The results are in: a time-capsule of 2023 skateboarding, as voted by QS readers. Some old favorites have returned to the rankings, and some new ones have emerged.
And yes, it should be stated, perhaps louder than in other years, that year-end rankings are an imperfect artform. Miles Silvas’ “City To City” part that would eventually land him Thrasher‘s S.O.T.Y. trophy premiered a few hours before voting for the QS Readers Poll closed (that didn’t stop him from getting some votes in those final moments though.) Yuto dropped his April part three days after voting closed. But we are committed to the belief that nobody wants to talk about 2023 after Christmas. And for a year when it felt like Skateboard Oscars Season™ began in August, we had to make the call. All those parts that missed the cutoff will be eligible for next year’s voting, same as years past.
The Best Skate Videos of 2023
The Best Video Parts of 2023
10. Dick Rizzo — HUF: Forever
After a brains-boggling four video parts from Dick Rizzo in 2023, it falls upon Greater New York’s natural resources officialdom and certain secret councils to assess the region’s remaining reserves of untapped cellar doors and diamond plate. For this aged year’s waning days, though, revel in the uncommon way this dude layers fluid movement over angular industrial objects and cold-cracked concrete, showcased to great effect in the inaugural HUF movie — blasting up and across lumped-up loading dock ledges (both ways even), zippering over corrugated steel steps, at times challenging conventionally understood physics, like when he takes that one loading dock corner the hard way around.
In a year when the Flushing grate ledge got hit up pretty hard, his backside lipslide to switch frontside k-grind stands out; he hits the high bar at the Forbidden Banks, with some of this year’s best clanks and zips supplementing the industrial beats and Yung Leonard Cohen soundings (go with the premiere version, in Huf ‘1T-KCUF’ fashion.) In an age of heavy turmoil, it’s a comfort knowing that there are Jersey dudes in Half Cabs out there taking the wallride to fantastical new places. — Boil the Ocean
9. Karim Callender — Johnny’s Vid
Let’s make one thing clear: I’m 35 years old. I can’t be doing shit like celebrating someone’s socks-to-t-shirt color coordination on the internet. I’m not here to talk about pants, and hopefully you’re not either, but I’d be omitting a good pertinent chunk of Karim’s charm if I didn’t at least give the fits a nod first. They’re a part of the whole.
He showed up as a promising 5Boro jit many years ago: 5-paneled, boardslide-to-5050ing big rails to then… kinda fade into obscurity. Years later, out of nowhere, there he is genuflecting in the middle of Black Business with a t-shirt on his head: grown up (at least enough for facial hair) and hyped.
Couple years, couple Limo parts, a lipslide on 6th Avenue that’s burned into our brains and here we are: well into the Karim Callender renaissance. There is satisfaction in seeing this city kid get good here and being paid to get good all over elsewhere too in a way that is genuine and original: to himself and to the city that made him who he is.
It’s hard not to share in the good time on display whenever Karim is on screen in anything, and his appearance in Johnny’s Vid is no exception. There is a vicarious joy. We’re hyped because he’s hyped — on the roll up, after the make, when someone else does something, when food has arrived. He exudes such a genuine appreciation of life and skateboards and friends and shit that I, for one, can’t help but feel eerily positive about stuff, too. Again, I’m 35, and there’s all kinds of stuff that I’m compelled to hate and hate on. Things, to me, are generally bad. But Karim and his skating act as a reminder that every day is at least a little good and everything we have, for as long as we get to have it, is pretty much a goddamn gift. I like, actually mean that. Pretty over-the-top response to a guy doing a nosegrind 180 in a pink beanie and Blazers, full ash grey sweatsuit, black t-shirt over the hoody, but you know…I don’t know. You know? — Zach Baker
8. John Shanahan — DC: “Double Up“
Imitation is a form of flattery, but it’s also flattening. Fortunately, that’s not what Shanahan nor, for his part, Brian Panebianco, the editor of “Double Up,” is up to. There’s a conscientious depth to the 90s aesthetic they embody. They’ve got the cinched swishies and sideways strap backs, sure, but they also understand that what animated the era in the first place is a certain progressive philosophy of action against the odds.
“You’ve got to make it happen,” goes the bridge of “Fast Life,” the well-chosen second song in “Double Up,” and throughout the part’s seven minutes, Shanahan seems to respond, “Bet.” Landmarks are leveraged for their long list of ABDs, and with the help of propped tiles and other feats of creative engineering, new levels are reached at old spots.
There’s something inspirational about all the effort. Like, I see that taped-together runway covering the grates leading up to the bump-to-bar on Crosby, and realize that whatever sign I’m waiting on to help me overcome the impediments in my way is mine to bring. Recognition of that capability awakens in me a quiver of inner confidence, a belief that the best is still ahead, and come to think of it, what’s more pre-2000s than that? — Christian N. Kerr
7. John Shanahan — DGK: “Double Down“
You want to be where John Shanahan skates – from Midtown to Muni, a cutty parking garage to FDR – wherever he’s at, let’s go. It’s at Muni, in “Double Down,” where the part crescendos with, among other tricks, a nollie inward heel off a propped-up tile over the can. The onlookers roar in approval. That wasn’t regular cheering — that was audible proof that everyone just saw something really goddamn good.
Shanahan had a prodigious, well-documented year with nearly 15 minutes of footage, according to Skate Folio. “Double Down” is where he peaked. But because we shouldn’t mistake quantity for quality, there’re the details from the part, too. That fakie shuv-it switch crook half-cab, pop shuv-it nosegrind revert line is made up of wonderfully interlocking tricks; that front crook fakie at the parking garage is proof of a skater scouring for spots. And it’s really hard not to love that kickflip drop-drop-drop. Sneakily gnarly and geometrically difficult, it’s the type of high-skill skate rat shit that exemplifies Shanahan’s skating. Just imagine being there. — Mike Munzenrider
6. Curren Caples — “For Vans“
Skateboarding’s collective memory has a tendency to get stuck. That’s not surprising, given we can only understand skateboarders and their skating through the bits and bites of media we’re given. It’s why it can feel like an affront to the senses when a pro switches up their fit, or we think someone’s “fallen off” if they haven’t put out footage in a while. We only know these people via projections of themselves from very particular moments in their lives.
For the majority of his career, Curren Caples was seen by the skateboarding public as just some sun-kissed surfer kid. Another Flip Skateboards prodigy that was good, sure, but one who didn’t seem to really want it — whatever it was. Maybe that was due to his effortless style or lack of clips in Propeller. No matter the case, it was all bullshit.
With “Curren Caples for Vans,” we got it and then some. This is an indisputable, career-defining video part. It’s broken Caples free from that tired surfer-kid memory. Now, here he is anew, just as he’s always been: fucking ripping. — Cole Nowicki
5. Jack O’Grady — Pass~Port: “SQUISH“
In his latest, “SQUISH” — a nickname-namesake Pass~Port and Thrasher co-production filmed in Australia, L.A. and Paris — Squish attacks. The spazzy riffs of Australia’s The Birthday Party and The Systematics soundtrack a punchy solo part edited by Pass~Port founder, Trent Evans, and O’Grady himself, jammed with visual slices that encourage the childlike glee of watching O’Grady burn down the world.
O’Grady’s style isn’t controlled chaos, but more a perfectly executed smash and grab crime, all calculated, frenetic terror. He’s gapping out farther and faster into grinds from narrower takeoffs and double-kink rails. He’s ollieing driveways mid-hill bomb. And the question isn’t why he’s skating rails into dirt landings, but how long until he rides away? — José Vadi
4. Tom Knox — “Atlantic Drift: Recurring Dream No.15“
To describe Tom Knox’s “Recurring Dream” as “deja vu” is misleading. Sure, Tom and Jake Harris’ past work looms large throughout the part (given their fifteen year shared history, how could it not?), but Tom doesn’t just retread old ground.
He forgoes classic London spots for the narrow and the (even more) weathered. If he’s not dodging human shit in some nondescript alleyway, he’s careening down a never-ending cascade of kinked brick banks, switch; if he’s not using his impossibly quick feet to 360 flip or frontside shove it sets with no run-up, he’s in Mallorca, filming multi-tier lines without bothering to set up between tricks. All of this culminates with the throw-down ollie at Lloyds, the part’s crown jewel. Tom floats through the air for twice as long as he spends rolling up to the trick.
Tom Knox’s approach varies across projects, but the magic never fades: the footwork is always nimble, the spots are always crusty, the resulting video part is always full of subtleties slowly unfurling with each viewing. Tom and Jake are still finding new ways to captivate the viewer, prompting a feeling akin to rediscovering your favorite band or catching up with an old friend. Eleventh Hour had it, Vase had it, and “Recurring Dream” has it.
Shit, maybe that’s the relived experience they’re referring to in the title. Nevermind, I get it now. — Andrew Murrell
3. Yuto Horigome — Nike SB: “Yuto in Tokyo“
Yuto set out to film a part in his hometown of Tokyo, Japan against warnings that his post-Olympic celebrity would make it even more difficult in an already notoriously difficult city for filming skateboarding. Knowing this makes the nonchalance of this finished product hit even harder.
At first, the big marble sets and indoor rails set to EDM teased me into focusing on these quick hit-and-run set pieces, but after a few watches, I felt as if Yuto and filmer/editor Braden Gonzales were playing with our expectations of the Olympic Gold contest skater. I can’t recall seeing Yuto ever simply backside 5050, a trick he does at least three times in this part. To me, it was an unexpected trick and did the duty of numbing the barrage of tech tricks on a smaller hubba that came next. It wasn’t until a rewatch that I realized how ridiculous it is to nollie back nose blunt and nollie heel noseslide the same ledge.
Cinematic rain clears into bright pink cherry blossoms and dapples of sunshine, the soundtrack shifts, and Yuto unleashes. Out ledges get lit up – switch – and we are treated to the brain and back-bending NBDs we are used to, with an ender out of a video game. Toss in Yuto’s flagrant puffer jackets, honest Instagram mission statement, and endearing interactions with security, and it all adds up to someone unblinded by Olympic shine. Dude’s a skater. — Adam Abada
2. Pedro Delfino — Vans: “Road To Nowhere“
The quest for never-been-done tricks is typically done in tiny increments. Skaters contemplate ever more complicated means of etching their name into the annals of skateboarding: pondering what additional spins of board or body might land wheels-side-down under their feet, carving out their own small piece of a spot’s legacy with a little spoon.
And then Pedro Delfino shows up with some dynamite and blows the whole thing wide open.
We’ve come to expect high-speed death defiance from Pedro. Steep banks, second story wallrides, switch speed wobbles, and, yes, unsettling head slams are his stock and trade. Thrilling, for sure, but not unprecedented.
But to reimagine the possibilities of legendary destination like the Pyramid Ledges? Now that’s how you get to the top. — Pete Glover
1. Cyrus Bennett — HUF: Forever
It is easy to picture Keith Hufnagel cracking a wry smile at the almost built-in-his-image line-up of Forever. From “legacy” riders Brad Cromer and Dick Rizzo to the likes of Nick Matthews and Mason Silva — there’s power and stoicism running through the ensemble, which ends on a career highlight part from Cyrus Bennett.
After a prelude of sweating through shirts and clinging onto haywire makes, Cyrus fittingly begins and mostly remains in Huf’s home city of New York. There’s a deftness to his technical tricks peppered by buckshot moments: popping onto a tall brick wallride, hitting a rail hip-height above the sidewalk, and the crash of cellar doors. The Sombrero is knocked back in the timeline due to the shocking ease of a noseblunt fakie; returning were we started the part in the city’s downtown to wrap up, he rolls away from the Courthouse Drop and into the smiling embrace of his friends.
Seeing Cyrus skate New York feels every bit as new and exciting as it did during “The Most Productive Crew’s” halcyon days and Forever — being one of his few projects not helmed by Johnny Wilson or 917/Limo’s Logan Lara — offers something of an objective lens for his contribution to the city’s skateboard history. Last summer, speaking for a QS interview, Cyrus told me that “sitting around hurts my body.” It makes more sense with every video part. — Farran Golding