Top 5 Special - CSC's Best of 2021

Dan Bunn

Following in the footsteps of the great Free Skate Mag and their forefathers, Quartersnacks, we've also decided to chuck in our two pence and bless you with our very own list of our favourite videos and skaters from 2021 in an extra special Top 5.

Obviously there's not much point regurgitating what has already been said by other people so we tried to mix things up with our picks and go for some more unconventional choices; so don't complain that Mark Suciu's not on the list because he's already won SOTY and he doesn't need me blowing smoke up his arse as well.

We've made lists of our Top 5 Videos, Video Parts, and Skaters of 2021, as well as hotlist of people to keep an eye out for in 2022. So, without further ado, let's get this thing rolling.

Christian Hart has always been a pioneer of cutting edge technology - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store

Top 5 Videos

Austin Bristow - 'Portions'

This is one of the few videos from the first part of the year that's actually stuck with me and that I've kept coming back to almost every week, although this could just be due to the fact we're constantly stuck in a never-ending cycle of the same videos thanks to Youtube's highly sophisticated algorithm. Either way, I like watching this video. It's very good.

The video starts out with some wonderful Kyle Wilson footage that helps to instantly grab your attention. Interestingly, the structure of the video can be seen to be proleptic of Palace's video from later in the year, with Kyle Wilson having first part and Charlie Birch having last part, and who could blame them? What better way is there to start a video than with Kyle Wilson floating down the street and casually soaring over just about anything that winds up in front of him, before Charlie Birch brings the video to a close with his uniquely scouse brand of high-speed, all-terrain assault that'll leave you quivering with excitement and very thoroughly satisfied.

But Kyle Wilson's just the tip of the iceberg as he's quickly followed up by the staggering selection of legends featured in the video, with UK greats like Danny Brady, Benny Fairfax, and Lucien Clarke appearing alongside the next generation of legends like Calvin Ligono, Myles Shankie, and Jarrad Carlin, as well as cameos from beloved foreign pros like Tom Snape, Chico Brenes, and Heitor Da Silva. The video, along with the expertly curated soundtrack, perfectly captures the ineffable coolness of London skateboarding, acting as incontrovertible proof that the scene is one of the best in the world right now - and everyone wants a piece of the pie.

Bronze 56k - 'The Reuben'

I've already spent ages harping on about why this video is one of my favourites of the year, so I'll keep this one brief. From Will Marshall skating to 'Bebey', Dick Rizzo's part being 90% banks, and the deepfake of Rob Dyrdek repping a Bronze tee; this video gets better the more you watch it, and I've watched it a lot. 

Each time you're lucky enough to understand one of the countless niche cultural references - whether it's a certain song from the soundtrack or one of the many random clips or animations that are scattered liberally throughout the video - it makes you feel like you're part of some kinda secret inner circle. A private club consisting of the few knowledgeable elite who were able to decipher the seemingly random stream of images bombarding your eyeballs. It makes you want to jump out of your chair and point at the TV like Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Once Upon A Time In Hollywood'. Or, you can just appreciate the sheer spectacle of the outlandish clips you're witnessing - that have been lovingly dredged from the murkiest recesses of the interwebs for your viewing pleasure - either way, it's pretty darn enjoyable and you're almost guaranteed to find your new favourite skater somewhere amidst the chaos.

Paul Coutherut - 'Hit Video'

Boasting a lineup of everyone's favourite New York skaters - like Nik Stain, Cyrus Bennett, and a whole lot of Max Palmer - alongside some lesser-known but still highly enjoyable homies, Pauly Coots' 'Hit Video' strikes the perfect balance of big names to draw you in, homie parts that make you want to keep coming back for more, and a healthy sprinkle of Max Palmer and Cyrus Bennett footage throughout to keep you glued to the screen. It basically feels like a jovial, VX equivalent of a Johnny Wilson video; and if that isn't enough to get you hyped then you probably need to watch more Johnny Wilson videos.

With a feel-good soundtrack so enjoyable that it'll have your mum asking for the track IDs - including bangers from the likes of Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen, and Bananarama, as well as mandatory reggae for Max Palmer's intro - the video is a joyous celebration of street skating with the homies that will have you yearning for those lengthy summer days. I'd take this over Yuto any day of the week.

Quasi - 'Grand Prairie'

Anyone who knows me will be pretty unsurprised to see a Quasi video on this list given that I'm a shameless Quasi fanboy, but that doesn't mean that this video doesn't deserve to be on the list, even if I am slightly biased.

Obviously the skating is incredible. That's a given when you have Bobby Dekeyzer, Gilbert Crockett, Dick Rizzo, and Jake Johnson on the team. But the reason Quasi videos are so good isn't because of the individual might of each of their tasteful and talented skaters, but rather the way all of the skaters compliment each other. Quasi's team has a level of cohesion that's hard to come by, with each skater being different enough to keep things interesting while still making sense when put together. The laser-like precision and lightning-fast flick of Bobby Dekeyzer is wildly different to the powerful, no-frills skating of Josh Wilson, or the carefully curated spot selection of Dick Rizzo, but when the three are put together it just makes sense. It's like lager and kebabs.

What's more, despite the edginess of Quasi's art direction the video has a light-hearted and humorous feel to it with excellent use of B-roll to capture the vibe of being on a trip with the squad, as well as some hilarious behind-the-scenes footage in the video's outro - but don't worry, you still get your fair share of spooky techno and smouldering stares in Bobby Dekeyzer's part. Gilby getting mauled by a dog; throwing bricks at glass display cases in an abandoned building; a kid on a scooter in full Jewish orthodox attire making eye contact with the camera before slamming face first into the floor - these are simple pleasures. The sheer ridiculousness of the Quasi boys hiding at a spot and secretly filming the Foundation team while giggling like school girls, before later stealing boards out of their van for the lolz, is so hilariously bizarre and pointless that you can't help but fall in love with them for it. This is cool skateboarding that eschews the ‘cool-guy’ mentality.

The Star Team - 'The iPod Video'

To be honest, I struggled to fill this last spot without picking another obvious one like the Palace or Limosine video, so I thought we might as well go with something a little bit different. While it's clearly not the 'best' video in terms of 'technical skating', it's definitely one of the most '2021' videos of 2021, and it's easily one of the most enjoyable - it's not everyday you hear a skate video transition from Skrillex, to Animal Crossing music, to the theme song of cult, existentialist mecha anime 'Neon Genesis Evangelion'.

The video is an extremely light-hearted interpretation of what a skate video can be, with weird skits, tomfoolery, and songs that are almost reminiscent of Jason Lee in 'Video Days' despite being inherently 'zoomer' in their execution. The skating itself also harkens back to simpler times, before the explosion of tech skating, when people would hit the streets with nothing but a video camera, a skateboard, and a large dose of creativity. The slight shakiness to the filming of seemingly spontaneous flatground tricks as the skater pushes down the middle of the road or 'sidewalk' wouldn't look out of place in Sub Zero's 'Real Life' or an old World Industries video. There's even a certain feeling of comfort and nostalgia in the iPod camera's poor resolution, as it shares the same fuzzy warmth as a VX, which helps you feel at home watching it in spite of its intrinsically modern context.

Yes, of course this isn't to the same level of incomprehensible, and inaccessible, 'Olympic-standard' tech skating like the likes of Yuto, Nyjah, or Shane O'Neill, but this is skating that actually makes you want to go and hit the streets with your mates. It's skating that doesn't make you feel bad about your own sketchy tricks or sloppy switch mongo push. Which is more important to you?

Top 5 Parts

Axel Berggren - 'Ricochet Med Berggren'

If there’s one word that describes this part - even if the word is now heavily loaded with extremely cringe connotations - it’s ‘fun’. Axel charges through the streets of Sweden, seemingly making it up as he goes along while the poor filmer, Love Öhling, frantically tries to keep up with him. The joy inherent in Axel’s skating oozes through in everything he does, from his bouncy push to his somewhat manic trick selection, it’s clear that he’s having the time of his life - even if he does nearly get hit by a train several times. This part is proof that, contrary to what you might find if you foolishly gaze upon the #skateboardingisfun tag on Instagram, skateboarding can be fun without also having to be ugly.

Simon Perrottet x OG.2000 - 'Swiss [P]'

A late entry to the list, released on 27th December, Simon Perrottet and OG.2000’s ‘Swiss [P]’ part offers a masterclass on how to make a cohesive skate video. The three songs are expertly mixed together - to the extent that you’d probably be gassed to listen to it ‘in da club’ - and help create a crescendo as the video progresses from the comparatively mellow start to the banger-filled conclusion, while the bizarrely good ‘Birthday Sex’ remix helps stop the video seeming too pretentious. This is a video you could put on while everyone's off their head at an afterparty and not get any complaints. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Bronze’s use of 3D animation in their videos, but this video stands out in its use of animation to help create a narrative for the video while still managing to feel somewhat unsettling.

Artistic direction aside, the skating is absolutely phenomenal with almost every trick featuring an unexpected twist or detail that magnifies the hype tenfold; like the seemingly innocent ollie up a stair set which transforms into a line where he ollies up the stairs, carves out of a speedy backside bigspin, and fakie hardflips back down the other side. The uniqueness of each clip is testament to his seemingly bottomless bag of tricks and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you try to guess what he’s gonna do next. Take notes everyone, this is how you do it.

Jordan Trahan - 'The Reuben' (starts at 15:21)

This part might be on the shorter side but almost every trick in it is pure brilliance. Each line is tastefully put together with simple tricks used to massive effect. This is zero-waste skateboarding at its finest. The tasteful simplicity of his line at 'White Ledges' in New York - in which he ollies over the rail onto the ledge, does a cheeky little nollie off of it, before doing a buttery heeflip back tail - encapsulates Jordan's elegant approach to skating and his ability to scope out the road less travelled in new and exciting ways while still demonstrating that he's an absolute beast when it comes to pop. Likewise, singles like his hardflip front nose - dripping with sauce like a bacon roll made by a heavy-handed Greggs employee - and no-comply back tail shuv further demonstrate his varied, and highly enjoyable, trick selection. He even makes an inward heel look good.

Rowan Davis - 'Civic Central'

Some combinations will never get old: coffee and cigarettes; bacon and egg; Peter Pan and Tinkerbell (Get it? Because they never grow up); but at the top of the list is hip-hop and ledge skating, and this part delivers a delightful serving of both. As you may be aware, I'm a sucker for a part filmed entirely at one spot, but this is up there with the best. Rowan rattles out every nose- and tailslide variation that’s worth doing, and even ones that maybe aren't worth doing, but he does them anyway and still makes them look bangin'.

There are some people who do good tricks and make them look bad; there are others who do bad tricks and make them look good; Rowan Davis, however, sits in a separate category of people who do really good tricks and make them look really good. The man’s trick selection is absolutely flawless - with a mastery of spin-in spin-out tricks that would make Karl Watson envious, if he wasn't so ridiculously nice - and the fact that he could literally do anything on a skateboard and make it look good makes it that much more bittersweet. Like, come on mate, leave something for the rest of us.

Matt Gottwig - 'Birds'

It's always nice when a part gives you a glimpse into a city that you don't often get to see - you've probably already noticed a distinct absence of California skating in this list, and yes, that's intentional - and Matt Gottwig takes us on an extremely thorough tour of Seattle in his 'Birds' part, hitting all kinds of weird and wonderful spots in weird and wonderful ways.

Matt starts the video off with a bang, efficiently handling a hectic downhill crook bash before stomping an impromptu kickflip (into another hillbomb) between two gawping pedestrians, but while you may expect this to set the tone for the video, this clip is actually somewhat of a red herring that simply demonstrates that this geezer can do it all. GX1000-style hillbombs, stairs, rails, gaps, ledges; Gottwig handles them all with style and ease, coming through with bangers that'll have you frantically trying to rewind the clip. From transforming a humble backside boardslide into a front noseblunt on the other side of the ledge, to a dizzying full cab switch 5-0 180 out, I guarantee that there's at least one trick in this part that you've never seen done before - and he does 'em good.

Top 5 Skaters

Kyle Wilson

I know we said we were gonna try focus on the less obvious choices for these categories, but it'd be basically impossible to talk about the top skaters of 2021 without talking about Mr. Stealyourboard. After first gaining recognition in Jenkem's 'REGULATE' series many moons ago, Kyle Wilson has firmly cemented himself as a household name this year after making appearances in countless videos, filming several full parts, and joining the pro roster for Palace; and it's pretty easy to see why he's so well-loved. The man just looks good on a skateboard, even when he's not coordinating his outfit to his shoes and his shoes to his deck.

Kyle's skating has an unparalleled floatiness to it that makes his board seem like a leaf gently drifting in the wind while he soars above it, calmly waiting for it to finish its rotation like a loving dog-walker giving their pooch all the time they need to curl out a perfectly formed turd. Rather than just using his pop to do the same five tricks over the same three barriers/ledges like Adrian Del Campo, Kyle's innovative eye for spots has opened up new lines and obstacles that had probably never even been looked at before, let alone actually skated.

The best part is, it seems Kyle knows exactly how good he is yet he still remains humble (having listened to his Bunt interview, it's pretty easy to tell he's a really sound, down-to-earth guy). His entire part in 'Beyond The 3rd Wave' feels almost like a victory lap as he leisurely cruises round various plazas, while the understated yet gangster music quietly says 'yep, I deserve all this hype' without even a whiff of smugness. You could almost imagine him throwing out a cheeky Queen Elizabeth style wave to his adoring fans mid-line, probably after doing a switch heelflip straight over a car, and he could still make it look good.

Jordan Trahan

I remember first falling in love with Jordan Trahan in 2016, after watching the ‘Firing Line’ from his 5BNY part, in which he ollies a bench lengthways before flying into a mach-10 NAC grind. A fairly simple line on paper - involving only three tricks: an ollie, a treflip, and a crooked grind - yet it’s this simplicity, coupled with the way in which it’s delivered, that adds to the line’s impact by helping to lend the tricks a sense of purity. Fast forward to now, and Jordan’s had one of the most productive years of his career after making the move to Chocolate and joining their legendary pro ranks, having a part in Chocolate’s latest full-length as well as footage in their tour video to Costa Rica, and delivering some of my favourite footage from one of my favourite videos of the year: Bronze 56k’s ‘The Reuben’. What I’ve been hoping for for years has finally arrived, and it’s an absolute fuckin’ delight.

Jordan’s inimitable blend of power and grace - coupled with his sublime trick selection which effortlessly blends no-nonsense street hammers, a unique approach to spots, and a lovely little sprinkling of powerful wallies and no-complies - places him firmly among the likes of Nik Stain as one of the lesser-appreciated style icons of this generation. In fact, Jordan is about the only skater that actually makes me wish I could no-comply (although there is absolutely no chance I’d be able to do them anywhere near as good as he does). He firmly removes the trick from the ‘illegal’ category and shifts it up into the ‘S-tier’ by doing them up and over benches, twirling 360 no-complies into manuals, and somehow even maneuvering a lesser-seen backside no-comply into a back tail shuv-it. This definitely ain’t the twinkle-toes, Instagram vlogger, trendy bullshit that’s besmirched the name of the no-comply in recent years, so Jordan gets a pass. That doesn’t mean that you do though.

Max Palmer

The secret’s out. Everyone knows Max Palmer’s the greatest skateboarder in the world.

The skate gods have indeed been generous this year, blessing us with countless morsels of Max footage, including a full part in the Limosine video, and the pièce de résistance, Pauly Coots’ ‘Hit Video’, which is basically 'Max Palmer: The Movie'.

Zach Baker has already lamented the loss of the bragging rights formerly associated with being in the secret club of Max Palmer appreciators (back before he had an Instagram fan account) on the Quartersnacks Reader’s Poll, and I’ve spent enough time over the years trying to explain to people the wonders of Max’s skating, so I’ll keep this one short and sweet (this is what I thought when I first started writing, it didn't end up being the case).

After spending the majority of his career festering in a weird, dingy corner of New York skating a pile of discarded metal and broken glass, the Lord of Rats has managed to find his way into the light, and you can now talk about Max Palmer without people asking: ‘who?’, or having to refer to him as ‘loose trucks Max’.

Max’s skating transcends the limited worldview of tight-trucked skaters, whose linear perception treats the approach to a trick, and skateboarding itself, as a straight line, and instead embodies a more feral approach to standing on a plank. Rather than a well-oiled machine, Max could be described as the Steve Irwin of skateboarding due to the way in which he attempts to wrangle the enraged, wild beast that is his skateboard - which features trucks that are held together by half a bushing, glue, and a dash of luck - under control, while hopefully landing some tricks along the way.

At times, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Max is some drunk homeless person who’s asked for a go on someone’s board after proclaiming ‘I used to be sponsored back in the day’, only to end up careening face first into the floor. But in an age where everyone and their nan can do buttery kickflip back tails, what’s wrong with a little sketchiness? A little sauce? A little je ne sais quoi?

Please, if you are yet to be enlightened by Max’s skating, I implore you: go watch 'Hit Video', or his part in 'Limosine', or his part in the 917 video, or any old Johnny Wilson video ('Sure' is a personal favourite), it doesn't matter, just watch him. Then loosen your trucks.

Victor Campillo

I'll let it slide if the talents of Victor Campillo have quietly slipped below your radar this year, but chances are you probably have seem him in some video or another, and when you did you probably thought: 'Fuck, who's this geeza?'. But whether or not you've been paying attention, Victor has been quietly assaulting the streets of Southern France, appearing in over 10 different videos including Ace's 'Turn Right' and the Hélas 'Paris' clip, as well as several full parts and a series of five videos which he helped film alongside Maceo Moreau - and I thought the French were meant to lazy?

Crass, Brexit-fuelled cultural stereotypes aside (for the most part), Vincent's skateboarding is delightfully French: it's tasteful, creative, refined, and powerful, yet with a wonderful sprinkling of non-conformity that'll keep you on your toes the entire time. Expertly weaving nose bonks and wallrides into lengthy lines alongside mind-boggling tech bangers; throwing a cheeky melon grab into a perfectly executed backside flip; manualling on top of a ledge then ollieing straight into a backside noseblunt at the end. It's like a rich and decadent boeuf bourguignon followed up with a side of extra garlicky escargot. Both are good on their own but you're not sure how they would go together, it seems a little weird but you're on holiday so fuck it, and somehow it just works (Disclaimer: creative license was used in this simile, who know if this combo's actually any good and apologies if any French people were offended in the process).

Victor is firmly in the same category as Lucas Puig for me, due to the fact that I physically cannot watch his footage without being overwhelmed by the desire to move to the South of France and give myself gout from gorging on wine, bread, meat, and cheese.

Will Marshall

Not gonna lie, it was a toss-up between Will Marshall and John Shanahan for this spot, but for me, Will wins based on the fact he's absolutely hilarious. 

You really can't argue with the appeal of Will's skating with his tasteful trick selection, clean pop, and gangster-ass style; it's skating for the ages. His Dime part featured some ludicrously tech bangers, like the absolutely mind-boggling ender, but this is tech skating with a cheeky personality - a far-cry from the mainstream standard of tech skating. Will's personality oozes through in his skating, even his gangster style seems like it's done slightly ironically, and the countless lifestyle hammers in the B-roll is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. The clip where he lobs a bowling ball, turns around to celebrate before the ball has even landed, and actually pulls off the perfect strike is the absolute pinnacle of B-roll.

However, probably the main reason he's on this list is because of his part in the Bronze video. More specifically, it's the song choice. The combination of Will's skating with 'Bebey - SN1 Mix', by Theophilus London and featuring Giggs, works so perfectly that you'll never be able to watch his skating again without hearing the bass line in the back of your head. It's like Cardiel skating to Bad Brains; it just makes sense.

Top 5 Skaters To Watch Out For In 2022

My fingers are basically bleeding now after trying to meet my own self-imposed, and unenforced, deadline so this section will definitely be short and sweet.

Shane Farber

This guy may already be on your radar after recently appearing in Mason Silva's SOTY trip video but I reckon 2022 is gonna be his year.

Noah Mahieu

This little shrimp has already been given the nod by ultra-legend Ben Powell in his 2021 Top 10 over on Free, and it's safe to say he's only gonna keep getting better as his prepubescent legs continue to develop.

Joseph Campos

One of the many talented alumni from Michael Nicholas' incredible 'Untitled' video, Campos has landed himself a spot on the FA team with some bangin' clips in their new video. Looking forward to seeing what he'll get up to in 2022, although seeing as he skates for FA he probably won't be doing much other than looking moody and smoking cigs.

Nick Matthews

Probably the oldest guy on this list, Nick's teased some mindboggling ads this year that hopefully we'll be seeing footage of in 2022. Fingers crossed he gets bumped up onto the am squad for Quasi too, my man's being slept on hard.

Nick Matthews backside smith against the grain from his Thrasher interview, shot by Mike Heikkila - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store
Photo: Nick Matthews backside smith grinds against the grain from his Thrasher interview, shot by Mike Heikkila

Nelly Morville

After being introduced to her in the Limosine video, it's safe to say I'm a big fan of Nelly. Fingers crossed we'll be getting some more footy from her this year.

That's enough chit-chat though. Make sure to let us know what your picks would've been in the comments below. Safe. 

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