🔴 Top Ten Of 2022

Here we are again casting a somewhat sagacious eye over Free Skate Mag’s 2022 YouTube output. With only ten to pick from a potential eighty-six uploads, inevitably plenty of amazing videos are missing from this list.
There’s no judgment intended there, everyone making skate videos in whatever capacity is a hero/heroine in my eyes and part of the lifeblood that stops skateboarding turning into the boring, pedestrian, self-parody which is always just around the corner. Spot hunters, fish eye wranglers, keyboard pounders – you are all rulers.
With that caveat out of the way: here are my personal favourite ten videos of 2022 that come with a little red ball at the start; rather than a demonic goat head-butting its way through the title card. There’s no particular rhyme or reason as to the logic behind their selection beyond the fact that I’ve watched each of these clips more than the other ones. To me, that is good enough.
Masks off, heads down, record buttons depressed: I can’t wait for 2023’s crop.

– Ben Powell

Jura – The Alibi

Any video part coming out in 2022 that starts with an out of focus fish-eye shot of somebody switch crooking over a shit version of the Flushing ledge/grate obstacle in a puffa jacket is going to be dope. And when I say ‘dope’ I mean actually effortlessly cool and gangster like XXXL sweatpants John Igei at Pier 7 or Stevie at peak Love. Lot of people trying to front like they can run video parts almost completely composed of ledge tricks without appearing to understand the responsibility that decision brings. Luckily for him (and us) Juan comes from regal stock and carries the weight of his classically trained Madrid forebears with him throughout.
If you’re clueless about skate culture then you probably won’t understand that the final trick in this part is a direct reference to the vintage output of fellow Madrid ledge executioner Jesus Fernandez. Juan is a disciple however, so when he fakie hardflips into fakie crooks – just know that he’s doffing his cap to Jesus doing that same move on the Colon plaza bench in a random Mosaic bearings montage from about twenty years ago.
Do you need more reasons why this is one of my top ten picks from Free’s output this year? Okay – here you go. Juan’s nickname ‘Jura’ was given to him by some deep Madrid graff head back when he was a prepubescent bombing trains. And we’re not talking about a 14-year-old drawing cocks on his schoolbooks here either: if you’re out painting trains at that age then you’ve got the switch crook single trick pass forever.
Next up, essential to any ledgetarian worth their weight in Pupeki’s is having the right outfit. Ever since Kareem Campbell did that line in Twenty Shot in the black Guess denim with the knee high nollie flip on flat followed by the magic 5.0 that pops out mid ledge, the rules have been clear. If you’re filming a ledge-based section, with hip hop accompaniment, and you want it to be tasteful, then you need to post several fits: all of which need to complement what you’re doing.
Jura glides effortlessly from SF Rob Welsh/Puzzle-era Tony Brossard sweat suits to hi-vis orange Palace combats/Paramedic uniforms. Shit, he even throws in a Blokes-approved denim and tight polo shirt number for a quick switch heel. Basically he’s as equally at home on the terraces necking pints as he is leaning on a Jeep in North Philly. Exquisite Y Control.
Finally, for those still unconvinced of this VX masterpiece’s righteous place on this (albeit completely subjective) top ten list, surely the fact that the dopest skate filmer in the world (don’t argue) Brian Panebianco co-signed this with his backache is the final nail in the coffin? Well that, and the fact that Jura casually chucks in a backside flip down a fuck off set of stairs right after lighting the fuse on two almighty sticks of ledge dynamite set to House music.
The dude fucking kills it. Stop crying.


Let’s get this out of the way first so I can feel free to chat more shit. This guy has got a dome and a half. He’s a good-looking man 100% but fuck me, that’s hella skull. Quite possibly his cranial capacity is the reason why he’s so incredibly good at skateboarding, n’est-ce pas?Anyway…
How the hell is anyone filming a trick at Trocadero without getting arrested, mugged or dragged into shooting a wedding photo for a random family of Germans? I’ve walked through there at 5am, at 2pm and at 11pm and it is ALWAYS teeming with bellends wanting to shoot their ‘unique’ insta photo and/or guys trying to sell you Chinese plastic shite representing the thing you can see right in front of you. The opening fakie flip in this section is good enough on its own, but knowing how insanely hectic and well-guarded that set of stairs is, just makes it even more incredible. Good as fuck.
Moving on, this is a handsome French man blasting through the streets. Don’t let that comfy Womack and Womack track kid you – he’s tanking it. I have to respect anyone straight nollieing over hunks of concrete too – that’s as rare as it is because it’s basically impossible to nose ollie anything higher than a little traffic cone unless you’ve been smoking PCP.
I loved the backside nosebluntslide on the kerb too – it’s weird how it’s cooler to do it on an obstacle like that now, isn’t it? I mean Matt Hensley invented the trick on kerbs so it makes sense as both cultural allusion and an of-the-moment manouvre. Either way, I’d rather see one on a kerb than on a 98-stair handrail but that’s probably because I’m a jaded, fat, old prick.
I’m not sure about the shots of Amelien in bed peppered throughout this. Is it suggesting that he’s being haunted by skateboarding in his sleep in a general sense? Or just by this section? Is it really his bed or is it a stunt bed?
Have the diazepam I’m taking for plantar fasciitis kicked in? Who knows…
Moving on, like a weary pensioner trudging through glue, and we arrive at the strangely paced slam section midway through this brilliant video. There are loads of falls in it where random infants would start crying in the background because they don’t understand why the skateboard man is sliding through pigeon shit on their neck. “Is he dead mummy?”
Happily, Amelien survives this collection of nasty, angular misfortunes and powers through with, what I guess is the second song of this short but ballistic part.
There are a bunch of really, really heavy tricks in this final bit, not least the 5050 on the hubba with the massive ‘you will literally die’ drop on the side which is giving me anxiety to watch even now. The noise of the grind makes it even worse too – sounds like it’s been waxed up with spit or something. Terrifying.
Is Amelien the first person to get a trick on the Flushing ledge on steroids that’s become a hot spot too? You know the massive chunky ledge over what looks like a mini football field’s worth of grass that he nollie crooks in this? It might’ve been in one of those Euro Vans edits previously but I feel like Amelien got in first.
It must feel amazing to lock in like that and watch the grass beneath you though. Proper buzzing. I dig this dude a lot. If I was attempting to sum him up in a lazier but more succinct way, I might say that he reminds me of a mixture of Mark Frolich and Rowan Zorilla, only French and on Rave Skateboards.
Big knucks all round lads.

Gabriel og Bjarne

This is one of those videos where you’re already certain it’s going to be brilliant just off the thumbnail. Look at the spot. Look at the form of the backtail. Look how Norwegian it is. Look who filmed it: basically, this is in any thinking European’s top shelf immediately. Has Pekka ever made a video that isn’t sick? His name is as much a guarantee of enjoyment as Ty Evan’s name is a guarantee of superfluous chest angles and Savile-copters.
In many ways Norwegian skaters have it pretty hard – it’s freezing a lot of the time, there’s only one city (Oslo) with more than a million inhabitants, which necessarily limits urban architecture to a degree and, perhaps most pertinent to skateboarding come-ups, there’s literally no point trying to get known by skating handrails because Kevin Baekkel has already 5050’d them all.
As a result, the likes of Gabriel Bjørsvik and Bjarne Tjøtta have had to fall back on simply being absolutely fucking amazing at skating everything.
Having laid out some of the hardships facing the Norwegian skateboard scene, it’s also worth pointing out the positives too. As a country with heavy snowfall for at least 4 months of the year, Norwegian skate videos tend to have lots of footage with heaps of slowly melting ice piled up in the background.
This is massively the case here and made me chuckle thinking of the kind of shit people in the UK and the East Coast of the US like to trot out on the regs. “Oh it’s so hard to skate here, it’s so cold, etc, etc”
Cut to these two blasting lines with nothing more than a pair of Big Boys and a beanie to protect them from the clearly sub-zero temperatures.
Equally, Norway does have a dearth of massive city space like London or New York but it’s also a hugely wealthy country so, going on Pekka’s videos at least, there seems to be constant construction happening, resulting in mad amounts of new weird spots. The flipside is that whilst Oslo, (similar to Lisbon minus the sub-zero temperatures) seems to have a ton of amazing new spots, they almost always get built on the crustiest fucking surfaces ever. There are so many tricks in this where the run-out intervenes and pitches both of them to the floor. Not that either skater seems to care in their perma-smiling, uber-healthy personal universes though.
Plenty of standouts trick-wise: I loved the bluntside to fakie 50-50 on the kerb, the backtail on the literal mountain of gravel with a run out directly into a plate glass window and the kickflip manny down a 5000-year-old slab of stone directly into an ice field. Californians must watch these Free videos sometimes in a state of total stupefied bewilderment. “Dude, what is this guy doing? Why is he riding out across a frozen lake? Is this lit? I’m confused…”
Another great feature of all Norwegian videos, going back decades to the 1990s output of Jørgen Johannessen, is the omnipresence of Rådhuset, or ‘Oslo Town Hall’ to the less tall, Nordic and handsome amongst us.
This spot is Oslo’s version of Southbank or MACBA I suppose and has been a proving ground for a very specific type of hyper-pop-off-marble tech skating for a long, long, time. Spot continuity like that is always hugely culturally important so I was stoked to see both of these dudes add their notches to this hallowed ground. Backside 360 ollieing over that huge block of concrete like he does is nuts.
Aside from everything I’ve already said, here are three more reasons why I’ve picked this one: the filming, editing and music selection is, as always with Pekka, absolutely cock-on. Secondly, everyone looks mad healthy and happy, which has infused me with hope after two months of freezing my bollocks off in the UK and thirdly, as this is a Vans supported duo, you get the pleasure of watching people rip without constantly feeling compelled to check the resell value of their shoes on Stock X. Flott arbeid mine herrer!

Much Quiet

Vans have been busy this year; on Free’s YouTube alone there have been three team video releases, so it was difficult to select the one to include here.
I almost went for the Full Circle clip that dropped to accompany the Vans x Free Half Cab but I figured that might look a bit suspect (despite that clip being banging too). Instead I’ve picked the longer and most varied of the three because there’s plenty to say and, rather than being a documentation of a shoe-holiday, ‘Much Quiet’ functions as a cohesive team video in the more traditional sense. As such, this commentary is more of a blow-by-blow account as it happens on screen, rather than a considered, economic morsel of wit (lol) like with the shorter clips featured.
The editor and main filmer Sirus is well known for his sterling fish-eye work, which is evident throughout this. There were numerous times during repeat watches of Much Quiet where I found myself muttering, ‘Is this referencing Speed Freaks?’ This query was given more weight when Quentin Boillon decided to half kickflip down the Dome double-set mid-way through, a trick first documented in Jim Thiebaud’s Speed Freaks section. But I digress…
Clocking in at 27 minutes, this is a piece of work and there are tons of skaters of most (street-oriented) varieties contained therein. Things kick off with London’s Helena Long whose unique approach to technical street skating sets a cheery tone for all that follows. Her section did leave me wondering whether we still call the trick a ‘willy grind’ if the trick’s being performed by a woman though.
Is that dangerous territory? Very probably…
The juxtaposition between Helena and the second skater Val Bauer, who legitimately looks like a murderer in a good way, (can you look like a murderer in a good way?) is particularly stark. The Paris section with Val, Will Moneris and Oscar Candon, (who must thank his lucky stars daily that he’s no longer obliged to skate in Supra moon boots) is fast paced with lots of pole jams, wallies and strange bank spots. Great stuff.
Rory Milanes and Danny Brady are next and definitely introduce a subtle but discernible Palace vibe to the editing and music accompaniment. Vans must be stoked to have these two on – I mean Palace are so deep these days that they can literally put cartoon ducks all over the least practical (but most iconic) Vans skate shoe ever and Hypebeasts the world over will wank themselves into a frenzy trying to buy them all in 15 seconds. No diggety though – Palace have earned every ounce of that obsequious dick riding from the fuccbois.
Skate-wise – Rory comes through with tricks you never knew he had on lock, and Brady does absolutely no switch tricks at all but a brace of very, very heavy Pupecki variations. I truly hope it was Rory’s stunt anus that he punctured on that handrail though.
‘Nico Gisonno switch frontside flips on a fishtail whilst bridesmaids whoop in BGP’ sounds like the title of a Marcel Duchamp painting but it is in fact the introduction to the next noteworthy part of Much Quiet. Seconds later, Dustin Dollin goes down like an elderly woman shot in the forehead. I love Dollin as much as the next person but I’m beginning to wonder if our collective expectations are enabling him here? As that thought bubble bursts, he’s back, riding away from a couple of trademark drop based tricks, so maybe Dustin’s not quite ready for Dignitas flow just yet. Joking. Long live Spider Grandma!
London Bagladies Daryl Dominguez and Tom Delion lead the charge of a montage also featuring UK skate royalty Chris Oliver, (who still kills it despite having knee cartilage the same consistency as a discarded calamari ring) and the man who seems to be constantly filming video clips for every mag in Europe, Conor Charleson, who does his thing by riding up, down and into a selection of horrendous ‘banks’. Fellow Brits Jake Church and Curtis Pearl introduce some experimental trousers, high-speed lines and footage of the death-defying drop-in that made the cover of Free and the thumbnail of this very video. I have to say though, the footage didn’t really live up to the photo to be honest, but respect to Dogtanian for risking his life anyway.
Sam Sitayeb is sick. He goes really fast, does loads of very hard tricks in lines and generally makes black Vans slip-ons look wearable. In short, he’s a very elegant man running trouser widths completely at odds with mainstream keg thinking. Might this be the first all balaclava part outside of those BA:KU guys too?
Joseph Biais’s appearance as the curtains to the show adds many things to the mix. Mostly though it explains the severe drought of Polar Big Boys in this video since he’s involved in team and marketing goings on for Carharrt. My man knows how to flex pants control. Tops off switch hurricanes is it? Yes my G.
Ending the video with Prefab Sprout’s When Love Breaks Down is inspired too, as a lot of the music earlier on tends towards an edgy Anne Clark inspired Dark Wave kind of vibe. To see a tall ginger guy radically fucking shit up accompanied by upbeat 80s pop is a welcome relief. This is a well-deserved ender from a very good skateboarder.
I feel as though I’ve already written far too much about this but 27 minutes of skate footage in 2022 is like 3-months worth in 2002. The Speed Freaks comparison I made earlier was absolutely meant as a compliment too – this is as varied as you’re going to get (unless you want to see transition skating) and is more than worth a watch, (Quentin’s Dennis the Menace x Pussy Riot costume is worth the screen time alone) if you haven’t already seen it.
Let’s end on this statement of fact: Half Cabs are the best skate shoe of all time. Please make sure they are always in stock, especially in white, in every skate shop in the world. Oh yeah, and keep on funding shit like this – Vans rules!

Felipe Bartolome – Perro Sismico

And now for something completely different…
If the Vans Much Quiet video reminded me of the classic VHS Speed Freaks, then this Felipe vehicle felt more akin to a mixture between Gullwing’s Full Power Trip and a Faces of Death compilation.
Leaning more on the figurative approach to representing high level skateboarding, the whole vibe of this one is unique. From Felipe’s two-tone hairstyle through to his choice of ‘spots’ (and I use that term extremely loosely), there is absolutely nothing conventional about this fantastic little video.
Part travelogue, part documentation of Felipe’s personal journey through injury and Covid and part compilation of spots so rugged that it looks as though you’d end up with Rabies from just standing next to them – this is the closest thing to an objet d’art on my list.
Lo-fi filming is such a meme these days but Felix Bollain wields the hi-8 with aplomb and adds to the atmosphere rather than just doing it for zeitgeist clout. The date on the opening section states ‘Mexico March 2019’ so presumably they must’ve arrived right as Covid began to spread its talons across the globe. Downer. Equally downer is the fact that only a minute into the clip, (and after Felipe’s already filmed a line on one of the most insane looking spots ever documented), wobbly scan photos inform us that he’s knackered his knee after a week.
Back to Spain goes Felipe to sit out a year of knee rehab and global pandemic smoking tabs, making clothes, being artistic and (one assumes) scouring Google Earth for yet more ‘spots’ that come with a Tetanus jab requirement.
2021 kicks in and Felipe’s back – his knee’s working again and before you can say ‘watch out for that 5 meter drop into those used hypodermics!’ he’s tackling some of the most epically crusty spots ever filmed. To be honest, I think if Felix had filmed this in HD it would’ve been too scary to watch – it’s terrifying enough in lo-res. Referring back to a comment I made in an earlier review, this clip really blows apart the conceit at the heart of all this whining about ‘how hard it is to skate in London/New York/insert huge metropolis’. Felipe and crew are literally wallriding on crumbling sandblasted barrio walls, leaping off decrepit 20 foot high bullrings into mud and linking switch lines together through City of God style favellas where the last trick is to hopefully not get mown down by a car. Gallantry doesn’t even come close to how exciting this is to watch.
Given how much time Felipe and co spend sliding across shattered concrete in the pursuit of filming on the most heinous spots on the planet, Carhartt, who sponsored this one, must be very happy to see their trousers road-tested in the most extreme conditions yet. Wear workwear to work? Are you mad? Get those carpenters pants on and slide 200 feet on your arse through a Mexican ghetto more like. That’s the real test of quality and endurance.
I’ve waffled on enough about this now. It’s outstanding in every respect and if you didn’t already rate Felipe and his array of absurd haircuts, you will after watching him deal with some truly unskateable terrain like he’s blasting around Southbank. Seismic dogs indeed.

Lucien Genand – Boardslide hood

I’m confused about this title – is it as in ‘doing a boardslide whilst wearing a hood’? Or doing a boardslide ‘in the hood’? Or is it, using the boardslide as a hood to hide from other tricks and/or from the intrinsic futility of life? Typically French eh? I’m having an existential crisis and I haven’t even started watching yet.
I’ve picked this one for the Top Ten because, to me at least, Lucien’s section represents something very healthy and exciting about the direction that modern street skating seems to heading in. Long gone are the days of every young talent flocking to the same spot to try and add a degree of difference to a previously executed trick. Today’s mission appears to be focused instead on searching out and conquering new obstacles that earlier generations would’ve deemed unskateable or unworthy of their time because you wouldn’t be able to do a trick technically worthwhile enough there. This is where wallies, early grabs and ride on variations come into their own I suppose, in so far as they unlock bits of street furniture that can’t be accessed in a conventional manner.
Aside from those musings, Lucien also reps that now omnipresent look that crosses the ‘urban burglar’ with the ‘fashion waif’. Like he’d break into your house and steal your car but also colour-code your eveningwear for you before leaving. Often this look utilizes black wheels and those trousers with patches on that people who dig modern hardcore seem to favour. It’s a strong aesthetic, possibly popularized by K Rod and Ben Kadow, and combines the ennui and disdain of an aesthete with the desire to slam your ribs into gas meters of a mentally disturbed human.
Is the tree boardslide a Rick Howard reference or is it just chucked in there randomly following a banging manny because like, ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no French dude boardslides it, did it even happen?’
The edit with the break in the first track after Lucien eats shit trying the boardslide to upwards boardslide is ace. The vocals and guitars rise with the danger levels of the shit he’s skating and if you’ve got a soul, you’re hooked.
I’m not trying to front like this is the best video part ever, or that Lucien is likely to create a paradigm shift in our culture – more so that he’s just genuinely inventive and a joy to watch. Anyone else spot the blipvert in this too at 2:25?
It cuts for a single frame to CCTV camera footage of the inside of a café. Is this a mistake? Does it have some sinister significance? Answers on a black beanie please.
My absolute favourite trick in this represents what I like best both about this skater/section and also about this Japanese/Parisian inspired style of skating that pares everything back to its absolute minimum and allows speed and momentum to take the place of overly-aware foot shuffling. When he crack nollies over that dirt gap to 5050 on the step, it’s a pinnacle example of this simplistic but progressive approach. Bravo mec.
Now that I’ve re-watched this a bunch of times, I’ve realised that there are a lot of boardslide variations in it – maybe that explains the mysterious title?
Either way – this kid rips even though he looks like he weighs about 30 kg wet through. It’s ‘on trend’ sure but the ideas and thinking are there too.
Keep exploring Slender Man.

Emerica – Showtime

This one’s in for a variety of reasons – some of which are terribly Brit-centric but hey, fuck you – I’ll be dead years before most of you lot reading this are, (all 20 of you most likely) so indulge the old man, please.
It’s undeniable that Emerica have one of the most distinctive and recognisable video aesthetics of all of skateboarding’s footwear companies. Riders and editors may come and go but you will always know an Emerica video within the first minute of watching. Can the same be said of other more all-pervasive footwear imprints? I think not.
Aside from it being entirely filmed in the UK (England to be exact), which appeals to my parochial British mind, the main reason I selected this one is because it represents a level of brand awareness absent from the contemporary output of most of the larger skate-affiliated shoe companies. There’s a clue in the video’s title – ‘Showtime’ – thus named presumably because it documents a demo tour where hugely well known pro skaters turn up at regular skateparks and skate with, and for, the people who actually pay retail for the products said pros are employed to endorse.
That seems like a pretty simple idea to grasp, but since Instagram and the universality of people spending most of their waking hours transfixed by their handheld twit machines, nearly all of skateboarding’s shoe brands appear to have forgotten about demos. I don’t level that accusation at every brand of course and you shouldn’t need a LinkedIn page full of self-aggrandizing lies to be able to work out which ones I’m talking about.
If it’s a choice between using your marketing budget to hire out a jazzy hotel to give people who’ve not paid retail for a pair of skate shoes in 20 years an opportunity to sniff twat powder and pat each other on the back OR filling up a van with children’s heroes and heading to whatever random skatepark to drop actual lived experiences for your paying customers: which one do you think is more likely to a) result in sales and b) result in righteous stoke?
Am I an old bastard defending tradition like King Cnut screaming at the impending surf? Very likely. Am I still correct about demo’s being hugely significant in skate culture? Yes, I am.
Nobody is going to listen to me though, I’m fully aware of that, and the decisions made over Zoom that demo tours are ‘just not financially viable in 2022’ or that ‘demos are a waste of time’ or even that, ‘nobody wants to watch skatepark footage’ will no doubt continue to be made.
Here’s something though – I attended one of these Emerica demos, organized in tandem with a very active local skater-owned-shop and it was fucking rammed with people. Skaters of all ages, genders and flavours flocked to Leeds’ Hyde Park skatepark to see Leo Romero crook up across and down the hubba they skate every day of the week. It’s easy to forget how life-changing witnessing things like your drunk mate paying Spanky a tenner for doing a backtail shove-it can be.
(That actually happened by the way and as much as Spanky tried to resist this alcohol-sodden act of generosity, said stumbling mong wouldn’t have it.
“I watched you on This is Skateboarding and it made me land on my bollocks on handrails numerous times Spanky lad, I owe you this”).
Old man ranting at a cloud aside, you all know what I mean here, right?
Something went wrong around the mid 00s and most of the skate industry forgot what it’s like to be a wide-eyed kid. ‘But we just dropped a banging Insta clip’ is no substitute for hyping up 12-year-olds. Fix up knobheads.
With that out of the way, Showtime also got selected because it’s got some ridiculously good skating on it. Watching Leo Romero absolutely annihilate rails when he clearly doesn’t need to just rings with the joy of loving skateboarding. The fact that he spoke about how he believes that demo’s are a responsibility just makes it even better. If you want kids to spend their money, then give them a reason beyond staring into their phones. It’s not that difficult.
Sermon over. If you haven’t already watched this – go do so now.
Considering all the confirmation bias from inside the industry about how nobody wants to watch ‘demo footage’, it might come as a surprise to certain elements to see that this piece garnered 107k views on YouTube (second only to the Last Resort AB’s video). Basically, just get in the van, innit?

Last Resort AB – Alv’s Angels

It seems pertinent to hop onto the Pontus train right now and extol the virtues of this next skater-owned release which holds the accolade of being the most watched of this top ten with 123k views at time of writing.
When it works out, clearly there’s no business like shoe business and, for those whose footwear endeavours are successful, solid gold toilets and backyard mega ramps await. Sadly though, for every DC or Lakai shaped success, there are multiple Kastel and Nadia shaped disasters, proving that footwear is dangerous water to wade into for those lacking either the fortitude or the guile to swim amongst the sharks. Happily, Pontus Alv possesses both of these attributes in spades and has proven repeatedly that his large-footed Midas touch is unparalleled in both its Hokus and its Pokus.
It is extremely fucking ballsy to start an independent shoe brand in the current skateboard landscape but Pontus is doing it and from what I can tell, it seems to be working. Mind you, when you combine aspects of one of Vans’ most slept on silhouettes (the Lampin) with a pre-existing high-end Swedish concept then you’re kind of onto a winner in an industry where every brand is trying to reinvent the five most popular models over and over again with different names and minor tweaks to avoid accusations of plagiarism. Trust a guy who has no qualms about getting his cock out numerous times on his own videos to stick two fingers up to the established rules of shoe business and go off on a tangent.
Last Resorts look to me as though they’re designed to still look good even if you Rambo the fuck out of them and tie them so tight that you’re basically wearing splints. Utility-wise, that quality is probably highly relevant given the amount of dropping-off-weird-shit-to-grind that goes on in this clip. Similarly, where once having your laces as loose as hell and puffing up your tongues indicated that you liked hip hop, switch crooks and weed, maybe cranking your Last Resorts tight like a stitched wound signposts your allegiance to weird earrings, stick and poke tattoos and gap to grinds? It’s a confusing world these days.
Onto the clip itself: knucks to Pontus for having zero issues with giving himself opening props. To paraphrase one of Big Brother’s greatest-ever captions:
‘I’m Pontus Alv, this is my cock, this is my wallie: fuck you!’
Nick Rios, Dane Brady and Aaron Loreth open it up with a load of skating that appears simple and doable but is in fact destined to put most of us in A&E, (or in a corridor awaiting triage because everyone’s rightfully on strike due to shit wages, if you live in the UK). Following said trio is that Ludwig guy who I have a hard time taking seriously despite him clearly ripping. This is partly because he dresses like Paddington Bear on his way to Hogwarts and partly because he has the look of a 1980s Scandinavian pop star. I’ll never meet the guy but I do feel slightly bad about flippantly dissing him like that so I’ll throw in this to make amends: at least he’s not running transparent Superstars.
I can’t remember if I’ve met Billy Trick or not, nor can I remember if his name is real or if it’s a skateboarding nom de plume but either way, riding off a fucking bus stop to 5050 on a kerb is mental. Llongyfarchiadau dyn mawr.
Last Resort’s two ‘big box’ pros Jesse Alba and Chris ‘Mango’ Millic close this one off, (alongside contributions from Polar heads Paul Grund and David Stenstrom) with a lot of very good skating which, like the opening trio, probably seems easy enough on first watch. Jesse and Chris have interesting back stories with the former being the result of Salba sauce impregnating a woman leading to a second generation skate pro (Steve ‘Salba’ Alba is his father), and the latter being a kind of Otaku savant who first rose to fame via the Slap forum’s abortive attempt at a skateboarding X-Factor. I’ll be honest, I’ve always thought Frog Skateboards (Jesse and Chris’ brand) was shite but that’s probably because I last learned a trick in 2011. With that said, my father can’t frontside grind any pool in existence, nor have I sunk a Jägermeister shot out of a shoe that someone pays me to wear so if the question is, ‘who’s the wanker?’ then the answer is ‘me’.
Jesse and Chris do so many weird ride-ons, manny to manny variations and generally just rip the shit out of strange spots that even if you think stitching beads onto Vans Old Skools looks wack, you’ve no choice but to slow clap the sheer brilliance of this duo. That shit that Millic does at the end where he ollies onto the chain and then goes into manual on a skateboard nicked from 1986 is just straight-up fucked. The cool guys have their lane and the freaks have theirs and to his credit, Pontus has picked a side.
I genuinely love this clip despite the stumbling attempts to be funny that precede this moment of sincerity. It reminds me of getting punched in the face for the crime of simply wearing Airwalks in public back in 1988 and as such, all involved deserve to be applauded for their contribution to the shoe landscape. Big up Paddington, big up weird earrings, big up Last Resort.
After that justifiably positive ender I feel compelled to finish on this statement.
As an English teacher, whilst I fully appreciate the power of alliteration and of allusion, Alv’s Angels must be one of the worst video titles ever. Thank God gasmask pulled it off. Bravo for not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks.

Jante 11:00

I knew that this would be one of the best videos that Free put out all year before I even watched it. Scandinavia in general, and Sweden in particular, is a cultural powerhouse when it comes to skateboarding. These vast countries with their relatively small populations and high levels of taxation seem to produce skateboarders above and beyond what you’d expect from demographics alone. The reason for this eludes me: is it an affinity for sports and outdoor activities exponentially enhanced by long periods of winter? Is it a consequence of a functioning education system that champions creativity and self-actualization? Or is it simply the result of societies more attuned to the idea that all endeavours that utilize the mind and the body in tandem are worthy and to be celebrated?
Whatever the reason is, anyone looking for evidence of how remarkable the skate scenes in the true north of Europe are need look no further than Fritte Söderström’s Jante series. This is the fourth episode, which builds upon the groundwork of the previous edits with many of the same faces, and features the same extraordinary filming, editing and music curation.
From the moment the opening titles fade, you’re thrown in a world where handrail lines are filmed backwards, or ‘from the front’, with a level of skill and composition that ought to make other highly-celebrated filmers weep with embarrassment.
Architecture certainly plays a part in making Fritte’s videos so startling as this crew are clearly on a mission scouring cities throughout Sweden for spots; particularly ones that allow Fritte to roll backwards at high speeds filming his mates attack all manner of street furniture.
The fruits of these labours are bonkers. Housing estates with perfect rails and endless meandering banks running downhill seem far too commonplace to be accidental. Is this some drainage design feature common to colder countries maybe? In the same way that bus stops which smell of piss and cheap skunk are a recurrent design feature of UK cities? I guess it could relate to the omnipresence of cyclists throughout Scandinavia too, right? Whatever ever it is, when the snow’s melted, it appears that every city in Sweden is an accidental skatepark. Do you think Fritte practices these filmed-from-the-front lines first? Doesn’t seem that hellride to do so but it’s far wiser than rolling backwards into a river at 35mph one assumes.
There’s a glimpse of what I think is Sweden’s oldest skatepark situated in the small town of Falkenberg, a few miles south of Gothenburg in the second part of this clip. Automobilen was built in 1978 and was comprised of a plexiglass halfpipe and a concrete snake run, which is the only bit still standing today.
You can see Simon Hallberg blast a pop shove it tailgrab over one of Automobilen’s venerable bumps at about 46 seconds in. From my cursory research, this thing is hard to find, even harder to skate and usually full of stagnant water, so extrapolate from that the effort that went in to get the 10 seconds of footage featured. Worth it? Yeah, obviously: history bitch.
Cutting straight from that to some supremely handsome fellow called Ville dressed in all-black fakie heelflipping over a stairs/fence configuration is a perfect summation of the degree of thought that goes into Fritte’s output.
I think I described his videos as ‘cerebral’ last year whilst getting frothy about how hot Gustav is and the statement still stands. You could hand this Jante video in as a University dissertation and probably come out wearing a mortarboard and a Freemason ring, such is its cultural density. Or maybe I’ve just lost it because my heating is finally working after a month of freezing to death?
As we move further inside the Jante universe, everyone’s favourite drawing of Shaggy from Scooby Doo comes to life, Vincent Huhta, drops numerous instances of rubber-legged insanity. The nighttime line with the nosewheelie shove it to instant nollie shove nosewheelie alone is funky gibbon Daewon level. Add to that the lengthy feeble through the corner where he looks as comfy as if he was sitting in a foot spa on a tropical beach and you realize that you’re witnessing something truly exceptional. The music, the filming, the spot, the style, the skater: there is nothing throwaway here – expect to see tricks from this Vincent part chopped up and repackaged by repost Insta accounts who couldn’t point at him if he was living in their back garden for years to come. Sublime ability.
On that topic, this one quite fittingly ends on a sort of shared section featuring Gustav Tønnesen, Fillip Almqvist and Martin Sanberg. Now whilst it’s ‘the curtains’, embedded in the spirit of this Jante series is the very Swedish aversion to trying to flex how you’re better than anyone else so despite ending on three supremely talented skaters – it maintains the same level as the rest of the clip. Either Gustav is deliberately only being 90% amazing or everyone in this crew is fucking incredible at skating as well – I’m opting for the latter. As for Gustav, what else can you say that hasn’t already been said? Part supermodel, part Norwegian demi-God this elegant motherfucker can basically do any trick on any obstacle. Whatever you’re paying him adidas; it’s not enough.
The clip ends as magnificently as it begins with a 30-foot long frontside bluntslide from Martin Sandberg. As for the meaning of the title, here’s my take: the newest Jante clip? I’m giving it 11:00 out of ten. Astounding.

Hollandsch Diep

I really struggled to limit this list to ten, simply because there were so many amazing clips to pick from Free’s uploads this year. I’ve also realised that there are more brand-driven videos than I perhaps anticipated but let’s be honest, it’s not like it really matters, does it? Whatever bullshit I summon up to chat about these videos pales in insignificance compared to the actual filmers and skaters who create them. Pretending otherwise would be the height of narcissism.
Due to this, and in recognition of his incredible contributions to skateboard culture under the ‘Memory Screen’ moniker, I’ve done a last-minute swerve and selected JM Sneep’s masterful Hollandsch Diep as the final video for this end-of-year round-up. Yes, it’s branded content paid for by Carhartt but ask yourselves, does that detract in any way from the sheer brilliance of this as a piece of culture? Does it bollocks. Also, it means that Mr Sneep can pay his bills and continue to enrich our lives. Plus, Carhartt make banging kegs which I feel like I’ve said a few times so far. Feel free to link your guy WIP if you’re listening.
Anyhow, onto the matter in hand: translated into English, the title comes out as ‘Dutch Deep’ I think. It’s also the name of a river which connects different parts of Holland together, which may or may not be a metaphor for the way this clip reps skating from all over the country as a cohesive and constantly flowing entity. So ‘deep’ as in depth of talent and spots: or ‘deep’ as in the extent and richness of Dutch skate history? Either way – there’s most definitely a statement being made here and it goes way beyond, ‘buy this gillet’.
As has been said elsewhere by Free, it does really seem that Dutch skating is finally garnering some of the global recognition it deserves, in part due to the consistently incredible output of Mr Sneep and his contemporaries.
I’ve described the Jante series as ‘cerebral’ here and Perro Sismico as being an ‘objet d’art’ which leaves me struggling to know how to adequately heap praise on Hollandsch Diep without repeating myself. This is both of those things and more, and to be honest, is probably the most complete and accomplished skate video that I’ve watched in a very long time.
This is branded content without any crass exhortations to buy stuff which presents the architecture that enables the skating as being as significant as the tricks themselves. In many ways this clip is as much an ode to Dutch street art and architecture as it is a skate video, something which, in the wrong hands, could come across as terribly pretentious but doesn’t here because Sneep is a master of his craft. The 16mm film establishing shots of each strange obstacle that the first trio hit resonates with meaning based entirely on their forms.
Goethe famously stated that ‘Architecture is frozen music’ and that is categorically the vibe that this intensely beautiful clip encompasses, which is pretty staggering given that, on some level at least, it exists to sell you trousers.
Such is the combined power of the skating and the film-making here that any awareness of the means of production immediately melts away, leaving you to enjoy what is essentially an enchanting piece of art.
Pontification aside, the skateboarding is brilliant throughout – from the moment that Sebastiaan cracks his head on the frontside (that’s the second H-Street reference if you’re counting) this delivers banging skating on otherworldly obstacles. It’s hard to go wrong when you’re pointing a camera at Rob Maatman generally, so when he’s helping you out by backside nosegrinding a giant aluminium spring – you’d have to try really hard to make this less than compelling viewing. Everyone else goes in – I liked the juxtaposition between Sebastiaan’s Yeti-like appearance and the grace with which he bounces off bike racks. That wavy obstacle that Daan skates a lot in the new Anti Hero video gets its first airing here too (unless those obstacles are everywhere in Holland) and there’s still enough conventional ledge tech via twinkle-toed Robbin De Wit to keep the other side of the room happy.
Quite a few pole jam evolutionary leaps in here too – who the hell considers frontside shove board bounce up a pole jam? These guys, that’s who…
Did I mention that Mr Sneep also fashioned the first enchanting track for this yet? Well yeah, he makes music too – it’s enough to make any self-proclaimed Renaissance man want to retrain as a plumber. So much talent in one human: sickening.
The second bit of this one features Joscha Aicher who looks like Jan Kliewer who’s been in the gym throughout lockdown and the glue-footed Lex Van Der Does who sounds like a super-criminal to my idiotic British ears. These two add even more skateboarding credits to the embarrassment of riches on offer and yet more crazy obstacles filmed impeccably.
I’ve found it hard to say anything remotely funny about Hollandsch Diep because despite watching it 15 times, all I can do is lose myself in it, which has to be the biggest compliment you can give to any skate clip, surely?
Undeniably, incontrovertibly exceptional in every respect: this deserves way more that the measly 21k views that it currently has. Go watch it now.