20 Unforgettable Action Sports Heroes Of 2013
From Carlos Burle, to Danny MacAskill to Diana Nyad. We recognise our inspirations from the last year.
Whether it be Nico Müller throwing down a colossal method over an Alaskan spine, Shane Dorian conquering mega waves in the middle of the ocean or Rachel Atherton decimating downhill courses around the world, action sports has the power to stun, amaze and excite. These athletes are at the top of their game and never fail to inspire us with their display of bravery, skill and determination.
The past year has seen some incredible feats and we've selected our most remarkable and inspiring moments from 2013.
[part title="Carlos Burle - Nazaré"]
Nazaré has something of a reputation for throwing out apocalyptic waves from time to time. It's been the scene of some epic big wave slaying in the past courtesy of Garrett McNamara but the giant Carlos Burle tackled at the end of October may prove even bigger.
It wasn't just his fearless assault of a 100ft wave that impressed us. Prior to the ride of his life, Burle's tow-in partner and fellow big wave surfer, Maya Gabreira was wiped out riding the waves off of Portugal's Atlantic Coast. Burle's quick reactions and rescue were instrumental in saving her life.
Bravery on the board and on the jet ski and a potential new world record. Just some of the reasons we're proud to count Carlos Burle as part of the action sports family.[part title="Diana Nyad - Swimming From Florida to Cuba"]
Imagine swimming for 53 hours straight, now imagine doing it in nothing but a swimsuit in shark infested waters while getting stung repeatedly by jellyfish. For Diana Nyad this was not a nightmare but rather the realisation of a dream which she had held for a significant amount of her life.
In September 2013, Nyad proved that one should never give up on their dreams, no matter how crazy other people think you are when she completed the 110 mile swim from Florida to Cuba in conditions that would be described by many as torturous and impossible.
But Nyad was determined to prove these people wrong and her fourth attempt captured hearts around the world as she proved that there is nothing you cannot do when you put your mind to it.
[part title="Loris Vergier - Hafjell Hardcore"]
Not content with being one of the most exciting MTB prospects around, Loris Vergier has also shown himself to being one of the ballsiest.
Debuting as a junior at the Downhill World Cup this season, he was showing great form when he arrived in Hafjell. On his descent he took a huge crash and was knocked out cold. Undeterred by minor things like loss of consciousness he was straight back on his bike and managed to take fifth overall on the stage.
Where others would have staggered to the side of the track and called it a day he was not dimmed and ploughed on. His bravery was rewarded come the end as he claimed gold at the Junior World Cup.
[part title="Chloe Kim - Dew Tour Bronze"]
Super-Groms are nothing new to snowboarding. They're usually backed to the hilt by sports marketing executives and fiercely promoted by loving parents. However, a relatively unknown 13-year old storming the podium at one of America's biggest half-pipe competitions? Enter Chloe Kim.
The young American threw down heavy McTwists and back to back 7s to claim the third place at Breckenridge in December, finishing just a point behind female snowboarding legend, Kelly Clark.
Though too young to compete at Sochi we reckon Kim shows that if you're good enough, you're old enough.
[part title="Tommy Carroll - Blind Skateboarder"]
Action sports haven't always been particularly accommodating to those with disabilities. That's starting to change on the snow and Tom Carroll is doing his bit to lead the way in skateboarding.
Carroll was blinded by retinal cancer aged two but has been skateboarding since he was 10. Watching him skate, it's impossible to notice that he's a guy who has never seen anything - ever - and taught himself by trial and error and the occasional fall.
Carroll is a reminder that nothing can stop us enjoying the sports we love.
[part title="Seth Morrison - Freeskiing Stalwart"]
Action sports is increasingly becoming a young man’s game, if you’re over 15 and haven’t stomped a triple cork you’re done. No one mention that to Seth Morrison. Following a hell of a year in 2013 he won Powder Mag’s Reader’s Poll at the tender age of 40 - some would take that as a hint to hang up the boots but Seth is showing few signs of slowing down.
Morrison has been with his main sponsor, K2, for longer than some up and coming pros have been alive. The huge backflips and cliff drops that have made his name are just getting better with age. His part in Poor Boyz Tracing Skylines showed that he’s still the go-to guy for progressive freeskiing. Skiing will be a poorer place without him if he ever retires.
[part title="Rachel Atherton - Downhill Queen"]
The Atherton Family are proving that they are a force to be reckoned with on the mountain biking scene. And one of their highlights of 2013 would have undoubtedly been the World Cup event on their home soil in Fort William. Having one child cross the finish line in first place would be reason enough to celebrate but to have two family members take home gold in both the male and female categories must be something else.
Brother Gee has been long-standing hero on the mountain biking scene bringing home gold at some of the world’s top events and proving his worth at one of the toughest events on the planet – The Red Bull Rampage but it has been sister Rachel who this year has stolen the show.
She dominated the World Cup season, winning all but two rounds and also took the World Championship title. And it seems we are not the only ones to think she is a stand out hero of the year – she has been nominated for the BT Action Woman of the Year Award 2013 too.
[part title="Danny MacAskill - Trial Bike Trail Blazer"]
Macaskill has come along way since dropping his five and a half minutes of riding around Edinburgh four years ago and is now the world’s reference point for his sport. His incredible success hasn’t made him complacent as he’s continued to increase his mastery over his bike.
Imaginate appeared on youtube in June of this year and has gone down a storm. MacAskill has put Red Bull’s plentiful resources to good use in creating the most incredible and absurd trial bike course ever seen and watching him tackle it was a joy. His ascent from Scottish mechanic to global superstar in four years has been incredible and in a world of creeping corporatism it’s fantastic to see imagination and a sense of fun alive and well in 2013.
[part title="Jeb Corliss - Pushing the Boundaries of Wingsuit"]
If you think you have seen athletes do crazy things, then think again. Jeb Corliss has made a name for himself for being one of the world’s top BASE jumpers and wingsuit pilots. With an impressive 1,000 jumps under his belt, including the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge and Angel Falls, he has also been known to fly through waterfalls and pet Great White sharks. It’s safe to say this man fears nothing.
With many near-fatal experiences and broken bones to his name, his latest accomplishment, the ‘flying dagger’ really does put him at the top of the spectrum of being a daredevil. After jumping from a helicopter at 6,000ft, he proceeded to glide through a 10ft wide crack in Jang Langshan Mountain in China at 122 mph. One slight wrong move or sudden gust of wind and this could have been the very last flight of his life.
[part title="Garrett Reynolds - Raising the Bar Again"]
One of the things we love about action sports is the importance placed on having fun with like-minded people who are passionate about their sport. Over the past few years however, we have seen more and more video produced with an emphasis on marketing targets set by brands. That is until Garrett Reynolds and the Deadline crew dragged it back to basics and produced one of our favourite videos of the year.
As well as offering amazing riders pulling off rad tricks it is the overall vibe of the film that make it so special. There is no grand master plan behind it, it seems that the lads decided to just go and have fun doing what they love with a camera in tow. And you can tell when you watch the final product – there is awesome sounds to accompany riding at its best. It’s that simplicity and sheer passion and love for the sport that Reynolds brings to BMX that we feel earns him a place on this list.
[part title="Mick Fanning - Old School Slayer"]
In a surfing world where over-hyped youngsters and young prodigies are living up to their billing, we were delighted to see an old-schooler take the World Title.
Mick Fanning, from Coolangata in Australia, dominated through consistency throughout the competition. He only finished lower than the quarter finals once across the entire year, and became a legend in surfing by joining a very exclusive club.
Only four other riders, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Mark Richards and Tom Curran have won three titles or more. It's the magic number when it comes to crossing into legendary status, and Fanning joined them with a spectacular heat win at Pipeline in Hawaii in December.
Some controversy followed that final heat with critics claiming the score was undeserved. But once again proving to be the hero that he is Kelly Slater stepped in to silence the negative comments saying that while he lost the title in that specific moment, it was Fanning's consistency over the entire year that made him the right man to take the title on the day.
[part title="Jens Voigt - Tour de France Warhorse"]
The Tour de France is pretty tough. 3,500km in three weeks, two mountain ranges and all in the searing French summer heat. This didn’t stop Jens Voigt completing the world’s most prestigious cycling race for the 16th time just a couple of months before his 42nd birthday.
Voigt is the backbone of Team Trek Factory Racing and a legend on the tour. During his 17 years as a professional he’s shown himself to be a formidable rider on the flat, only his struggles in the steeper stages has stopped him winning Grand Tours. The record for completed tours is seventeen - we wouldn’t bet against Voigt matching it in 2014 then smashing it down a year later.
[part title="Halldor Helgason - Snowboarding Innovator"]
Icelandic snowboarder, Halldor Helgason, is responsible for probably the biggest and most memorable moment in snowboarding in 2013. Whilst filming for Nike’s blockbuster, Never Not, he decided to hit not one but two huge roof gaps with a smooth as hell backflip and steezy 360.
Helgason did it all very much against doctors orders and pulled off the show stopping closer in a neck brace. Hard. Core. Big time snowboarding is at risk of being sucked into being a sport purely about triple corks which makes Halldor all the more important. His willingness to try new things and take huge risks in the process offers innovation and progression.
[part title="Denis Enarson - Fearless On Two Wheels"]
Dennis Enarson came back from injury with a stellar year. In contests and in the new film Markit he set new performance levels.
When asked in Dig if he actually possesses even an ounce of fear, Dennis Enarson will tell you that it’s not so much a lack of fear, but more so an ability to subdue his concerns and convince himself that something isn’t as scary as he first thought. Admittedly this approach has led to some difficulties for him, not least a two year onslaught of serious injuries. But that capability to ride at such a high level of burliness, combined with the ability to bounce back from even a broken femur.
This nailed him the first ever Dig Magazine ride rof the year which capped off an incredible comeback year of massive moves, solid video parts and a return to fitness.
[part title="Carissa Moore - ASP Champion 2013"]
In a sport that has become increasingly about how its competitors look rather than how they compete, Carissa Moore has started to set the record straight. Some of her contemporaries seem to resemble models who occasionally surf rather than vice versa but Moore has shown that grit, determination and heavenly ability are the real keys to surfing success.
She won her second World Championship this year and is proving that the girls are just as good as the guys when it comes to nailing barrels - don't just take my word for it though, this is what surf legend Kelly Slater had to say about her: "She's the best in the world right now. And what's scary is, she just keeps improving."
She's an inspiration to girl groms everywhere and long may her success continue.
[part title="Tom Pages - Motocross X Fighter Extraordinaire"]
Tom Pages is a man of many talents. He started out in BMX before turning his hand to the world of competitive Freestyle Motocross (FMX) in 2007. Since then he has been smashing it left, right and centre. But it was his unbelievable performance at the Red Bull X-Fighters in 2013 that forced us to step up and take notice.
The Red Bull X-Fighters is not only considered one of the toughest on the Motocross circuit but one of the toughest across all sports. It is dangerous, unforgiving and requires staggering levels of skill to even compete at, let alone win.
Showing he has utter balls of steel, Pages let it rip and ripped across distances of 30 metres, 15 metres high in the air pulling tricks out of the bag. These included a 540 degree turn off a quarter pipe, a mid-air backflip above his seat, a mid-air 36 degree spin off his bike and his favourite trick of all the Tsunami Indy.
Let’s not forget, after only a year of competing, Pages became the first rider to stick a double grab flip and along with his brother, landed the first duo frontflip caught on camera. What a legend.
[part title="Bob Burnquist - Helicopter Pilot and Skateboarder"]
Who else can boast about having a mega ramp like this in their backyard? None other than skate legend Bob Burnquist. After making history in 2010 for landing the first ever 900 on a mega ramp, last year in his webisode series “Dreamland", we saw him take skateboarding to a completely new level. Literally. His personal mega ramp is around 75 feet tall.
In the series, he added a new feature to his gigantic mega ramp, a 15-foot hip gap into a 25-foot vert ramp. But he didn’t stop here. To finish off why Burnquist makes the cut, he only went and launched himself off a helicopter! A helicopter! He really is the definition of mega ramp skateboarding.
[part title="Rob Greenfield - Off the Grid Across America"]
Rob Greenfield has done lots of stupid stunts. He’s walked 10km barefoot around New York and hitched 1,300 miles from Cabo to San Diego but his 2013 expedition was his grandest yet.
Over 103 days he cycled 4,300 miles across America, from San Francisco to Vermont. All without electricity, bottled or tap water or a support team.
His ‘Off the Grid Across America’ challenge was designed to raise awareness of the environment and during his journey he survived on water from leaking fire hydrants and puddles, food in dumpsters and insects - often in the nude.
His incredible feat was news all over the world and showed just how tough the human body can be in pursuit of the right cause.
[part title="Kilian Journet - Sky Runner"]
A long standing hero of the ultra running world, dudes don’t get much fitter than Kilian Journet. He can run up mountains with more agility and speed than one would think humanly possible. He has taken on some of the toughest races on the planet and in 2013 he went one step further beating the current record for the vertical ascent of the 14,692 foot Matterhorn.
Dressed in just a t-shirt and a pair of running shorts, the 26 year old took on the knife edge Lion’s Ridge with astounding speed in order to complete the challenge in a time of 2 hours and 52 minutes, beating the current record by 22 minutes. Bear in mind that this ascent usually takes climbers 12 hours of hard graft to complete.
[part title="Doug Henry - Paraplegic Motocross Backflip"]
Doug Henry is a multi championship winning Moto-x champion, who has had a rocky road to success through a series of severe injuries. He first broke his back mid career. Then just as he looked like he would win his first title, he broke both of his arms.
After a successful comeback and many other injuries he retired a champion at the top. He had brief career at Snowcross, where he took silver in the winter X-Games, before coming back into Supercross where he broke his back again. This time though, the break was a lot more serious and he was left paralysed from the waist down.
But this wasn't enough to stop Doug Henry, he had his bike modified with a roll cag and continued to ride in amateur races whilst trying to make a full recovery.
Last year he took his kids to friend Travis Pastrana's compound. Not wanting to miss out on anything he decided he was going to nail a backflip. Travis said no way he was making it, naturally second attempt he did, landing right way up in the foam pit.