The quest to be an International Downhill Federation World Champion is no easy path. Race tracks are more technical and rider’s skills have improved, making a victory at a World Cup Race a pinnacle accomplishment for any rider.
Ten years ago, first round heats were walks in the park for top qualifiers. Today, qualifying for the open class bracket is a testament to ones skill as a competitive racer. With over a thousand skaters competing in world cup events throughout the year, each has the opportunity to make a name for themselves. A select few have separated themselves as top contenders.
Open skateboarding Top 10 from 2015 and Wildcards
1st - Carlos Paixao – Brazil - The 2015 IDF World Champion is a powerful skater with little weakness in his downhill skateboarding skills. With his tall and dense stature, he is one of the fastest down the straightaways and has proven himself on technical courses by qualifying 1st and winning last year’s most technical racetrack (Festival de la Bajada). Don’t forget about his powerful and quick start. Carlos trains to win and the results have shown. While he started last year off slow he finished the strongest winning the last two world cups. He is banking on finishing well in his home country again as he missed the first World Cup of this year.
2nd - Dillon Stephens – Canada- Prince Dillon hasn’t finished outside of the top five in world rankings since the IDF was formed. He consistently makes it to the semi-finals or better but has struggled to finish on top of the podium. His worst finish at a World Cup race in 2015 was 10th but to become world champion needs to win races. Dillon will need to be just as consistence and more aggressive to win the title. He finished 5th in 2013, 3rd in 2014, and 2nd in 2015. This could be his year. He wants it more than ever.
3rd -Thiago Gomes Lessa – Brazil - Thiago Lessa, generally does best on tracks where strategy and straight line speed is key, but proved to be a contender on technical tracks by making it into the finals at Festival de la Bajada. He needs to be more consistent if he wishes to contend for the world title. Finishing 14th, 4th , and 4th in the last world cups hurt his chances at being the world champion. He has the drive to be a champion but needs to eliminate the mistakes in the early rounds.
4th - Kevin Reimer - Canada – 2014 IDF World Champion, Kevin ‘White Lighting’ Reimer has set the standard for race domination. He brings the complete package of racing tactics and skill to challenge anyone on any course. He is one of the most experienced racers, but the more technical the course the closer the competition gets. This year he might be taking a step back from the world tour but he will be a contender at any race he attends and will be sure to mix it up in the rankings.
5th - Zak Maytum – United States - No one wants to win more then Zak Maytum. Unafraid to bump shoulders and make passes in tight situation, Zak has a racecar mentality focusing on lines and setup. Sometime he can be over aggressive which has caused some crashes and hurt his chances at being world champion.
6th -Jimmy Riha – United States - Jimmy ‘Rad Train’ Riha puts on a persona that he just wants to skate and have fun but you can see the fire in his eyes when he is racing. He is an all around skater but works hard at dialing in his race form. His smaller stature hurts him on courses with long straightaways but he capitalizes on technical tracks.
7th -Erik Lundberg – Sweden – Erik ‘The Snake’ Lundberg, is a threat at any race he attends. His lack of focus throughout the year hurts his chances at becoming an IDF World Champion. He is a talented skater, quick to adapt to any track or course conditions.
8th -Adam Persson – Sweden - The 2013 IDF World Champion, Adam ‘Thor’ Persson, took the tour by storm. While people didn’t underestimate his skill, they did underestimate his diversity to perform well at a variety of tracks. Injury has plagued him the past two years but he has put in work during the offseason to stay healthy this season.
9th -Mauritz Armfelt – Sweden - Mauritz Armfelf, is always smiling. He is fast and skilled but need to improve on race strategy if he wants to be world champion.
10th - Aaron Hampshire – United States – Aaron ‘A-Swag’ Hampshire is all about going fast and racing. He honed his skills in the high speed, high elevation roads of Colorado but needs to get more dialed on technical tracks if he wants to be a world cup contender.
Alex Charleson –Canada- The 2015 Junior World Champion has proven he can keep up with the older competitors. Each race he gains more experience and will be sure to mix it up with the best.
Anders Inde – Sweden – 2015 was Anders first year on the World Cup Tour. He took many seasoned veterans by surprise by beating them in the early rounds. If he improves on qualifying, he can make his path to the finals easier.
Nicolas Desmarais – Canada - Nicolas has racing in his blood as he competes in snowboard boarder cross and started downhill skating as off-season training. Injury put a halt to his 2015 tour and he is currently working hard to get back to 100%. Missing the first part of the season will make it tough to be world champion but he can definitely win a few races.
Byron Essert – United States –Byron embodies pure talent and skill, but doesn’t care much about winning. He skates everything and enjoys going fast. He only attends the races with tracks fun to skate. If he changes his motivation and wants to win, be on the lookout.
Max Ballesteros – Brazil - Another Brazilian with the drive to win. Max has the passion to win races but a combination of bad luck and tangles in races heats has plagued his conquest for the title. He wants to win so bad he won’t give up a line, which has caused some early round crashes.
Patrick Switzer – Canada – Patrick is a dialed skateboarder competitive on any track. He has the ability to be fast with a variety of skating styles and uses it to his advantage in race tactics.
Andrew Haiby – United States – A.J. is undeniable one of the fastest skateboarders on the circuit. Every run down the hill he goes as fast as he can. This can hurt him at times, like when he crashes by himself out in front. If he can improve on his race strategy, he could be a world cup contender.
Troy Grenier – Canada - Troy has the potential to win but needs to keep his emotions under control.
Douglas Silva - -Brazil – Douglas ‘Dalua’ Saliva is powerful skater with a great start, and he is one of the fastest in a straight-line. An injury took him out of the title race last year but he is back and hungry for the title.
Sebastian Hertler – Germany – Sebastian is an aggressive skater ready for any challenge. He prefers the racetracks where he can separate himself through technical skill and not through race strategy.
James Kelly – United States – There is no lack of skateboarding talent for the American Dream. James isn’t interested in becoming World Cup Series Champion. He is more excited about skating the gnarly roads around the racecourse than the racetrack itself.
Key Dougherty – United States - Arguably the fastest skater in a straight line. Key is generally the fastest skater down the track but has had problem adjusting his lines when the pack is close.
Emily Pross – United States – The 2015 IDF Women’s World Champion finished 25th in the 2015 Open World Cup Standings and looking to improve. She dominated the women’s class and is looking to mixed it up even more in the open class in 2016.
Connor Ferguson – Australia- 2013 and 2014 Junior World Champion has the potential to win but needs to get more dialed in race tactics to improve his chances.
Jackson Shapiera – Australia – Jacko has been out of the World Title hunt the past 3 years, but he’s back with the drive to win. Fast tucking tracks suit him best but he is a veteran racer and knows how to play that to his advantage.
Rob McWhinnie – Australia – A talented all around skateboarder with the skills to win on technical racetracks. Sometime he forces passes, which has taken him out of some races.
Riley Harris – Canada – Riley is fast at every race he attends. He is a smart racer generally lurking in 2nd place to consistently advance far in races. He needs to be more bold in the later rounds to become the World Champion.
Mikel Echegaray Diez – Spain – Mikel dominated the Luge Class in 2015 winning all but one event he attended. His setup is dialed and his style is aggressive which has helped him separate from the pack.
Abdil Mahdzan – Malaysia – Abdil doesn’t make many mistakes but needs to be more aggressive if he wants to win more events.
Kolby Parks – Canada – Kolby knows what it takes to win. He is has a veteran racer but need to be more consistent if he wants to be world champion again.
Emily Pross – USA - The 2015 IDF Women’s World Champion raised the level of racing last year and looking to dominate the women’s class again but the competition is rising to the challenge.
Rachel Bruskoff –USA – Rachel isn’t afraid to throw caution into the wind and charge aggressive lines. She is talented and she is refining her skills to be more consistent.
Loryn Roberson – USA – Loryn is a talented skater but races within her limits and consistently advances in heats. Every race she gains more experience and improving her skill level.
Disclaimer - The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and does not reflect the views of the International Downhill Federation.