Chris Haslam – Readers’ Choice Award

Now it could be a malfunction, but when logging on to the Almost Web site to vote for the “Who Won Round 3?” poll, I was instead presented with the results-Chris Haslam taking a whopping 96 percent of the nearly 15,000 votes. Okay, so it’s rigged and/or is a malfunction-especially since Daewon didn’t earn a single percentage point-but Chris did indeed take our readers’ poll and left all competition in his wake. He earned nearly double the votes, both online and write-in, as his boss, Rodney Mullen, who came in at number two.

By now you must be thinking, “Everyone must’ve seen Round 3.” True, true. And although Chris’ grizzly (don’t worry, kids, he’s not scary-in fact, offer him pizza and cereal whenever possible) demeanor bears no physical resemblance to his mentor, friend, and runner-up, the general reaction to Chris’ opening part is strikingly similar to the reaction people had when watching Rodney’s first Plan B part in Questionable some thirteen years ago: “What did he just do?” Where Rodney’s messing with frontside shove, late double varial heels (yes, that is a single trick, not a line), Haslam’s riding away from nollie late front-foot flips out of crooked grinds on rails. It’s hard to write and even harder to think about-but it sure is fun as hell to hit the rewind button and contemplate. And thank god for DVDs ’cause there’s nary an original copy of Questionable floating about-most were worn out from repeated viewings and especially from the overuse of what we used to call the “Rodney” buttons-the rewind and the slow-mo.

So there it is: Chris Haslam, your skateboarder of the year. And you didn’t even get to meet the guy or maybe he would’ve taken even more votes from his counterparts. And while you may never get to meet the man who could be the most approachable, down-to-earth dude in skateboarding, at least you can take solace in knowing he’s going to remain one of the most innovative skateboarders in the years to come, one who will surely keep your fingers on the “Rodney” buttons with every video-part release.-Eric Stricker