Top 20 X Games skateboarders of All Time
The Top 20 X Games Skateboarders of All Time
Since the Extreme Games started in 1995, the world's best skateboarders across Vert, Park, Street, MegaRamp and video, have competed and pushed skateboard progression at the X Games. Two decades later, X Games has progressed alongside skateboarding to the point that each event has been touched by the elite greats of skateboarding. Here, XGames.com presents the top 20 X Games skateboarders of all time, spanning from 1995 to the present.
Wes Kremer, 2014 Thrasher Magazine's Skater of the Year, is a street skater's street skater. He's a low-key ripper who doesn't brag or boast or even use social media -- he still uses a flip phone to keep life simple. One thing that is far from simple is the bag of big, burly technical tricks that has become his calling card over the years, and the deciding factor in his silver medal win for his X Games Real Street part in 2014. It's Kremer's humility, approachability and his loyalty to his San Diego friend's skateboard brand, Skate Mafia, that make him such a fan favorite. Despite living the life of a respected skate pro, which includes a best-selling pro model shoe from DC, Kremer chooses to live at home with his parents when not traveling the globe.
Riley Hawk might be the son of the most famous skateboarder on Earth (Tony Hawk), but at the end of the day, Riley is a self-made man, gaining success on his own merits. He worked long and hard to be added to the rosters of each and every one of his sponsors, rejecting even a secure slot on his dad's board brand, Birdhouse, to skate for Baker Skateboards, who turned him pro in December 2013. Hawk started skating at age 3 and never stopped. He has made three X Games appearances but has yet to medal. Following Riley's first invitation to X Games Austin in 2014, Tony Hawk said, "It's surreal. Even when Riley was getting substantial recognition and gaining success in skating, I never imagined that he would compete in X Games. It just seemed too far off his radar. But he deserved to be invited based on his skills, and I am proud that he is up to the challenge."
Brandon Westgate is the one of the most raw and powerful street skaters on the scene today. He skates with such ferocity that his talents are often compared to Superman. Westgate's blue-collar upbringing (working with his father as a cranberry farmer in Wareham, Massachusetts), helped cultivate his work ethic and approach to skateboarding. It's that drive that earned him Transworld Skateboarding Magazine's 2009 Rookie of the Year as well as the fan favorite award for his only X Games appearance in Real Street in 2011.
Alexis Sablone broke onto the skate scene with her memorable section in "P.J. Ladd's Wonderful, Horrible Life," but that was just the beginning for her skate career. It turns out, Sablone could skate competitions pretty well, even though by her own admittance, she has "always kinda hated them." From 2009 to 2012, Sablone earned X Games medals in her first four appearances. Then in 2015, she returned to X Games Austin to earn the gold medal in Women's Skateboard Street. But there's much more to Sablone than skating. She recently finished her master's degree at MIT with a focus on architecture after graduating from Columbia University in 2008. So throughout all of these X Games medals, she also has been juggling school full time.
All terrain skater Chris Senn will forever hold a special place in our hearts as the first gold medalist in Skateboard Park at an X Games event. In 1995, Senn was named Thrasher Magazine's Skater of the Year for his incomparable skills on tranny and in the streets. That same year, at the inaugural Extreme Games in Newport, Rhode Island, Senn took gold and left an indelible mark on the event for years to come. Senn went on to medal many more times in the X Games before leaving competitive skating behind. He currently resides in Hawaii, where he's a tattoo artist at Eastern Classics Tattoos. And more than two decades after his introduction into the X Games, he continues to shred like a champ.
Legendary all terrain skater, Mike Vallely, has made only four X Games appearances (most recently in 2015's Real Street series), but he is widely regarded as a pioneer in skateboarding. The skateboarding icon was born and raised in Edison, New Jersey, and he is often credited with being one of the early innovators of street skateboarding in the 1980s, alongside Mark Gonzales, Natas Kaupus and Tommy Guerrero. He currently owns and operates Street Plant Skateboards with his daughters, and won the fan favorite vote for his Real Street part in 2015.
Known as the Brazilian barnstormer, Pedro Barros, the unofficial crown prince of Florianopolis, Brazil, is the most entertaining skater to watch in any discipline. Barros can skate any terrain, as was showcased in his 2015 Vans "Propeller" part, but having vert ramps and bowls in his backyard for his entire life has made the skating transition seemingly effortless for him. He's so comfortable, self-aware and adaptive on his board that it's not uncommon for him to lose his baseball hat while going upside down on a 540, continue his run, lap back around and grab it on the next pass as if it were nothing. Barros won X Games Park gold as a rookie in 2010. He was the first rookie to win Skateboard Park gold since Ryan Sheckler did it in 2003. He currently has nine X Games Park medals under his belt (six gold, three silver).
At age 17, Tom Schaar has already made eight X Games appearances, won five medals and is on pace to be one of the most accomplished and winningest X Games skaters ever. The Cardiff, California native's list of accomplishments before he has even graduated high school are so unbelievable that it's comical. From being the youngest skater to land a 900 in December 2011 to landing skateboarding's first 1080 air, Schaar is on track to break more records and win more medals than most skaters could ever dream of.
Guy Mariano was the first child star of street skating, making his debut at age 13 in Powell Peralta's 1989 classic video "Ban This." By 14, he was one of the flagship skaters on Blind Skateboards, alongside Mark Gonzales and Jason Lee. He eventually left for Girl Skateboards and went on to have epic parts in every Girl video ever released. But like any child star who experiences fame at a young age, he found himself dabbling more in excess than skate success for many years. In 2005, he returned to the world of professional skateboarding with a comeback part in Lakai's "Fully Flared" that shocked everyone. He followed it up with the final part in Girl/Chocolate's 2012 "Pretty Sweet," a part so heavy that it nearly earned him Thrasher's Skater of the Year. Last year, Mariano left Girl Skateboards with long time teammate, Eric Koston. They are set to launch their new company, Numbers, in December, with a focus and dedication to the core skateshop market that was so prevalent in their youth. Mariano has appeared in only one X Games, the 2013 Real Street contest, and he won gold. You can't beat that batting average.
Aaron "Jaws" Homoki
Aaron "Jaws" Homoki's skating is not for the faint of heart or weak-kneed. His father once told him, "Make sure you do at least one thing every day that scares you." And he has honored his dad's words by looking for skate spots in a manner unlike any skater in history. Jaws was mainly a transition skater when he popped on the scene, but quickly became regarded as the skater most likely to jump off insane gaps, stair sets and buildings. For Jaws' own protection, Tony Hawk took him under his wing and turned him pro in July 2011 for Birdhouse Skateboards. He has spent the past six years forcing skaters to watch his video parts through their fingers in fear. Although Jaws has only medaled in two X Games appearances, he'll forever be remembered as one of the craziest daredevils to ever ride a skateboard.
There was never any doubt Curren Caples, a Ventura, California-based Flip Skateboards pro, was going be a great X Games athlete, but many assumed that since he was the son of former pro surfer Evan Caples, it would be in surfing. But according to Caples, he didn't even get into surfing until later in life. Skating on the other hand, has been a part of his life since he was 4, and he has been sponsored and competing for as long as he can remember. Despite all those years of experience and four medals in nine X Games appearances, he admits he gets very nervous before contests and it usually disrupts his flow. "I'm probably the worst athlete," Caples says. "I don't really train. I kind of just go with the flow and skate. I'm just nervous and hope I land the first three tricks of my run. It sets the tone for the rest of your run."
Eric Koston, the 1996 Thrasher Skater of the Year, is perhaps one of the most respected street skaters of all time, and his five medals in his 15 X Games appearances made him a fan favorite in the early years of the event. Although Koston has not skated in X Games since 2013, he continues to release video parts, including his latest part in Nike's 2016 "Chronicles 3," which shows he's still at the top of his game. Don't be surprised if Koston releases new footage when he and his long-time former Girl teammate, Guy Mariano, launch their new company, Numbers, in December.
Contests and medals do not determine greatness -- a skater's full body of work along with the respect of his peers decides how one is remembered. Daewon Song, 40, is the antithesis of a contest skater, but he will go down in the history books as one of the most technical street skating wizards of all time. His video parts have been the most awe-inspiring and progressive of every era. And thanks to the Real Street contest format, where skaters compete by submitting a minute of skate footage, Song now owns an X Games bronze medal. He might not be a fully decorated X Games athlete, but he is one of the all-time greats in technical street skating.
In 2004, now veteran pro and owner of Primitive Skateboards, Paul Rodriguez had never won a pro contest. He was a young gun without the nickname P-Rod, and his famous comedian father, Paul Rodriguez Sr., disapproved of his career choice. Yet Rodriguez insisted that his dad come to X Games to watch him compete. His father proved to be his good-luck charm, and Rodriguez went on to win gold that day, followed by seven more medals in his next 14 X Games appearances. In the 13 years since that first win, P-Rod has released numerous video parts, is a vested member of the Nike SB team, and possesses full legend status among his skate peers.
Bucky Lasek has been killing it on a skateboard ever since his bike was stolen at age 12. In 1998, the Baltimore native quit his job at an auto body shop and moved to California to pursue skateboarding full time, and his life changed forever. Since then, Lasek has become the most decorated vert skater in X Games history, with eight gold and 14 medals total. Overall, Lasek has 20 medals in 23 appearances. And at age 43, Lasek was the oldest invited skateboarder at X Games Austin 2016, but he says he's nowhere near the end of his career.
Ryan Sheckler might be one of the most popular skateboarder in X Games history, thanks in part to his MTV reality show, "Life of Ryan," which ran for three seasons and earned him millions of mainstream fans. But for a legion of core skateboarders, his skateboarding is his greatest accomplishment and it is video parts, such as Plan B's "True," that will go down in the history books. Sheckler started competing in the CASL (California Amateur Skateboard League) when he was 6, and by the age of 13, he had already turned pro. In 2003, Sheckler, at 13, became the youngest gold medalist in X Games history, a record he still holds. Ryan has won seven medals in 17 X Games appearances.
From an early age, the skateboard world has been fortunate enough to watch Nyjah Huston grow up before their eyes, tagging along on his journey to his rightful place in the skateboarding Hall of Fame. In 2006, Huston earned the title of being the youngest athlete to compete in X Games history, when he was only 11. (He's now the second-youngest competitor of all time.) Fast forward a decade, Huston now has 12 X Games medals to his name. He has medaled in his past 10 X Games Skateboard Street starts -- a success rate untouched by anyone else in skateboarding. It has been remarkable to have watched Huston go from being a contest machine coached by his father to one of the most respected street skaters of the modern age, producing some of the heaviest video parts in recent history. And it's only getting better from here.
The entire skateboard world knew that Bob Burnquist was something special when he arrived in the U.S. via Brazil in the mid 1990s and began riding for Antihero Skateboards. His abilities were so pure, humble and progressive that when asked by Thrasher Magazine if he could spin 540s, his response was, "Which way?" Those two words foreshadowed a 20-plus year career full of unprecedented and unparalleled switch stance skating on every terrain that will forever go unchallenged. No one else in skateboarding has grinded a rail into the Grand Canyon, done a loop switch, or used a moving helicopter as an obstacle. At age 40, Burnquist holds the record for the most medals in X Games history with 30 total in 25 X Games appearances, and he is the only athlete to compete in all 25 X Games summer events. He has 13 consecutive Skateboard Big Air medals, and he is also the first skater in the world to land the 900 on the MegaRamp.
If there were a tough man award in skateboarding, Danny Way would win it, hands down. One of the few skaters to ever receive Thrasher Magazine's Skater of the Year twice, Danny Way is a true all terrain skater. He's also the skateboarder who helped to pioneer MegaRamp skating, and was integral in introducing the discipline to X Games competition. Way has always been regarded as one of the greatest of all time by both his peers and fans, but that sentiment was amplified when Way began performing death-defying stunts at the end of the 1990s, including jumps out of helicopters, long-distance jumps and a skateboard long jump over the Great Wall of China in 2005. Way returned to X Games for Skateboard Big Air in 2008, suffering one of the most horrific crashes in MegaRamp history. Still, he got back up, insisted on taking every run of the contest and won silver for his efforts. Last year, Way partnered with the "World of X Games" to continue pushing his quest for high air beyond his limits.
Since turning pro for Powell Peralta in 1982 at age 14, Tony Hawk has been widely regarded as the greatest skateboarder of all time. As the most popular skater in the world, Hawk's contributions to the culture of skateboarding for the past 35 years as both a global ambassador of goodwill and an innovator within the sport are unparalleled. He has even pushed a skateboard inside of the White House. Although Hawk hasn't officially competed at X Games since 2003, there are few names more synonymous with the event. Having medaled every year he competed, Hawk was a vocal supporter of the event from the beginning. Hawk's most defining X Games moment came in 1999 during the Vert Best Trick competition, when he became the first person ever to land the 900, a trick he had been trying for 13 years. Since then, Hawk has gone on to become an international sensation both on and off his board. And in the spirit of giving back to the community, The Tony Hawk Foundation has given over $1.7 million to over 100 skatepark projects around the country, with plans to donate nearly the same amount every year.