that's what Clint does best, and I absolutely praise him for it.
The great editing from the guys at Ambig for the full Modern Art video definitely helped make Clint's part an instant classic and it also helps with his run for SOTY to have additionally dropped this part for a Red Bull Interview with some bonus tricks.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Next Week: SOTY 2013 Contenders

It's always hard to think of there being only one single Skater of the Year, but Thrasher has kept up with the task every year since 1990 of honoring one awesome ripper with the title. Now that we're in the last quarter of 2013, it's an appropriate time to take a look at some of this years top contenders for SOTY. This week will be my personal top 5 picks for who I think could take the title.
It's always tricky with the politics in the skate industry because the award for SOTY can almost be considered a universal title, yet it's exclusively given out by Thrasher Magazine. So whoever decides the winner in the end has to have some preference towards skaters with loads of coverage in Thrasher specifically, as opposed to other magazines. This does shift my Top 5 somewhat, but regardless, here are a bunch of guys that could definitely be deserving of such a title but that I don't think will ultimately win the award:

Dudes like Tommy Sandoval and Dane Burman skated the gnarliest (to say the least) spots in Road Less Traveled, and are likely going to have standout parts in Cold War, assuming it still comes out before the end of the year. Unless those parts are seriously groundbreaking, their not-technically-full-parts-but-more-like-montage-clips from RLT probably won't put them at the SOTY level this year, in my opinion. Same goes for Chris Cole, who has been on the contest circuit this year. You can never count him out for dropping a legendary part in Cold War, yet I think it's going to have to be just that in order for him to come close for SOTY.
Guys like Walker Ryan and Julian Davidson (who dropped most of his footage while still am...would that make a difference towards SOTY?) came out with loads of really great footage this year. Both had amazing parts in Perpetual Motion, which coming from Transworld may not help them in the SOTY race. Walker had a really awesome part in Organika's Grow With Us as well as a sweet Mag Minute for the Skateboard Mag (again probably not helpful for Thrasher's SOTY). Julian had sweet footage in his Element Pro Part including that wonderful Bercy frontside flip, as well as a nice clip for getting on Etnies. Despite both of these dudes killing it this year, I feel like their lack of Thrasher coverage goes against them with respect to getting SOTY.
Then there were guys like Jim Greco and Bob Burnquist who each dropped a single part, but a single part that was insane in both instances. Greco even came out with probably the most memorable commercial ever (for me anyway) for Supra that I'd consider for his year of awesome skating. For these two guys, despite dropping epic video parts, I just have a gut feeling like they're missing something for the SOTY running.
David Gravette came out with a nutty part in CSFU and backed it up with his just as crazy Real Street part. Again, David could totally deserve SOTY this year after these ridiculous parts but I just don't personally see him winning this year.
Daryl Angel is sort of an underrated guy for me but with the potential to still make a really strong run for SOTY this year. He had a memorable couple of tricks in Austyn Gillette's part in Cosmic Vomit 2 and still has a part coming out in Chronicles Vol. 2 as well as some clips if not a part in Habitat's Search the Horizon (assuming that's released before the end of the year). I'd say his more simplistic take on his tricks together with his smooth and speedy style combine for the potential for a pretty awesome part in the Nike video, something worth mentioning with this SOTY talk.
Also, there are guys like Shane O'Neill and Luan Oliveira that likely will have outstanding parts in Chronicles Vol. 2, but much like Chris Cole with Cold War, those parts will surely have to be outstanding to be considered in line for SOTY 2013.
And finally, considering that the Plan B video is not going to drop before the year ends, that takes away a good number of other skaters that could easily be in the run for SOTY. 2014 better watch out for this though...