We here at Be-Mag see a lot of rollerblading, so it is safe to say we can give a genuine opinion of who we think performed the best in 2017. While we work on finalizing the Top Ten of 2017 special edition, we decided to tell you what we saw as the best in blading last year.
Top Skater: You
You. Thank you for keeping rollerblading going strong. Every time you go out to skate, sit in the car for hours to get to a spot, share costs with your buddies to go on a skate trip, every time you buy a VOD, every time you buy new product from a dedicated blading company, every time you support your friends’ work for rollerblading. Every trick you lace or get jacked trying, every time you go out to film with your buddies, every time you stand up to skateboarder jocks, every time you give a pair of used skates or frames to a friend that can’t afford new ones, every time you organize a film evening. Every time you sport rollerblading proudly. You are the blader of the year. Keep up the good work.
Runner-up: Eugen Enin. If it wasn’t for you guys, Eugen Enin would have been my favorite for Top Skater. He might be the single hardest working man in rollerblading. His work ethic is without flaw, and he’s shaping the present and the future of rollerblading as both a skater and the man running the USD team and multimedia.
Too many tricks etched in the memory of rollerblading forever.
Photograph by Ryan Loewy for Be-Mag
Runner-up:Dead Wheels’ Champagne. Every rollerblading era has it’s team video to rule them all. In the mid nineties it was Medium’s Smell the Glove. In the early 2000’s it was Mindgame’s Brain Fear Gone. In the mid 2000s it was 4X4’s Leading The Blind. In the late 2000’s it was We are Valo 3 and then Valo 4 Life. Today, it’s Adam Johnson and David Sizemore‘s Champagne. Dead is right now the team with the biggest concentration of the best and most influential skaters in the past decade and a half, at their most creative, and Sizemore’s artistic vision is as crisp as a winter’s day.
John Lyke and his gang of misfits made one of the funnest videos of last year. The unpretentious, yet contemporary, fast skating is just what we needed early last year to make sure we don’t take ourselves too seriously. John’s and Casey Geraghty‘s sections are perfect.
Mike Torres managed to capture some of the best skating of his Rochester buddies ever. The video had an incredible rythm and Be-Magger Grant Hazelton’s two sections from the video are the textbook case for balanced, well thought out blading.
Photograph of Alex Broskow by Ryan Loewy for Be-Mag
This type of pro level skating for free? Rollerblading is selling itself short too often.
Photograph of Levi van Rijn by Sean MacGowan Top Up and Comer: Levi van Rijn
Adapt Brand‘s child prodigy is just something else. Young enough to still be allowed to look for his own perfect expression, Levi’s unique skating style and trick selection bridging new trends with classic staples and spot selection that shows he can skate everything put in front of him is making the lad a future legend.
When you produce four Elite Series VODs in a year with some of the best ever to be put on a pair of wheelie boots, make it so that every angle is a sincere compliment to the talent of the skaters, you deserve the title of the videographer of the year, even when the competition is the rest of the best active videographers in rollerblading.
Portrait of Dominik Wagner by Ryan Loewy for Be-Mag
In a summer / fall 1999 issue of Daily Bread, $enate ran a multi-page campaign introducing the Kill Team, with the slogan “Remember when $enate was cool?”. A few issues later, in the Quotes section of Daily Bread, there was a quote from somebody’s mom commenting that $enate campaign: “Those guys look like a bunch of dweebs”. This could never happen to Dead Wheels.
Top Skater: Collin Martin Top Free Release: $.25 by Dirtbox
In my opinion, I do not think there was any one that was more influential in changing people’s perspective of rollerblading in 2017 than Collin Martin. His $.25 edit was a game changer to put it mildly. After that edit, everyone was doing cesses into tricks like it was something we’d been doing for years. The thing is though, Collin has been a great rollerblader for a long time now. I remember his profile in an old issue of a Daily Bread Am feature in the early 2000s. And he was always a pivotal part in promoting the Chicago scene. I really love seeing that he’s been in the sport so long, and still has an impact on the scene, more significantly so now. Within these past few years it seems, he’s honed in on his incredible abilities, and from that made some fucking magic. Like honestly, the dude’s skating is incomprehensible at times. There are only a few people out there that make you stop scrolling and want to watch, in detail, how they’re skating and what they’re skating, and Collin is one of those people.
Portrait of Alex Broskow by Ryan Loewy for Be-Mag Top Section: Alex Broskow – Champagne
Aside from him obviously being the best, there’s a feeling in this section that, I do not know, but it feels similar to the first time I saw WORDS or Coup De Tat. To say Sizemore is phenomenal at his craft of video work is a gross understatement. This section just flows so fucking well, and it’s exciting. You know you’re going to see amazing things throughout, but the momentum of how this section works is what sold me on it. To say this is among Broskow’s best may or may not be dishonest of me, because I honestly do not think Alex has reached his peak and I really don’t know when that’ll be, but this is certainly among his sections to pull up whenever, if ever, anyone questions his status as GOAT.
Josip gave me shit for this*, but I think Bobi is the best. I absolutely love watching him skate. His approach is similar to that of Collin, executing these mind-boggling tricks with little effort but with maximum style. I really want to photograph Bobi, but I also think he’d probably be difficult to photograph, as highlighting the true essences of what makes his skating so enjoyable would be hard as he executes them in a blink of an eye it seems. I really hope someone puts Bobi on more this year and that I can see a full lengther from him, I definitely think it’s overdue. (* Josip’s note: I love Bobi’s skating, and agree with everything Ryan wrote, I just don’t consider Bobi a newcomer to the scene)
I really dig Danny Beer. He just seems like a hilarious guy to be around and just someone that can hypnotize you if you were there to watch him skate in person. PROGRAM really was above and beyond what I’ve seen from VOD releases this year. I think what attracted it to me the most was the effort involved in the release, utilizing a faux web shop, not really promoting it until it was actually released, and the filming and tricks as well are just awe-inspiring. I think this video pisses some people off, and I like that. Like, they want this traditional, jock-type skating, and this is the opposite of that. Specifically with Beer and Nemiroski, they rework what can be done on skates, and I feel that is way more important to blading’s progression rather than seeing what we’ve all see thus far ( big gaps, long rails, tech switch ups, etc. ). I am really hoping to see more from these two in 2018.
If anyone knocked it out of the park this year, it was Shawn Engler. His photography for Champagne was nothing short of phenomenal. Shawn’s been an incredible photographer already for years, but the print book they did for the video was just immaculate. The black and white photographs, printed consistently, lit perfectly, shot at just the right second in time, of one of the best teams in rollerblading, there’s really nothing more you can ask for. Shawn is the definition of a great photographer.
Portrait of Mike Torres by Ryan Loewy for Be-Mag Top Videographer: Mike Torres
Mike Torres encapsulates what rollerblading should be, how it should be seen, so fucking well, and yet is so humble simultaneously when told so, that really, I just admire the guy a hell of a lot. His releases of One for the Road, as well the Church of Leon, this past year were done so exceptionally well, and his understanding of his crafts, it’s like a black hole. He just knows so fucking much. And he is so fucking good. And he’s been so god damn good for so long. Shame on all of you for not nominating him.
Nobody puts in the effort to their projects the way Jon Julio does. His approach to marketing and branding is really unlike anyone else’s, and anyone else that does do it similar, is only doing it because Jon did it first. I heard some mix shit about Blading Cup this year, but I honestly don’t care, because what Jon is doing is so much bigger than some random opinion of it. His attendance numbers are always great, and the competition always looks like a solid time. He’s developed it to include all aspects of blading, and he ensures to tip his hat to those that assist him. I do not think anyone will put on a competition in the consistency that Jon does, and I can only hope the sport can continue to have such an incredible leader like him.
Since its inception, and not even 2 years in age, I don’t think I’ve seen any new company put out as much content than what Sean and Colin Kelso have done with Bacemint. Valo Philly, Fish Guys 3, Trust the Process, plus a handful of quick park jams keep the appetite at bay for solid blading from some of Philly’s finest ( holy shit Anthony Marchione tho, right?). Their approach to social media is refreshing too; I’m really a fan of Sean’s audio-video collages of old animations paired with tracks he’s made.
For their clothing, I do wish they made smaller sizes, as I really do dig their color selection for the pieces they’re producing, and they’re also producing pretty intriguing pieces to bat ( a baseball jersey is something I’ve wanted from blading 15 years ago, TY Sean Kelso). And I know people may be feeling otherwise, but I fucking love the way they dress. I wish I could pull that shit off. But I can’t. I’m too short and awkward. But hey, a man can dream, right? Or at least admire.
Be sure to keep an eye out for our special online release announcing our 2017 Top Ten.