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Skater of the year: in retrospect.

I'VE GONE to every Skater of the Year party since its inception in 1990. That first one was sick; it was on top of The City. Lots of booze, dope, skaters, and the vibe was out of control. Little did we know something so small would turn into the riots they are today. Fights, pepper spray, stun guns, and when skaters want to party, well, get out of the way. Some were bananas and some were tame, but the bottom line is that we pick the skater that best represents progression, talent, skill, and most of all, Thrasher. Mike Carroll called it SOTY in 1994--and it stuck. Here's a look down memory lane at the elite list of skateboarders who've changed history over the last 16 years. And here's to the next crop of heads out there--they're hungry and it shows. The natives are restless and the crowd wants blood. Skate or die.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 1990

TONY HAWK "I FIGURED THE ODDS WERE AGAINST ME"

What do your remember most about the year you won SOTY, 1990?

Vert was quickly becoming uncool, but it was a huge honor to be chosen by Thrasher for SOTY. Being a SoCal vert skater, I figured the odds were against me. Regardless, I remember thinking that I may not be able to skate for a living much longer, but I had no plans of quitting.

What was your situation at the time, where you lived, your sponsors, your routine?

I lived in Fallbrook, CA, had two ramps--one mini and one vert-bowl-spine contraption, and lived with my girlfriend Cindy, Riley's mom. I mostly skated there with my friends: Kevin Staab, Matt Goodman, Joe Johnson, and Chris Black. I was doing Bones Brigade tours, entering contests, making videos, and trying to street skate whenever possible. My sponsors were Powell, Tracker, and Airwalk.

At that time, who was your biggest competition?

Danny Way was just coming into his own so he was the one to watch out for. Omar was also killing it--and he could rip anything.

What was your reaction when you found out you won?

"Are you sure they counted properly?" I was stoked. KT called me personally to tell me.

What do you remember about the party?

It was raw and I liked it. Leather jackets everywhere and the coolest handmade trophy I've ever seen. I still have it. I drank a lot and my memories are a bit fuzzy, but Thrasher set me up in my first hotel suite.

You're famous for forgetting your trophy at the party. Do you remember what happened?

I must have been too excited about getting to the hotel suite. But I was probably just too hammered and forgot it as we left.

What are the biggest ways your life has changed since then?

Kids, divorce, a new sense of priority, recognition beyond anything I ever wanted or imagined, getting paid a lot of money for doing something that I would gladly do for free--and did for most of my life--a better appreciation for my opportunities, and finally, finding the love of my life to share it all with.

If you were to pick your best year, as far as your skate abilities, level of progression and accomplishments, what year would that be?

I would say my best street skating year was 1996, before my ankles started rolling at the sight of any handrail. It was also the last year I competed in street events. My best vert year was 2003, right before I got hurt that November (fractured pelvis, thumb, and skull). My flip tricks were more consistent than ever, I could still do all my old-school stuff, and 900's were on lockdown for demos--since it was the only request I ever heard after 1999.

Who do you think should have been SOTY in 2005?

Danny Way. The Great Wall jump on its own should earn him the title.

What's your prediction for SOTY 2006?

Andrew Reynolds, the comeback kid.

If you were to pick a Skater of the Millennium, who would that be?

Rodney Mullen. He's shown us what's possible with a skateboard in the purest sense, on flatground. We took that to other terrain, added to it, and the evolution of modern skateboarding began.

Where is your SOTY trophy right now?

On my shelf in my office, right between my first skateboard and my dad's flight helmet from World War II.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 1991

DANNY WAY "LIVE THE SKATE LIFE TO THE FULLEST"

How did winning in '91 compare with 2004?

When I first won it I was pretty young; I was like a kid. I'm older now; I've had so much more experience through skateboarding. I feel like it's more special now, you know? I can't believe that I'm 31 years old and people respect my skateboarding at that level still. So for me it's a way bigger accomplishment now than when I was younger.

How has your life changed?

In '91 I lived in Fallbrook, CA, with my brother. I still have the same friends I grew up with because I still live in the same area of the world. I still live in San Diego and I grew up there. Guys like Hensley and Ortega, I might not be skating with them everyday like when I was a kid but I still see them all the time. In the early '90s I started skating with Colin a lot and I still skate with Colin all the time today--when either one of us isn't hurt. It seems like one of us is always hurt when one's not, so actually we don't get to skate together very much. But the skate scene is different. When I was a kid there wasn't as much responsibility so I could really live the skate life to the fullest. Now I have kids, I have businesses, and it's hard to go back into that mindset I had when I was younger, because I was so carefree back then. But now there's a lot more stuff that I'm involved in so I have to think about things differently.

Do you have to pace yourself?

Not really pace myself skating. Before I just lived on my skateboard, but now I have a car, I have places to be and meetings to be at, I have to pick the kids up from school. It's a whole different ball game.

What skaters inspired you in '04?

In '04 I was filming my video part by myself, so I wasn't skating with too many other people at all. So the guys I would skate with are the ones who would come out to the Mega Ramp and chill with me, guys like Ryan Smith, Ryan Gallant, and Lindsey Robertson. That's who influenced or motivated me. Looking at these kids coming up and how consistent and how technical and just how next-level their ability was, for me it's just so inspiring to watch these guys and be on the same team as these guys. And I'm so much older; I'm so lucky to have these influences who have all this energy and who skate all the time. They produce so much stuff that it just keeps me going.

What was your reaction when you won?

I didn't really understand the first time. I was like, "Skater of the Year? Cool, I'm stoked." I didn't really get just how prestigious the award was back then. But over the years, obviously I've learned a lot more about what it means. Before I just got this call and they were like, "You got to come to this Thrasher party and you're going to get an award." I didn't understand back then. I didn't understand until later just how special that award was.

How was the party in '91?

I rolled up with Botts. Brian Botts and I got picked up at the airport in a limo. I remember I had a broken arm because I was up snowboarding with Botts in the mountains in Utah, and George Watanabe landed on me and the rail of his snowboard cut through my jacket and fractured my arm. So I rolled into the Skater of the Year party a couple days later with a sling on. If you look at some of the old Plan B videos at the mini-ramp sessions at Bryce's warehouse, I did a couple tricks with a sling on. I remember back then, and even now I guess, it's really hard for me to walk away from skateboarding when I see it, if I'm hurt or not. I couldn't control myself--I had to skate.

Did winning put pressure on you?

No. It took pressure off. After I won it, it was like "Cool, I won the award." It's like a one-time thing in your career; I accomplished that. Since the first one there have been like 13 different guys, and each one of those guys has been so important to skateboarding and each of their contributions has been so remarkable that I look at that group, and say, "God, I'm one of those guys." It's surreal sometimes. Then to get it again was when it really hit me. To get it twice was like, whoa! Very humbling. Like I said, it's a trip for me to be 31 years old and still right there skating with everyone and in the scene. That's the accomplishment for me.

Talk about the slam at the Great Wall.

The horrific slam was a little bit of a miscalculation. I don't know what variables or elements might have been involved in that, but I thought the math was right on the ramp. But I came up short and I landed on the deck. It was one of the most brutal slams I've had in my life, and I'm very surprised it wasn't more serious than it was. I literally walked off the ramp even though my ankle was fractured. I was able to hop off the ramp. To be going 50 miles per hour and hit a take-off ramp that's 10-feet tall, traveling 30 feet in the air, then landing on a flat surface on your feet--that doesn't seem realistic! That's like getting catapulted off the back of a truck on the freeway and landing on your feet. You should lose both your legs! It shows a lot for the human body.

What's been your best year?

Hard to say. So many ups and downs, injuries, highs and lows--I've been skating street, skating vert, Mega Ramp, mini-ramp, all the different genres of skateboarding. I don't really have a year where I just say, "That was the year." I feel like it's all the years combined.

Who was your SOTY pick for 2005?

Chris Cole. I think that was a great pick. Chris Cole has definitely proven himself and he was definitely the next guy in line. He has taken it to that level, I think everyone is aware of it. I hear nothing but stories about Chris Cole all the time. I hear first hand stories from Smith about things that I just can't believe. I really haven't seen him skate tons in person, but I saw him in action at the X Games where he was just hammering shit, one after another. Just shows how consistent the guy was. He's definitely a worthy candidate.

Predictions for SOTY '06?

P-Rod needs to be in there soon.

What about Skater of the Millennium?

I don't know anymore. It's like, fuck, there are so many good guys I'm confused. I could pick it apart because there are so many guys who are shining in my brain right now, but overall, out of the last five to six years, I really believe P-Rod is the future.

Where are your trophies right now?

They're at my house. They were on the mini-ramp the other day for a photo, then they were in the car for a minute. They've had a little bit of movement over the past week. They're not fixated, I guess.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 1992

JOHN CARDIEL: "NEEDLESS TO SAY, WE WENT HUTS IN THE SPOT"

What was going on for you the year you won, 1992?

I was doing a lot of traveling that year. I was also doing a lot of snowboarding at the time.

What were some of the highlights of that year?

Just being able to travel the world, skating a whole bunch of different places, and just vibing on different walks of life.

What was your living situation, sponsors, skate crew?

I was living up at my mom's house in Grass Valley, CA. I had just switched teams from Dogtown to Black Label, and I would spend a lot of time in San Francisco skating and kicking it with my friends.

What was your reaction when you won?

I was hyped!

How did it feel to see your name in the company of Hawk and Way?

It just pushed me to skate harder so I wouldn't let them down.

What do you remember about the party?

We were at this bar in SE and right before they called me up to give me the award I had bounced outside for a chronic break and I got locked out of the spot with a bunch of EMB heads. When they came outside looking for me they said only I could come back in. I told them, "I ain't going in without my friends." They finally agreed and had to let the whole EMB posse in, too. Needless to say, we went nuts in the spot.

Did winning put any pressure on you?

Nah. I just kept doing my thing and trying to progress.

What are the biggest ways your life has changed since then?

Well, I snapped my back and jacked up my spinal cord in December of 2003, which left me paralyzed for about six months, and slowly I've been working hard to regain my mobility and strength.

How's your recovery coming?

Good. I can walk--which is such a blessing--and slowly things are getting better and I'm happy about that.

What are some of the hobbies and activities you've been getting into while you recover?

I've always loved and collected reggae music tapes and CDs, and since I've been hurt I started collecting albums and 45's and playing them. There's just something about being able to touch and feel the music rather than just pushing play on the CD player. It brings me closer to what I love.

If you were to pick out your best year, as far as how you felt on the board, when would it be?

That's impossible to gauge, because some days are better than others, and the joy on those better days cannot be measured.

We picked Cole. Who do you think should have won SOTY in 2005?

Sure. It's just the way it goes. You cannot really say that someone else deserved it more when the joys of skating and his or her style cannot be judged. And Chris Cole undeniably rips.

What are your predictions for SOTY 2006?

I won't choose; therefore, I won't loose.

If you were to name a Skater of the Millennium, who would it be?

In my eyes, my friend Jake Phelps. The dude has been non-stop skating for quite some time. I, myself, have done a lot of miles with the guy, and just when you've seen it all, I'm sitting in a sandwich shop in Cambridge, MA, with some friends and the old man who owned the shop saw our skateboards. He started talking about old times and told us of an old skater back in the day that really impressed him over at the pool across the street from the shop, and how the guy had glasses and his name was Jake. Little did he know Jake was sitting right there, some 20-odd years later.

Where is your trophy right now?

In the trunk of my car.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 1993

SALMAN AGAH "EAT GOOD FOOD, GO OUT WITH PRETTY GIRLS"

What was going on for you the year you won, 1993?

Well I skated a lot, traveled around the world a lot, filmed a lot, and pretty much lived a life of leisure.

What were some of the highlights of that year?

I don't know about any highlights other than I didn't have much responsibility. That would be the greatest highlight. Well, I lie. I skated all the time and my body was not so damaged, so I could actually rip. I traveled all over the world and had the opportunity to make friends all over the world. I got to eat good food, go out with pretty girls, get treated like royalty by being catered to all the time, and had more money than I knew what to do with. I got free stuff all the time, and spent a lot of time with friends making memories. It was the best. Having all those opportunities and taking advantage of them are the highlights. I was featured in every skateboard magazine all the time. Shit, I could go on for days. There is nothing like being a pro skater. You're just famous enough to live the rock star life, but have the benefit of being able to go wherever you want without everyone and their morn knowing who you are. It's a trip. At least that is how it was back then. Just check out a Thrasher from the early '90s. Skateboarding was small.

What was your living situation, sponsors, skate crew?

I lived in San Jose, CA, at the time. My living situation changed a lot back then. I think I lived with Jason Adams and Alan Petersen at the time. I rode for Real skateboards, Indy or Thunder (can't remember), Spitfire, that's about it.

What was your reaction when you won?

Well, I knew before I got the award. I was driving to the tradeshow with Jeff Klindt, RIP, and Kevin Ancell. I remember Kevin being impressed with my driving skills when we got into LA 'cause there was a shitload of traffic. What's new? We were driving the Deluxe booth down from San Francisco in this massive flatbed truck. I couldn't see out of the rearview mirrors so I think Kevin was happy that I didn't kill us every time I changed lanes. Jeff, out of the blue and acting nervous, just blurts out this really strange question while we're sitting in traffic on the 405. He looks at me, and says, "So how does it feel?" Smoke in mouth, stopping and going, I look over at him, of course I had to look past Kevin because he was sandwiched in between us; I say, "What? What do you mean 'how does it feel?' How does what feel?" He looks at me, bouncing out of his seat all excited, "How does it feel to be Salman Agah?" I look over again at Jeff; he's acting all antsy, and Kevin's giggling. I had no idea what he was asking me. See, when I got sponsored by Real, Jeff didn't believe that I had what it took to be a pro skateboarder, much less the ability to influence other skaters when Tommy and Jim finally decided to sponsor me. I didn't know that about myself either; all I knew was I was driven to learn how to skateboard in my own way. So Jeff was basically asking me what it felt like to be the most respected and most famous skateboarder in the world at that moment in time. That is literally what he meant and what he was implying, and to be quite honest I was oblivious to it at the time. I knew people respected me because of how I was treated on tour, but I never thought I was any good at skateboarding.

What do you remember about the party?

I remember driving up to the party with my friend Tom Miller and his girlfriend Veronica, who was also a friend of mine. I basically came by myself, because while I drove they made out in the backseat of my car. I remember going to a warehouse where there was a ramp built and there were lots of people there, mostly skaters, and also some people that I didn't know. Everyone skated and drank beer and did drugs, and then I was presented my award and I gave a little speech and let everyone know that I skate for Jesus. It was really emotional for me, 'cause I knew deep down that I'd be lost from the moment I walked out the door that night.

You were one of the first street skaters to go switch. Who do you think has taken switch skating to the highest level?

It's hard to say; there are so many skaters that can skate switch now. Koston, P-Rod, Jereme Rogers, Brian Wenning, Kalis, Stevie Williams, Mafiano, Burnquist.

How many times had you broken your wrist when you won? How did this affect your skate career?

I'd broken/reinjured my left wrist seven or eight times and broke my right one once. Breaking my wrist actually affected my career in a positive way. It was my trademark in my heyday. Here is a message that I got on icelounge.com today. The kid that wrote this message to me is from Philly:

"Hey, this probably seems random, but I broke my scaphoid yesterday and I heard it was called the Salman Agah break. I don't know if it is true, but I thought I'd tell you since it was named after you ... "

What are your predictions for SOTY 2006?

Do I get to pick? Mark Gonzales or Cab. Give it to someone who has contributed more than a banging video part; although, I do also really have an affinity for Bastien Salabanzi. His attitude is so fucking awesome. He's like Muhammad Ali on a skateboard. I don't mean he's vocal like Ali, but his skating and body language are like Ali. I know other people are turned off by that, but I love that about him. Bastien stomps!

Skater of the Millennium?

Cab.

Where is your trophy right now?

Proudly displayed in my office.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 1994

MIKE CARROLL 'ALL MY FRIENDS UP ON STAGE"

What do you remember most about the year you won SOTY?

I didn't really pay too close attention while that year was going on. I do remember it was kind of free falling around the end of '93 through '94.

What was your situation at the time? Where did you live, your sponsors, your routine?

I lived at home ... maybe by myself or with Greg. I'm not sure if my brother had moved out by then. It was only us in that house. We had just started Girl the year before so my only sponsors were Girl, FTC, and Venture. I'm sure I didn't really have much of a routine then, except for waking up around one or two in the afternoon.

What was your reaction when you found out you won?

I think I was pretty confused. I didn't understand why and how. It was pretty strange, but I was psyched.

What do you remember about the party?

A lot of Strawberry Hill Boones and all my friends up on stage raging.

Tell the story about getting your cover shot.

I don't remember much. Is there supposed to be a story?

What are the biggest ways your life has changed since then?

I got the statue!

How has skateboarding, as a whole, changed since then?

Has it changed? I didn't notice. I think I'm still stuck in '94.

Who do you think should have been SOTY in 2005?

Mr "Fear No Man" Spermy, of course, 'cause he's my bud. But you guys made a good choice.

What are your predictions for SOTY 2006?

Sperm gets more tats.

If you were to pick a Skater of the Millennium, who would that be? The Birdman and the Gonz.

Where is your SOTY trophy right now?

Meza's office. Where else would it be?

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 1995

CHRIS SENN "I FELT STUPID ABOUT ALL THE ATTENTION AND HYPE"

What was going on for you the year you won the SOTY?

The year was a good one; I was living in Grass Valley with Anakin and his mom, skating a lot, and running Adrenalin skateboards. I was shooting a lot with Bryce and going to a lot of contests and placing. Well, that's about the time Emerica started and skateboarding was just starting to blow up again. What were some of the highlights that maybe put you in the running?

I guess I was just skating a lot and doing good at comps. I had no idea I would ever get something like that. I was totally blown away, 'cause I could think of 20 other people who I thought deserved it. What was the awards party like?

The awards party was pretty mellow. I remember Keith buying me shots and meeting Duane Peters for the first time, and I left early 'cause I felt stupid about all the attention and hype. It was cool, though. You are famous for being one of the only SOTY's who didn't actually get the cover. Do you remember why that was?

Shit, I have no idea. I took plenty of photos--and they put Ron on the cover instead, airing a car. I think Jake was out to get me. It was all his fault. Way to go Jake, you ruined my life (heh, heh).

What are some of the big ways your life has changed since that year?

I don't know if much changed; maybe my board sales went up or something. I guess I was just stoked that people enjoyed what I was doing and I was honored to be put in the same category as Cardiel and D Way and Hawk.

Who do you think should be the SOTY for 2005?

It's hard to say, too many people tip so hard now. But hell, D Way jumped the Great Wall! Give it to him again. What about the best skater of all time?

Personally I like the Gonz, 'cause he, to me, is what skating is about--not just tiding well, but being creative and active in the skateboarding community. He changed skating forever.

Do you still have your trophy, and, if so, where is it right now?

It's the only trophy I kept. It sits in my art room. I need Kevin Ancel to sign it for me.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 1996

ERIC KOSTON "IT WAS COOL THAT THE KIDS CARED"

What do your remember most about the year you won SOTY, 1996?

I turned 21 that year so I was a fully licensed party animal. After that, everything was a blur.

What was your situation at the time, where you lived, your sponsors, your routine?

I lived off of Melrose Avenue in a duplex with Steve at the time. I don't remember having much of a routine then. I think I was just skating. I do remember that was around the time I was working on my first shoe for eS. My sponsors were Girl, and I'm not sure if Fourstar had started yet. Oh yeah, and Orion. That was a fucking joke. They never did buy me out of my cut of the company. Who's got Larry Balma's number?

What was your reaction when you found out you won?

I was pretty psyched. I thought it was cool that the kids cared.

What do you remember about the party?

The party was a little weird. Not that I didn't appreciate it, but around midnight the club where the party was at turned into a Goth, black metal night. I remember Rick and I left and went to eat at the Stinking Rose and straight to bed. Not very eventful. If I ever get it again, I'll try to get arrested or burn down the venue.

Tell the story about getting your cover shot.

I remember Luke calling me up and saying that I needed to shoot a cover for the SOTY issue. There was no SoCal photographer for Thrasher around, so Luke had to fly down the next day to shoot it and all the time I had was that day. So I have to go pick up Luke at around noon from the airport and go shoot this cover and have no idea where to go and what to do. All I know is that I've got to have him back at the airport by like 7 pm. So after driving around to some really bad ideas for spots, we end up at the Venice Beach hubba and I noseblunt slid it and took him to the airport.

What are the biggest ways your life has changed since then?

Well, skateboarding got a lot more popular so things changed for me. I feel like the same dude, but I'm not living in a two-bedroom duplex paying rent to a nosey old Russian lady. Put it this way, skateboarding has made a great life for me and I appreciate every bit of it.

How has skateboarding, as a whole, changed since then?

Like I was saying, it became way more popular. It's taken over the world. The growth of it since then is phenomenal.

As far as on-board ripping, what has been your best year?

I don't know. I feel like I've had a few good ones. I really don't know which years they were. I never kept track.

Who do you think should have been SOTY in 2005?

I think Chris Cole was a pretty good choice. I rarely see videos or magazines so I'm not the guy to ask that question.

What is your prediction for SOTY 2006?

Maybe Bryan Herman. He's my pick because he's got a good hardflip.

If you were to pick a Skater of the Millennium, who would that be?

I'd have to go with the Gonz.

Where is your SOTY trophy right now?

It's sitting in my office on a shelf. I may get him mounted to the hood of my car. I'm not sure, though.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 1997

BOB BURNQUIST "IT'S AT THE CENTER OF ALL MY OTHER TROPHIES"

What was going on for you the year you won, 1997?

I was traveling around and doing a lot of skateboarding. It was two years in on my new phase of life in the US with a sponsor and a newfound stoke for skateboarding. I had always loved it, but when I moved to the US, skateboarding became such a part of my everyday life, especially in SE I remember having my board with me 24/7. Everywhere we went around the city, you could do it on a skateboard. Plus I was now skateboarding with high-quality gear and I got it all for free! It made a huge difference; I learned a lot in those first two years.

What were some of the highlights that year?

We traveled around and filmed for the Anti Hero videos. Our trip to Europe with Cardiel, Phelper, and Julien, and all the new parks I went to. I remember going to South Africa, and I had cut myself surfing in Hawaii a few days earlier. Muska was on that trip for eS, and I remember Ronnie Creager skating so good. We showed up at this one park with a huge vert wall. I couldn't really skate because of my cut, so I just cruised around in flip flops so I wouldn't make myself skate. But when we showed up at this demo and I saw that wall--I just couldn't help myself, and I climbed up to check it out. It seemed like it was going to be a lot harder to climb back down barefoot so I asked for Rune's board, and I dropped in barefoot during the demo and I almost went down. I made it though and the kids and the crowd were so amped. That's all I did that day. I couldn't really skate, but I could drop in. The next day we went back and I dropped in barefoot again to get a sequence. I don't think it was smart to have pushed the luck on the second go, but you know how it is. Gotta get the shot! We also skated one of my favorite snakeruns, the Germston bowl. Second to Tasmania. Lots of fun memories that year. I might have won a couple of contests that year, but who cares. I skated all the most exotic places, which overshadowed any competition.

What was your living situation, sponsors, skate crew, ere?

My crew was the SF crew. I was skating with Max Schaaf when I could to keep the vert in check, and cruising around town with Julien Stranger and Cardiel with some Andy Roy appearances ... Coco Santiago, Joey Tershay with some really fun downhill skating in the city. Legendary Backside 9th and all. Captain One-Eyed Ruben, Curtis Hsiang--we had some amazing sessions with Phil Shao; that guy was one of the smoothest skateboarders ever. I remember being beyond amazed by his natural all-terrain ability. We would skate the Widowmaker, Jake's warehouse. I can't remember if it was that year or not, but I remember going out there with Jake for his last good-byes and there were a bunch of old Thrasher magazines laying around. He was cool with me grabbing them and they're still in my collection. I had some memorable sessions there and I'm sure Jake has plenty of memories of that place. Roll in or go home! No exceptions.

What was your reaction when you won?

I was beyond stoked. I mean, I had some mixed feelings, like I was still young and I had a lot to learn and I was just starting. It was a huge honor for me. I remember looking at the issue when John Cardiel won while I was still living in Brazil, and there was a sequence of him ollieing the sea wall gap out at Ocean Beach and thinking how cool it must feel to be Skater of the Year. Then a few years later, and my life is completely spun around and there I am. I was the Skater of the Year, while skateboarding a lot with the man himself. I love you, John.

What do you remember about the party?

I remember I had a limo ride to the party, and that was not too common for me in those days. My mom and sisters were there. I remember I had a Brazilian flag on me, and I remember thinking about all the Brazilian skateboarders and what this meant for us. Sure, we can win contests, but a Skater of the Year was a first and that to me meant and still means more than any contest or run I ever put together. I also remember drinking some champagne and heading out to Colt Tower; we had the limo for the night so it was Little Brazil cruising around town and being stoked. I don't remember much after jumping in the woods and rolling down this hill at the tower.

What made you decide on shooting a classic SF street photo for your cover?

That Cardiel memory I spoke of came to mind when Jake told me to go shoot the cover. I was so stoked on those shots and the look that I felt I wanted to have something like that. I went out to the beach gap and kickflipped it; Luke shot a sequence but it didn't turn out good for the cover, so we went on another mission. I had this gap I would drive by pretty much every day at one of the on-ramps for the 280. Every time I looked at it I would picture myself doing it, so I figured it was time to put it down. I also remember setting up an Andy Roy board for it--it was a funny board graphic and I was down for web head.

Predictions for SOTY 2006?

You know, it seems like there could be someone I haven't even heard of. There are so many amazing skateboarders out there. For the purpose of putting some names down I would say Ryan Gallant, Rodrigo TX, Phil Shao--for tearing it up in Heaven.

Skater of the millennium?

That's an easy one. Danny Way.

Where is your trophy right now?

I took it out for a flight around town, then I put it back in my office. It's at the center of all my other trophies.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 1998

ANDREW REYNOLDS "A PLACE, PEOPLE, BLURRY IMAGES,, AND SOUNDS"

What was going on for you the year you won, 1998?

I was riding for Birdhouse and skating a lot.

What were some of the highlights of that year?

My video part in The End came out, and I was Skater of the Year. That was cool.

What was your living situation, sponsors, and skate crew?

I was living in Huntington Beach, CA, riding for Birdhouse at the time. I pretty much skate with all the people I was skating with back then.

Who were the dudes you thought were getting gnarly that year?

I don't remember much.

What was your reaction when you won?

Some people from the magazine told me in advance that I was going to be Skater of the Year, and I thought it was a trip.

What do you remember about the party?

A place, people, blurry images, and sounds.

What was up with that large leprechaun hugging you in the Birdhouse ad?

It was Mic-E Reyes congratulating me.

What are the biggest ways your life has changed since then?

Started my own company and sobered up, had a baby, and got married.

Did winning put any pressure on you?

No, not at all.

Before SOTY, had you ever won any trophies?

Yeah, I used to win trophies in local skate contests in Florida. I have them all at my mom's house.

If you were to pick out your best year, as far as how you felt on the board, when would it be?

I love every year on my board. We picked Cole. Who do you think should have won SOTY in 2005?

I think you should have given it to the Baker team. What are your predictions for SOTY 2006?

The Baker team. If you were to name a Skater of the Millennium, who would it be?

The Baker team.

Where is your trophy right now?

At my mom's house on top of my step dad's rifle case.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 1999

BRIAN ANDERSON "AIN'T BROKE DON'T FIX IT"

What was going on for you the year you won, 1999?

I had won the World Cup in Germany, and while shooting photos for SOTY I was contemplating skating for a new company called Habitat. I chose to stay with Toy Machine. Ain't broke don't fix it.

What were some of the highlights of that year?

Traveling the world for free with a skateboard and camera, being a part of Axion, and having a signature shoe was surreal. Moved to San Francisco. It rules here.

What was your living situation, sponsors, skate crew?

Living with the Bear Hafner, Staba, Joe Crack, and skating with Morford, Kerry, Maldonado, everyone.

Who were the dudes you thought were getting gnarly that year?

Arto and McCrank.

What was your reaction when you won?

Honored, feeling like I "made it," I guess; although, it was never a goal. I was just being a pro skater. Thanks, Ed.

What do you remember about the party?

Limo, Colt Tower, spliffs, saying thank you to weird people like De La Soul. No regrets. I walked home with my trophy in the Mission, ready to hit people with it. And blackout.

What are the biggest ways your life has changed since then?

I've simplified my possessions somewhat ... Uh, and I want a dog.

Did winning put any pressure on you?

It was a big deal to me at the time, and still is, but it didn't really pressure me. I was proud, I guess.

Describe your cover, for those who may not have seen it.

A spoof on "cash money" album covers. It was me in a throne with a sea of trucks and wheels around it, a cop car with bullet holes, diamonds, and jewels. I think most people in skateboarding really liked it. I was happy with it; it was a surprise that no one had done it already.

If you were to pick out your best year, as far as how you felt on the board, when would it be?

1998. But every year you progress in different ways; lose some old tricks, learn some new ones.

We picked Cole. Who do you think should have won SOTY in 2005?

Cole. He kills it on a skateboard. What are your predictions for SOTY 2006?

Bryan Herman or Frank Gerwer.

If you were to name a Skater of the Millennium, who would it be?

Mark Andrew Gonzales.

Where is your trophy right now?

Cool in Connecticut.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 2000

GEOFF ROWLEY "A LITTLE BIT OF A SCUFFLE WITH JIM GRECO"

What was going on for you the year you won, 2000?

That was the year we were making the first Flip video.

Tons of on-board action?

Definitely. Probably too much.

What was your living situation, sponsors, skate crew?

I lived in a two-bedroom condo, and I think Arto might have been living there at that time. Maybe Mark, too. There were a lot of people coming in and out. There was a lot more skateboarding, that's for sure. The crew was the same as now, exactly the same as now--Arto, Mark, Mouly. The team plus anyone who wanted to skate. As long as they weren't weirdos. My sponsors were all the same; they've been the same since 1991.

Had you started hitting the sauce at that point?

I started hitting the sauce about 1999. I think I was just on the sauce. And that's probably the reason it's gone downhill from then. I'm not the most consistent human being, but I'm trying.

At that time who did you think were your biggest rivals, as far as dudes getting gnarly?

I wasn't thinking about it. I was just thinking about back to when I was a kid and watching gnarly videos, and I wanted to do that for us. Does that make any sense?

What was your reaction when you won?

I was pretty surprised. I think everybody is. When you're skating that much you don't expect to get anything out of it or win something. It was nice.

What do you remember about the party?

A little bit of a scuffle with Jim Greco. He was definitely having a funny night and I was sober as luck. He bumped his head into me. You couldn't even talk to him, and we had a little bit of a crap fight. It was pretty bad, because I like the guy and I didn't want us to have to manhandle each other whatsoever. I've always gotten on with Jim. He's a good friend.

What are the biggest ways your life has changed since then?

Just growing up more, whatever that might be. I don't skate as much as I did then, but I think in the last year I'm more content skating. I'm more comfortable as a skateboarder than I was then. And that's nice.

If you were to pick out your best year, as far as how you felt on the board, when would it be?

Right now. I feel better now than I ever have. I'm a better skateboarder now than I was in 2000. Maybe I haven't progressed at as fast a rate as I did between 1995 and 2000, but I'm still progressing and that's all I want. As long as I'm always doing stuff that's better than before, even if it's not as much stuff, I don't care, 'cause that's what skateboarding is about.

Who do you think should have won SOTY in 2005?

I think Chris Cole should have won. He's a maniac. He's killing it.

What is your prediction for 2006?

Cardiel.

If you were to name a Skater of the Millennium, who would it be?

Millennium, that's a fucking long time! I don't know. It's not my job to answer those questions. It's the magazine's job.

Where do you keep your trophy?

In front of the fireplace, to the left.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 2001

ARTO SAARI "KEEP IT PINNACLE. DON'T LET IT COME DOWN"

What was going on for you the year you won, 2001?

Heavy schizer peddling on the board. Heavy, heavy times. I think we were still filming for the video at that point and we had been filming for 10 years. Isn't that right? Yeah, it was definitely heavy shredding. French Fred was around so we were on a constant mission of doom.

What was your living situation, sponsors, routine?

I was living in a house with some roommates, Clifford and that. There were constant Gerwer issues on the couch, too. For sponsors, Quiksilver came along soon after, but otherwise all the same.

At that time, who did you think were your biggest rivals as far as dudes getting gnarly?

Rodrigo, McCrank, Koston. All the Baker crew was going nuts. What was your reaction when Jake called to say you won?

I thought it was some sort of sick joke. I thought it was some kind of mind fuck going on.

What do you remember about the party?

I was being a complete asshole on booze. Those things are hard; you don't know how to take it. You have to stand in front of loads of people and you're just supposed to get this prize. It makes you a little weird sometimes.

How did shooting the SOTY interview compare with the interview you had done a year earlier?

It was easier the first time. It was definitely heated sessioning back then.

Describe getting the cover shot, the fakie back lip down Point Loma.

Holy fuck. It was a bit of a buildup for sure. I think you guys were already down in San Diego, CA, and we were supposed to meet at noon and we ended up meeting at 12 at night. Probably smoking a lot of drugs and trying to purchase a car and driving off the lot with all the plastic covering on the seats and everything, telling the guy at the dealer, "No. I want it now. I don't care if you clean it." It got me pretty amped. I needed to get to San Diego, so that morning I decided to purchase a car. I didn't need a $60,000 BMW--but I wanted it. I don't remember much about that night except thinking, "OK, I've got to skate this thing," and jumping down it and it working out all right. I didn't think it was going be the cover but I guess it turned out being what they wanted.

What are the biggest ways your life has changed since then?

Trying not to go downhill as much but somehow it ended up going that way. But it's getting better now. The vibes are high. It was such a high pinnacle peak with the trophy and all. It was such a peak that it had to go down a bit. It's just how it happened. It wasn't like, "Well, now I'm Skater of the Year!" It had been building up so much it had to come down a little.

If you were to pick out your best year, as far as how you felt on the board, when would it be?

I think it's still coming, I've had some pretty good years, but there's still more to come.

Who do you think should have won SOTY in 2005?

Chris definitely took it. He was everywhere out and about. He pretty much did the gnarliest tricks all year.

What is your prediction for 2006?

David Gonzales. His bails dropped early. He's definitely up there.

If you were to name a Skater of the Millennium, who would it be?

Definitely a hard one. Cards, Drehobl. Phelps, definitely those guys. Koston, Danny, Duffy, Jeremy Wray. There are so many stages of skateboarding, it's hard to pin one down.

Do you have any advice for Chris Cole?

Keep flying, mate. Keep it pinnacle. Don't let it come down.

Where is your trophy right now?

It's at my mom's house in Finland in the front room. It's sitting on a little piece over there, safe.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 2002

TONY TRUJILLO "BLOWING OUT HARSEILLE"

What was going on for you the year you won, 2002?

In Bloom, Marseille, TNT shoe. What were some of the highlights of that year? Blowing out Marseille my first time there.

What was your living situation, sponsors, skate crew?

SF, the usuals, Anti Hero.

Who were the dudes you thought were getting gnarly that year?

Cardiel. Always.

What was your reaction when you won?

Let's party!

What do you remember about the party?

Vomit wrestling in leather jackets with Trixie.

What are the biggest ways your life has changed since then?

Scrillas, nigga.

Did winning put any pressure on you?

Yeah. I hit the bottle hard.

If you were to pick out your best year, as far as how you felt on the board, when would it be?

2006 and beyondo.

We picked Cole. Who do you think should have won SOTY in 2005?

The Vert Viking.

What is your prediction for SOTY 2006?

Some kid I've never heard of.

If you were to name a Skater of the Millennium, who would it he?

JC, fool. Cardiel all the way.

Where is your trophy right now?

In pieces on our mantle.

SKATER OF THE YEAR: 2003

MARK APPLEYARD "SUPER HYPED ON SKATING"

What's up?

Just here in the Cayman Islands, about to go skate the park.

What do you remember most about the year you won, 2003?

Just going out. There was a lot of skating pretty much. I was skating every day. It was a good year. No injuries. Super hyped on skating.

Who was your crew at that time?

I think that was when I was living with Geoff. Arto, Bastien, and I were just skating every day. I was pretty charged, psyched to be in California and skating with my friends.

What was your reaction when Jake told you you'd won?

I was so hyped, man. I couldn't believe it. I never really thought that would happen. I was just really psyched. That's like the ultimate in skating, to get that call from Phelps. He never called me, so when I saw he called I knew something was up. It took a minute to realize it. I was like, "Oh, man. This is weird!"

What do you remember about the party?

I drove up there with my brother and I was so nervous. I'd never been on stage before and I was feeling really nervous. So I had to get real drunk to get up there, and then I pretty much goofed it and ended up making no sense because I was too drunk. Somehow I ended up with Matt Field smoking joints in the back--and then I was real messed up.

What was the story with your cover?

We went to Hawaii with Boost Mobile and stayed on the North Shore. It was cool. We hung out and then cruised some parks and got the cover.

A few people asked me if we Photoshopped stickers onto your board for that cover. Is there any truth to that?

There's no truth to that at all. Maybe it's because that was one of the only times I had a Boost sticker on the bottom of my board. I still ride for them to this day, but I never have any of their stickers for some reason. So no, definitely no Photoshop involved.

We picked Chris Cole. Who would be your pick for Skater of the Year 2005?

There are a lot of people killing it, but I'd have to say that was a pretty good pick. He definitely went above and beyond. I mean, who else would have tre flipped Wallenberg? I don't think anyone else could have done that. That right there was what put him over the top.

It's early in the year, but what are your predictions for SOTY 2006?

I don't know. I have to get myself in the right mindset to think about skating 'cause I'm in the Cayman Islands chilling. I've always thought that Bastien was going to get it. Every time he goes out and skates he pretty much handles something insane and blows you away. Yeah, probably Bastien, if he keeps doing what he's been doing.

What about a Skater of the Millennium?

Maybe Danny Way. Him or Eric Koston. As long as those two have been skating they've never fallen off the top. They've always pushed it no matter what. Everything you see of those guys is something outrageous.
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Title Annotation:S.O.T.Y. IN RETROSPECT
Author:Phelps, Jake
Publication:Thrasher
Date:Apr 1, 2006
Words:8898
Previous Article:One hell of a year: Daewon Song.
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