Freestyle Skateboarding is at an interesting point right now, with the lines between professional and amateur level skating becoming increasingly blurred. Pro-Am freestyle contests have typically proven this to be the case, with some of the world’s top professionals being beaten by up and coming amateurs.
Perhaps the reason for this, and arguably the reason that amateur contests can be more exciting to watch than pro contests, is the shared mentality amongst amateurs of throwing everything they have into their routines. Unlike pro contests, the prizes are less of an incentive. At the World Round Up, the top ranking professional earns $3,000. The top ranking amateur receives a bundle of skating gear. Whilst this is a very impressive bundle, the honour of winning the contest alone is a much more desirable prize.
Subsequently, rather than playing it safe and simply aiming for a top ten position, amateur freestylers will bring their most technical and obscenely difficult tricks to their performances; a high risk and potentially rewarding strategy that makes for an exciting watch.
We took a look back across 2016 to pick out some of the top amateurs who put together some of the most technically difficult and spectacular contest performances, dropped epic video parts and continued to progress the art of freestyle and skateboarding as a whole across the globe. With that in mind, here are our top amateur freestylers of 2016.
Kaue is one of many incredibly talented Brazilian amateur freestylers who has been on the cusp of turning pro for several years. Kaue started 2016 strongly, earning first place in the Big Rio Freestyle contest and returning to Vancouver for the World Round Up, taking third place in the amateur contest; his fourth consecutive top 3 finish at the event.
Shortly afterwards, Kaue was picked up by Moonshine Skateboards and proceeded to tour around Europe, hitting up as many freestyle contests as he could along the way. This began with victory at the Paderborn amateur contest, shared with Daniel Adam, and ended with a second place finish in the Pro-Am Stockholm Freestyle contest, even placing above freestyle legend Gunter Mokulys.
The Fujii name is well-known within the freestyle community, with Yuta becoming the latest member of the family to wreak havoc on the contest circuit. Despite his young age, Yuta has built up an impressive arsenal of tricks that he can unleash with incredible consistently.
Starting 2016 with a third place performance at the Tsukuma Cup, Yuta continued to develop over the course of the year, returning for the All Japan Freestyle Contest in September to take the victory in the amateur division and earning a spot in the professional head-to-head contest. Yuta continued to perform solidly, beating both Hidemi Oishi and Satoshi Ohashi to take 4th place overall.
Andy Anderson is a phenomenal skateboarder with an incredibly well-rounded skillset across all disciplines. Whether he’s shredding a bowl, flinging himself down stairs or simply skating on the flatground itself, Andy shares an almost intuitive connection with his board and absolutely shreds.
In April, Andy made the trip to India with Active8 Sports to skate for and with the local skaters, skating just about every obstacle he came across. After winning the World Round Up amateur contest in 2015, Andy was undoubtedly the one to watch and did not disappoint. Putting together three solid runs, Andy once again won the amateur contest and was awarded the much coveted Skate4Fun award. With back-to-back victories, we’re hoping to see Andy battling it out in the pro division at this year’s World Round Up!
Daniel has come a long way in a very short space of time, climbing from last to first at the prestigious Paderborn Freestyle Contest, taking first place with two solid performances. Daniel’s trick list continues to grow on an almost daily basis and is undoubtedly one of the top contenders in this year’s European freestyle contests.
In the last year, Derek’s skating has evolved, with his combination of incredibly technical tricks now being complemented by a smooth, flowing style that makes his skating a joy to watch. Amongst his achievements this year, Derek won the Best Trick Contest at the World Round Up with an incredibly technical truck to truck combo and took 2nd place in the Pro division of the US Championships.
Diego Pires Afonso
One of many up and coming amateurs out of Brazil, Diego has continued to progress in recent years and knows how to put together a solid routine. Diego started the year by taking 3rd place in the Big Rio Freestyle amateur contest and earned 2nd place in the closely fought amateur contest at the World Round Up, also taking a spot on the prestigious Moonshine Skateboards team.
Anyone who has ever skated with Robert can tell you that Robert knows all of the tricks. That’s right, all of them. Returning to Paderborn once more, Robert put together a fun and creative routine to take 2nd place in the amateur contest and even found a few minutes to film a quick video part with us.
Jumping up from Beginner to Amateur class in Brazil this year, Marcio Torres has established himself as a prominent contest skater and is consistently pushing for the top spots. In addition to winning the best handstand trick at this year’s World Round Up, Marcio took 4th place in the amateur contest with a spectacularly choreographed routine that is, quite simply, too good not to share:
As is often the case with many of the amateurs we pick out each year, it’s not usually too long before they make the leap into the pro division. Are there any freestylers that you’re hoping will turn pro soon? Who were your top amateur freestylers in 2016? Head over to the LateTricks Facebook page and join the discussion.