OUR EDITORS PROVIDE THEIR PICKS FOR THE BEST OF THE YEAR. Portrait and Cover Portrait by Kaspars Alksnis Disclaimer: When Ryan Loewy asked me to participate in Be-Mag’s Editors’ Picks for this year’s awards, my first reaction was to turn down the offer for a couple of reasons. First, I’m only a freelancer after all, and second, I’m way too involved in various projects, Cayenne especially, to actually offer an unbiased perspective. But he insisted, and here I am, ready to demonstrate why my opinion matters more than yours. Bare with me though, and you might learn something: If now’s the time to flatter individuals and boost egos – mine included – it’s also a good occasion to reflect on one of the most exciting years in modern blading history. Here’s what the last 12 months of actively blading, working behind the scenes and traveling as much as possible (usually all at the same time) have taught me! Dominic Bruce Male skater – Dominic Bruce Broskow and Eugen have reigned over the polls for the last couple of years, and 2018 probably won’t be any exception. But I’m my own poll here, and all voters agreed on Dominic Bruce! His performances in both Too Easy’s PAPAS and Razors’ Getting There were simply out of control, creative in more ways one could think of, joyful beyond anything you’d expect from actual skating videos, and when knowing that both were filmed in less than a week, it’s easy to see Dom has what it takes to hang with the best! Take into account his incredibly positive influence as a blader and a person, throw in his inspired appearance on the Jump Street podcast and his clips in Blæst for good measure, and it becomes impossible not to hand him the coveted crown right away… Not to forget that he is already chasing the next adventure with Haitian in South America! Female Skater – Manon Derrien I wanted to give this one to Chihiro. I really wanted to, especially after watching her impeccable street section in the Katana DVD. However, one last look at the stat sheet forced me to admit it: Manon Derrien truly was the top skater this year. Not only did she become the first ever World Series overall champion just weeks ago in Chengdu, she also won the most prized title in the game back in February when she took first place at the Clash. It’s not just about the contests either, as the French bladie is also hosting Blading Camp‘s Bladies’ Week in Malaga. Passing on the knowledge, while staying on top of her game, with this award here’s one more title she’ll have to defend in 2019! Jon Julio Influential Skater – Jon Julio In all honesty, who besides blading’s most resilient entrepreneur could have sold out on a pre-order run of a slightly updated Ultra skate before it even went into production? With the unstoppable rise of THEM skates, Jon Julio‘s influence and marketing talent was once again on full display this year, when the end of Valo could have meant the end of it all for the man who carried the brand for 15 years. One podcast later, and barely a year after the official launch of his new venture, El Presidente is not going anywhere: We certainly can be glad to have this man still sailing his ship on blading’s treacherous waters! View this post on Instagram my fav trick #roces #soulvisionworks #libertys #mftbrand #momowheels #groundcontrol #southernscum #chimeragames #cds #chimeradreamseed #インラインスケート #yutogoto #Repost @1968rollerblading ・・・ Yuto Goto @yutogoto /Saya/by @soichirokanashima /2018/Japan #soulvisionworks A post shared by Yuto Goto (@yutogoto) on Nov 30, 2018 at 3:42am PST Stylish Skater – Yuto Goto Some heavy contenders in this category, and it definitely ain’t easy to top Sean Keane‘s Grombé section or Chris Smith‘s overall Formosa performance. Yet we have to go to Japan again for this one: Recent Roces pick Yuto Goto not only laced two flawless video parts in Katana and The Groovy Deed, he also took his skills to the big parks and impressed everyone with effortless spins, smooth lines and first try stunts on the FISE course. A spot on the podium doesn’t do the Japanese steeze machine justice: Here’s an award to top it off, and all our wishes for a stylish 2019! Dominic Bruce Up and Coming – Dominic Bruce Oh, did I forget to mention Dom is only 21 years young? That’s right, in a scene where most pros are closer to 30 and have been around a long while, this lively fellow is a breath of fresh air, a seemingly infinite source of youthful energy in an industry which needs it most. If he’s already dropped a handful of memorable sections and been on countless tours, the best part might be this young lad is just getting started: Long live Dominic Bruce! MFTBRAND 2017.8.18 Misaki Katayama from MFTBRAND on Vimeo. Under 18 – Misaki Katayama Chihiro didn’t get the award, but there might be a sweet taste of revenge with this one. Another proof of the great depth of the Japanese scene, at only 16 years of age the hyper talented Misaki Katayama is just as stylish as her mentor, and with a great deal of technical moves on lock already, the student might very well be on her way to surpass the master! Only catching a glimpse of her skating this year, I hope we will get to see more of her in the future: After all, she’s got all the time in the world still! VOD – Formosa Now come on… Don’t expect me to help produce what I believe is one of the sickest things in blading right now, and not give my crew a well-deserved shoutout in return. I know how much work everyone put in, how hard everyone skated, how long it took to put it all together in the most visually pleasing form possible, and how heavy those tripods and light batteries were. Not only is it the best blade flick to show your non-blading friends, it also features the most diverse cast and the heaviest blading: Watch this one again and tell me who else could get that many bangers in less than a month? That’s right, Cayenne crew malaka! Free edit – Blæst David Sizemore fell in love and moved to Denmark. Then he fell in love again. Blæst is a visual tribute to David’s newfound home, beautiful Copenhagen, its incredible skate scene and the wonderful human beings that make it one of the most welcoming in the world. This one is as much about the skating, creative and varied, as it is about the people and the place, beautifully captured by David. If you were fortunate enough to see it premiere with the locals in an underground tunnel of CPH, you’ll know exactly what I mean! Oh, and of course Dom Bruce’s in it (starting to see a pattern here?!) Insta account – I literally just got a smartphone myself, y’all gotta give me a minute to figure this whole thing out… In the meantime, feel free to follow the freshly created @iamfreddywhite ah! Jeph Howard Rare Winter 2018 from Carter LeBlanc on Vimeo. VOD Section – Jeph Howard – Rare Winter Jeph Howard isn’t my favorite skater. Nor is he the most stylish or creative out there. Yet, this section really struck a chord with me, which still resonates almost a year later. It might be Dylan’s words or The Animals track. It might be Carter LeBlanc‘s smooth filming, flawless editing and great sense of rhythm. It might even be Jeph’s skating itself… The guy still goes harder than ever, meanwhile he’s also considerably expanded his arsenal of tricks. Rare Winter has it all, including 360 fishbrains both ways, big gaps, big spots, and too many enders to even write in here… Trends come and go, but someone who can true fish consistently will always have a shot at getting section of the year: In 2018, Jeph’s definitely got my vote! Boysen & Büttner | Photograph by Dominik Wagner Videographer – Boysen & Büttner Tell me this is not the best intro you’ve seen all year? The duo behind the Cayenne Project‘s video cameras strikes again in 2018, with another stunning piece which isn’t just a really good skate video, but simply a really good video, period. If you were lucky enough to watch Formosa in an actual movie theater, you know I speak the truth. Now, how two individuals with such unique visions and opposite personalities manage to work so well together will forever remain a mystery to me, but Karsten & Benny’s distinct styles did once again blend flawlessly to create what shall go down in blade history as one of its most remarkable visual masterpiece. Dominik Wagner Photographer – Dominik Wagner After seeing my friend Dominik this close to throwing his whole computer out of the window earlier this summer, it’s only justice he gets rewarded for sticking with me and successfully wrapping up our latest book collaboration – more on that below. Besides this near breakdown experience, he’s also the only nominee who’s had his work published (and sometimes printed) in every major blading media outlet this year, and even beyond. With a couple of exhibitions under his belt as well, it goes without saying he’s had a crazy year, well worth another accolade! And by the way, did I mention his photographs are incredibly beautiful too? Freddy White | Photograph by Kaspars Alksnis Writer – Freddy White After being a runner-up in this category for the last 5 years or so, I realize I might as well give myself the award because no one else will. Five years ago was probably the last time Brian Krans wrote anything blade related, yet without a fail, he gets it every year. This only proves that contrary to most, I actually read, care and purchase Brian’s books, when most vote for a name and not for the work. So I’ll shamelessly take this one and proudly retire, finally giving up on the hopes of becoming a respected writer, so I can dedicate myself to being a reporter, editor, journalist, translator, reviewer or anything similar instead, which won’t require me to face a white page with the fallacious ambition of being any sort of artist! (Full disclosure: After making the headlines nationwide and causing quite a stir with his poem How-To, Anders Carlson-Wee would have easily gotten this one. Too bad I never received my copy of Dynamite…) Podcast – Jump Street Two guys from New York, and two voices bladers all around the world were obviously glad to hear again! Judging by the great success and overwhelmingly positive response to their first show, which aired only a couple of months ago, and how quickly their audience grew since then, there’s no doubt Austin Paz and Billy O’Neill brought a much needed perspective on all things blading with their Jump Street show. If that format has developed a lot in the last few years, few podcasts have managed to reach their audience so brilliantly: Here’s to a great start, in the hopes of many more awards in the future! Print – Formosa book If you haven’t yet read my other picks for this year’s awards, let me sum it all up again: We Cayenne boys put our heart and sweat into this, and yes, the result is definitely worth some sort of award! If not for the sole fact we managed to overcome one hell of a writer’s block, a lengthy and frustrating photo editing process, having our team split across 3 different countries, and a love/hate relationship with our printer, at least this 96 pages, hardcover coffee table book gives justice to our crew’s most ambitious adventure yet, and that most definitely didn’t come easy! And yes, if you haven’t gotten yours yet, grab one of the very last copies while you still can! (Full disclosure: I haven’t yet received my copy of the Seconds book, nor gotten my hands on a copy of ONE’s 24th magazine or THEM’s anniversary zine. But I will soon, and so should you!) Company – Roces Although they never truly left, it’s awesome to see them back, and exciting to see what they’re going to do now. In a market which could have turned against them any minute, Roces managed to smoothly land a solid comeback. With Joe Atkinson and Nils Jansons as the new faces of the brand, and all the good cards to play in this game, one can only hope they’ve been paying attention these last 15 years, and will make all the right moves at the right time… Surrounding themselves with the right people and investing in the right projects & events will be key, and with new products ready to drop and quality media to back it up, we’re already looking forward to seeing how 2019 plays out for the historic brand from Italy! New Company – THEM skates Of course, there would be no Roces on my list if THEM skates wasn’t there to play the counterpart. Although the name itself is new, the mold the 908 model is based upon is ancient and the company would have drawn a lot less attention if it weren’t for Julio’s name and 15 years of experience with Valo. Nonetheless, it’s been a truly thrilling year thanks in great part to THEM and their masterful communication, not to mention the social media threads and drama that was bound to follow. A fresh new team, trendy image, and first pro skate (with the most significant royalties blading’s seen in a long ass time) for Sean Darst: More than enough reasons to grab the award and celebrate their first year in business! New Product – M12 Joe Atkinson It was high time one of the most interesting skaters of the last decade actually got rewarded with a pro skate, let alone actual support all throughout the year. After several years of dominating the contest scene and taking part in some of blading’s best video projects, Yorkshire’s pride and long time free agent Joe Atkinson finally signed with a boot company! And what better to seal the deal than with a gorgeous signature skate, reminiscent of the old ST80 colorway? Sure, the boot is nothing new, but what it represents in the year 2018 surely is: Congratulations Joe! Team – Cayenne crew Thought I was done with the shoutouts? Hell no, not until I praise the insane amount of talent gathered here once more at least! I mentioned the blading, the photo and videography, but what’s even more impressive is the work ethic that animates us all, and the variety of skills each member brings to the table. Need someone to freak the bonus fisheye angle? You got it. Crazy ideas for the next project? Gather everyone for a good meal and it’s done. Someone to jump in a room full of drunken assholes? We’ve got your back. Whether it be work, skating, fun or basic human skills and decency, Cayenne crew is tight like that. Seriously though, name 12 other guys who can survive each other’s company for a whole month? That’s right: You can’t. Skate Shop Ilios, All-Mighty, Ignition, Revolution, Aggressive Mall… I literally poured tens of thousands of Francs, Dollars and Euros into these stores, but apparently that wasn’t enough to keep them around. Now it’s cliché to say that brick and mortar shops are the backbone of a healthy industry, but there’s no doubt that when all there’s left is shopping online for ill-fitted shirts and skates two sizes too big, a huge part of our history and culture will have died with the last physical shop. These people are the most underappreciated element of the sport, yet one of the most crucial too. So next time you’ve got a paycheck to spend, forget about Amazon and Ebay for a second, and consider paying Loco Skates, Intuition, Skate Pro, Shop Task, Hedonskate or your nearest shop a visit: Who knows, you might even buy something you actually care for and end up using, instead of another gadget that will just end up cluttering your living space! Marketing – Valo A single post on Instagram to close an essential chapter of inline skating history. Four little dots, and a cryptic invitation to follow THEM in the next… If it’s somewhat sad to give the award to a now defunct company, it’s safe to say few handled their departure as well as Valo. After 15 years in business, the results speak volumes: A strong identity built around its founder, and an unmistakable, cult-inducing image carefully crafted through the years with countless tours, 6 team videos and a number of iconic riders & products. Julio was never truly the owner of the dream he was selling, but the fact that many thought he was proves there arguably never was a more talented marketer in this game! Competition – Winterclash Several of my good friends being involved with some of the sickest happenings of the year would make it near impossible to make a decision here, if it weren’t for Jojo‘s Winterclash. Ghetto Games, Abriss Berlin, FISE, Athens Blade House or Sofia’s Blading Olympics are all staples of my year, but the Clash is where I can see the people behind those events all gathered in one place, along with about a thousand friends from all over the world! Where else could you miss all the actual contest yet still enjoy blading and its culture more intensely? That’s right, I’ll see you all in Eindhoven soon for the best weekend of the year! New competition – FISE Hiroshima Where else would you get to see Takeshi Yasutoko shred a course that looks more like an oversized bowl than anything we’ve previously seen at FISE? For the first event they’ve ever organized in Japan, the Festival International des Sports Extrêmes managed to gather 135.000 visitors over the course of one weekend. Seeing how most bladers are desperate for mass exposure, that simple fact should be enough to grant the event an award in itself, but if you add the incredible action sports scene that thrives in the far East, how much style local riders bring to each discipline, and how excited I am for next year’s edition already, it’s an obvious pick to close 2018 and get ready for 2019! Freddy White is a former editor-in-chief for Be-Mag. He currently plays a pivotal role in managing and producing the Cayenne Project’s endeavors. You can follow him on Instagram here.