This year's staff pick for Best Video was about as bitterly contested as they come. The full list of nominees going in was adidas Away Days, Polar's I Like it Here Inside My Mind, Don't Wake Me This Time, WarCo Sun Machine, Volcom Holy Stokes, Boulevard Quinto, the Sour Promo, Palace V Nice, Hockey Hockey II, the Sk8Mafia Video, Emerica Made Chapter 2, Politic Division, WKND Who's to Say, Vans No Other Way, our own Substance, and Santa Cruz's Right to Exist. But to be honest, the main battle came down to Away Days and the Polar video. Both incredible full-lengths—both their companies' first, and both with European roots, albeit both from radically different walks of the industry—one from a grassroots board brand launched by a Swede (Pontus Alv) in 2011, the other from a prestigious shoe company founded by two German brothers (Adi and Rudolf Dassler) in 1924.
As it turned out Away Days won the popular vote—no electoral college needed. While I may or may not have voted for Polar, I'm here to tell you why I believe our staff voters ultimately made the right choice. As far as I could see it, Away Days, under the directorial talents of Matt Irving and videographic expertise of Chris Mulhern, Torsten Frank, and Justin Albert paints the most complete global picture of skateboarding circa 2016. If aliens landed and we could only give them one video from the list above, I believe Away Days would give them the most complete understanding of our pastime and it's eclectic smorgasbord of participants. It has the bases covered—worldwide—from Nestor Judkins to Miles Silvas, Blondie McCoy to Tyshawn Jones, and from Gunes Ozdogan to the Gonz.
Meanwhile, I'd also like to state up front that I think Away Days was slightly overshadowed and unfairly overlooked upon its release last year due to the political fallout and controversy that exploded between Marc Johnson and his former sponsors at Lakai/Crailtap. I'm not going to say those things don't matter, but I would urge you to give it a fresh watch today—without all the added side drama—and really digest the whole thing as it was intended to be consumed.
That said, the video itself is massive. Rarely have so many divergent styles and approaches all been stitched together as a cohesive whole. Even more rarely does the Gonz himself serve as that stitching. And where else could you possibly find a full Lucas Puig part to the Pet Shop Boys, followed by a full Rodrigo TX part scored to Troy Ave. Then there are wild cards like Jack Fardell and Alec Majerus—both could survive as stand alone videos of their own—and skating with polar opposite terrain preferences/approaches. Jake Donnelly ollies the fuck out of a parking meter, and Gustav Tønnesen does the best rendition of Tim O'Conner's tweaked switch frontside ollies (see Element's World Tour ['00]) since, well, Tim O. Did I fail to mention a full Mark Suciu part, Na-kel's going pro part (I feel good!) and Lem Villemin. How about Tyshawn's all-white overalls (one-strap loose) as he varial flips Love?
I'll close my argument with Silas and Dennis. Let's be frank, no self-respecting skateboarder on the planet would turn down any video that closes out with back-to-back double-song-parts from these two legends. And both deliver arguably some of their best parts to date. Elections have consequences and so do Baxter-Neal and Busenitz parts. In this election, adidas Away Days was rightfully voted the best video of 2016. Jump around.—Mackenzie Eisenhour