Blader Digest: 2013 Was a Damn Fine Year for Blading

In a few short weeks, we’re going to close out the 2013th year of our Lord. While the U.S. media is busy debating the ethnicity of he and his fat bastard uncle, Santa, we here at Blade or Die hope you get nothing but freshies in your stocking or under your Festivus pole.

From saying goodbye to BCSD to watching Richie Eisler’s backside on a Vancouver bridge go viral, it was yet another stellar year of rollerblading history.

This year’s awards are dedicated to the memory of Brandon Negrete, who continually made our sport look its best by pushing skaters and blade media to inspire us Forever (Negrete). You will be missed but never forgotten.

Without further ado, here are Blade or Die’s annual recognition of some of the best in a year of blade.

(But don’t forget to check out ONE Magazine’s Awards as well.)

Skater of the Year: Richie Eisler

This designation from this site is long overdue, mainly because Richie has been steadily slaying the blade game for a long time now. While 2013 was no different, his skating managed to possess the blading finesse to make Danny Beer’s edit of his skating in Vancouver to go viral, which, as we all know is no small feat.

Richie snagged up a few contest wins while continue to skate the globe like it’s his backyard p-rail, so there’s not much else to say that hasn’t already been said. You can read more of my perspectives on Richie in Blader Digest: How Richie Eisler Saved Rollerblading Forever.

Congratulations, Richie. You certainly earned it. Just wish there was money to go with it, but hopefully you accept IOUs.

Edit of the Year: Billy O’Neill SSM

Now, it may seem a bit strange to talk heavily about a guy’s edit that got so much attention and then not give him edit of the year, but unless you forgot, Fish put out this wonderment of blading spectacles five months ago thanks to the Hatian Mag kids.

It’s two-and-a-half minutes of classically pure Fish style and hammers, but even decades after his name became known, the man continues to push himself and our sport into dizzying blends of stupidity, malice, and ballsiness.

In one edit, he essentially retired the Staples Center ledge by filling in the details of his Hatian Mag cover shot, and went between, over, around, and under some sketchy and weird rail spots.

Oh, now we jump over rails to get to shit now. Death gap not good enough? Oh, 270 over one rail so you can top soul another? That’s fine. No really, that’s real fucking fine! Thanks, Bill. I’ll be right there behind you.

I’ll put it this way, from one New Yorker to another…

Bill, you’re a sick, sick fucking guy, but I’ll leave that burly Evil Knevil shit to you.

But, for group edits, you can’t beat the Valo X Strange edit from this fall…

Blade Duo of the Year: Franky and E. Rod

It’s not just one edit combining the physics- and body-contorting blading from Franky Moralaes and flavorful capturing and editing styles of Erick Rodriguez, but it was a year full of them.

Just to see where the two are going—just on mere aesthetics alone—check out 0:19 to 0:23 of their latest edit. (If you’re smart, you’ll watch, or have already watched, the full thing.)

And just for fun, check out the one they released two weeks before that one.

Gives me the damn shivers. Can’t wait to see what they have in store for 2014.

There’s another edit from E. Rod below, so don’t click away too fast.

Video of the Year: Valo V

We’ve all talked about this already, and I’ve already written about it enough, so let’s keep this short and sweet. The long-awaited next Valo team video after 4Life did not disappoint. With the addition of David Sizemore, the scale and veracity of the team’s skating, as well as the B-roll from their numerous travels and interactions, was a complete joy to watch.

The content of the film aside, you could buy copies of the video, complete with photo book casing, immediately after the premiere at the theater. RIGHT AFTER THE VIDEO WAS PREMIERED!!!

Every time Ivan puts out a video, he has to put together some fancy shit. Since his last two videos came with books, I’m curious to see what the slippery fucker has planned next.

For the rest of the team, I can’t think of a single one of them—Bailey and Broskow to Itchy and Cosi—whose skating doesn’t make my palms awkwardly sweaty.

NOTE: Shout out to El_CHVPO for utilizing available technology to allow for cheap rentals or downloads. Read more about it at Be-Mag and why it’s the best $2 you can spend all year.

Section of the Year: Victor Arias in Valo V

This fucking guy.

Long ago, Victor Arias made his name on control and style (a rarity for someone as tall as he is). Maturing off somewhere on a horse ranch, the man shines any moment a camera is pointed at him (or he’s pointing it at others as Ivan’s main second-filmer [or first, depending on who is telling the story]).

Victor’s section stacked hammer on hammer, leaving one to wonder if the last trick wasn’t the ender, what was coming next. And what came next, in rapid fire succession, is an edit that will be replayed and reposted for the next decade and with great merit.

I’d post a video of it, but since I try to keep inter-blader piracy and thievery to a minimum, you’ll have to buy it yourself or borrow it from a friend to see what you’ve been missing out on, or at least missing since you last saw it.

Contest of the Year: BSCD

I’m not there right now—nor do I have a rational reason to go to Detroit in the winter—but I imagine it’s still so damn cold in the D.

After 13 years and multiple locations, Daniel Kinney turned in his Midwestern winter competition hat and left it open for the younger kids. Me, I was merely at boy when I first met her and she aged me in the process, but damn did I always come back with a story or two.

BCSD, we’ll always miss you, but we’ll never forget you, too.

Honorable mention: Blading Cup. Shit’s hella fun. You should go. Fuck, some Middle Eastern lifestyle magazine printed a story about it along with a fucking Hobbit. How fucking cool is that?

(Again, sorry for the lack of international contests in here, but I’ve never been to one and I can’t endorse something I’ve never experienced, like heroin. Now that I’m free at the end of February, feel free to send me a plane ticket to Winterclash and I’ll check it out.)

Best Facial Hair: Jan Welch and Matthias St. John

Since everyone and their brother is rocking a beard now (myself included), you better grow something gnarly to get noticed. Jan and Matthias are no newcomers. They didn’t throw away their razor for Movember or any other silly testicle-related endeavor. No, these men are pioneers of their craft.

Both could host a commune of birds and squirrels with room to spare. (I think it might have something to do with hanging out with B. Free. Somebody should look into that.)

Best Non-Skate Product: Cupron Socks

For my day job, I write about health and science stuff, so people are always sending me stuff, from self-help books to “miracle cures.” About a month ago, Cupron Socks sent me two pairs of their diabetic socks. I’m not diabetic, but I started using them on their claims that they kill the fungus that kills athletes foot. Hell, they worked for Chilean miners trapped below the Earth’s surface, so surely they could handle some blade fungus.

If you’ve ever been around me long enough, you know my feet are disgusting. After years of going from skates to boots without a shower in the middle, there’s some funky stuff going on down there. (Hell, I clouded up Bambrick’s house so bad after BCSD I was nearly thrown into a snow bank.)

Besides the cushy padding, the copper oxide built into the socks has really helped my feet from making my girlfriend’s eyes water after walking a few miles each day. So that pays for itself.

While you might think it’s a bit ridiculous to pay $40 for three pairs of socks, it’s a hell of a lot better than dishing out $8 a week for a can of Tinactin and your bathroom floor won’t look like you have a blow problem.

Team of the Year: USD

The Yankees of rollerblading, USD pays its skaters well, and for that cash, they’re expected to produce results. And they did.

Everyone on the USD pro team pulled hard this year. Besides the aforementioned Richie and Frankie, there’s still Jeff Dalnas, Demetrios George, Nick Lomax, and Matheiu Ledoux.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget Montre Livingston, another contender for skater of the year. The man is one of the best crowd pleasers to ever hit the game. Fast, big, and always cheesing, Montre is always a damn fine representation about everything good about blading.

Check out the rest of the team’s year on The Conference’s Vimeo page.

Scene of the Year: JSF (Yes, Two Years in a Row)

From documenting the game and pushing it forward, these band of miscreants are my family, my brothers from other mothers, and a crew whose influence spans from the top of Rollerblade, Valo, and Razor down to the scummy depths of Fester, SSM, and numerous other brands.

These guys are the best, can keep a contest hype at full volume for days, and could probably out-smoke some of the gnarliest veteran potheads on the game.

Three of us—Ivan, B. Smith, and myself—were named ONE Magazines videographer, photographer, and writer of the year, respectively, so we have that going for us as well.

A big congrats to Erick “El Presidente” Garcia for once again upping the skitching game. Again, if you haven’t seen Valo V, you should even if it’s just to watch ESG skitch Bay Bridge morning traffic behind B. Smith’s motorcycle.

It’s JSF as fuck.

Blade or Die (and Happy New Year)

— Brian Krans

P.S.—If you haven’t read my books, you should. Besides, I’ll be hitting you all up for money for the next one soon, anyway.


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