2016 was the year that Instagram reigned supreme, with many prominent freestylers moving away from the full-length video part and sharing shorter, punchier videos on an almost daily basis.
This shift could be viewed as having both a positive and a negative impact on freestyle. Whilst the continual stream of new videos and the inherent technicality of freestyle has encouraged an increased number of viewers, reaching a whole new generation of skateboarders, the disposable nature of the platform means that countless hours of incredible footage will disappear into obscurity, never to be seen again.
This has ushered in a wave of Instagram montages on more prominent video sharing sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo, which pack together dozens of individual freestyle hammers into a single trick-laden montage. These relentless trick-fests are exciting to watch, though often lack the grace and artistry of a traditional video part.
Despite this, 2016 still welcomed a wealth of exceptional video highlights featuring a host of genuine legends, rising talent and creative visionaries alike. Here are just a few of our video highlights from 2016.
Rodney Mullen – Liminal
The release of Liminal was exciting in many ways for freestylers, all skaters and the public in general. Rodney Mullen is widely perceived as one of the founding fathers of modern skateboarding and notoriously elusive; especially when it comes to releasing footage. From interviews over the last few years, in which Rodney details the physical toll that skateboarding so intensely for so long has had on his body, many worried that his skating days may be over.
Liminal shattered these illusions, with Rodney Mullen returning to form with a startling array of technical tricks, both new and old. The video was captured by fashion photographer Steven Sebring from every angle using his 360 degree photo studio.
The editing style was unique for a skateboarding video and unquestionably divisive amongst viewers, with many viewers suggesting the flashy and “overly artistic” style detracted from the quality of the skateboarding. It is highly likely that this was chosen to appeal to both core skateboarders and the typical followers of Vogue; which was inexplicably selected as the host for the video.
Be that as it may, the standard of skating was excellent throughout the video, with standout tricks including Rodney’s famous casper 360 flip to cross foot and an almost stationary 1 foot 540 shove it. It’s exciting to see Rodney return to his freestyling roots and especially worth noting that Liminal is the only video in this list to exclusively feature flatland freestyle.
Alexander Rademaker – Kyanq
The combination of Alexander Rademaker’s incredible skateboarding and Brett Novak’s spectacular cinematography has proven to be a winning formula in the past, though they have both truly outdone themselves with Kyanq.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about Kyanq is that it doesn’t feel like your average skateboarding video; and really, that’s because it’s not. Unlike many of Novak’s previous videos, Kyanq features a more defined narrative, suggesting that this it not just a skateboarder performing tricks but rather a personal journey the viewer is sharing with Alexander.
There’s so much to enjoy about this video that each viewing offers an entirely different experience. On a base level, the skateboarding is phenomenal (lateflip mid-manual combo, who does that?) but the video itself is beautifully crafted. It boggles the mind to consider the hours of painstaking effort that have gone into the planning, filming and editing of this video, which deservedly earned an honourable mention at the Los Angeles Film Awards.
Cristobal Bahamonde – Freestyle Skateboarding is Not Dead
Perhaps more commonly known as “Rodney Mullen’s Son”, as he was named by the internet a few years back, Cristobel Bahamonde has been dropping some incredible video parts for over a decade, recently returning from obscurity with several new edits and a wealth of new tricks.
Cristobel is effortlessly stylish with a fantastic array of street-enthused rolling flatland trickery and stationary combinations, many of which are truly unique to him. The style of filming, editing and music selected for the video make it a thoroughly enjoyable watch, highlighting the fun, amazing and, sometimes, incredibly daft things about skateboarding that we all love so much.
The video was uploaded and shared by several prominent YouTubers, including Jonny Giger and Garrett Ginner, which deservedly enabled it to reach over 190,000 viewers; an impressive feat for a freestyle video. Sadly, this meant that the video, at least in the case of the latter, was subdued by inane babble about “real tricks”, which is a real shame as the skating was superb throughout.
Tim Byrne – Something Else
Tim Byrne was one of the many freestylers who re-emerged with a full video part in 2016, having clearly spent the last few years honing his technical combos and watching Joe Moore videos to find the most unique way of using freestyle to move from one side of a skatepark to another. Hopefully, primo/rail ollies and kickflips will catch on because, as demonstrated in this video, they are fantastic!
Isamu Yamamoto – The Most Amazing 12 Year Old Freestyle Skateboarder!
We’ve said it many times before but Isamu Yamamoto is incredible to watch and continues to progress his own abilities on an almost daily basis. Taking some time out from destroying contests, Isamu teamed up with Kuma Films to showcase his freestyle (and kendama) talent in a slick and enjoyable edit.
Reece Archibald – Welcome to the Team
Dropping a welcome edit is always a fantastic way to showcase new talent but rarely is it done with the style and grace of Reece Archibald’s debut Never Enough video part. Reece shares his thoughts on the perception of skateboarding amongst the various communities and his own approach to freestyle, all whilst dropping a series of heavy-hitting tech bangers.
Jacob Whitt – Overthink
One of the top up and coming professionals out of the USA, Jacob Whitt combines an excellent mix of beautiful, technical and weird tricks in Overthink, all whilst managing to keep his shirt on; for the most part at least. Zach Whitt has done an excellent job filming this video with some classy editing from Jacob himself and a positive vibe throughout.
Pete Betti – Bustin Boards
Pete Betti teamed up with fellow professional freestyler and filmmaker Darryl Grogan to put together a classy promo for Bustin Boards. Pete brings his usual array of mind-boggling tech tricks to the mix, topping things off with some unbelievably truck transfers and one of the smoothest kickflip to 50/50s you’ll ever see
Which freestyle videos did you enjoy watching in 2016? Let us know about your personal freestyle video highlights from the last 12 months over on our Facebook page and if there are any sections coming up that you’re looking forward to!