Who is the new guard?
The stars of tomorrow
We asked some of today's top action sports athletes -- those winning X Games medals now and those who've long-since cemented their legendary status -- who they think are the next great athletes in their sports. Meet the new guard, which starts with snowboarder Marcus Kleveland (shown here), as selected by their idols and peers.
Snowboarder Marcus Kleveland
Mark McMorris, who won double gold at X Games Aspen 2015, picked 16-year-old Norwegian snowboarder Marcus Kleveland as a future star. "Marcus is so air aware and has the majority of the tricks on lockdown," says McMorris. "All he's missing is a little weight to make it over the big jumps in contests. I know his future in the sport is bright."
BMX rider Zane Bradley
BMX legend Kevin Robinson has been mentoring Zane Bradley since Bradley was just 8 years old, and apparently Robinson's tips have worked. Now 19, Bradley has already made an impressive dent on the BMX world. "Zane is my definite choice. He kills it as a rider and has the best attitude," says Robinson.
BMX rider Marcus Christopher
"There are so many talented young kids who have been emerging over the years," says Anthony Napolitan, known for his success in BMX Dirt and Big Air. "But one in particular stands out to me: Marcus Christopher is 12 years old, from northeast Ohio. Not only is Marcus highly skilled on a BMX bike, but he is also modest and extremely respectful to everyone he encounters. Talent alone can't take you everywhere, and that's why I'm proud to say that you should all be on the lookout for this ripping Ohioan."
Skater Asher Bradshaw
Skate veteran Bucky Lasek knows how to spot a future star. "There are so many great young skaters who are surely going to make their mark in skateboarding, but I think Asher Bradshaw has clearly set the bar for these up-and-comers," Lasek says. "His power and consistency is only out-staged by his youth and fearless approach. Asher has gold coming to him in his near future."
Freeskier Oystein Braaten
"In the competition scene, especially, I see Oystein Braaten as one of the next big stars," says Tom Wallisch, an X Games gold medalist in Ski Slopestyle. "He is so dedicated to his skiing and loves every minute of it -- he's constantly smiling and laughing. Oystein slays rails and jumps alike, so I would expect to see him on top of many slopestyle podiums in the future."
Freeskier Maggie Voisin
"When I think of the future of women's freestyle skiing, one girl comes to the forefront of my mind -- Maggie Voisin," says Kaya Turski, who's won more gold medals in Ski Slopestyle than any woman in history. "Maggie already has some hardware [like a silver medal from X Games 2014] to prove she is on her way up the ranks, but I think this will be just the tip of the iceberg. I can see the fire in her eyes and the determination in her heart. Simply, I think Maggie's got the spark."
Snowboarder Arielle Gold
"I think Arielle Gold could be the next great athlete in women's snowboarding," says Kelly Clark, the queen of snowboard halfpipe. "At only 19, Arielle has one Olympics under her belt and knows how to work hard. Anyone can have talent, but it is what you choose to do with that talent that moves you from good to great. She is constantly investing in her snowboarding and pushing herself to reach her potential."
Motocross rider Sandra Gomez
Ask two-time X Games Women's Enduro X champion Maria Forsberg who is the next great in her field, and she'll tell you Sandra Gomez. "She has a great attitude and is easy to get along with," says Forsberg. "She is very skilled in trials and has lots of drive."
Snowboarder Ben Ferguson
"Ben Ferguson's snowboarding is a thing of beauty," says snowboard powerhouse Pat Moore. "His skill and style transcend generations. At 20, he influences riders both young and old. I can confidently say all of snowboarding is excited to see him succeed and what lies ahead because of how great a kid he is. He's genuine and a hard worker. I already see him as one of the greats, but I know there's a lot more to come."
Snowboarder Christy Prior
Longtime slopestyle champ Jamie Anderson points to fellow snowboarder Christy Prior as the next great. "She is such a strong rider. She works super-hard and is so talented," says Anderson. "I'm always inspired by her steeze and fun attitude.She's one of the best female riders out there, no doubt."
BMX rider Mike Varga
Jamie Bestwick has won nine consecutive X Games gold medals in BMX Vert, and he says Mike Varga is the one to watch. "Once in a while someone special comes along, a rider so talented that he defies the boundaries," says Bestwick. "Mike Varga holds the ability to make hard tricks look easy, which is a direct attribute to his graceful demeanor, his contagious smile, and his endless search for the next fun aspect of riding. Mike is leading the charge to rewrite history and show us that our beliefs in what was once unthinkable have now been shattered by his riding."
Motocross rider Thomas Pages
Thomas Pages has already made a name for himself in freestyle motocross -- he won gold at X Games Austin 2015 in the debut of Moto X QuarterPipe -- but ask four-time Speed & Style gold medalist Mike Mason who's the next legend and he'll point to Pages. "In my eyes, Thomas Pages is the next great in our sport. I'm not even saying this because of his contest results or his tricks -- he has a personality, he's an ambassador of our sport," says Mason. "Guys like Pastrana, Twitch, Metzger and Deegan built our sport through riding and personality. Once those guys started getting away from our sport, too many riders cared only about results. I think Tom is a very good mix of both."
Skateboarder Tom Asta
"I think the next big name is going to be Tom Asta," says Chris Cole, the 2013 Street League Skateboarding champ and a two-time X Games gold medalist in Skateboard Street. "Tom is already a name but he's about to really go through the roof. His skill is a gift. He does every trick the way we all wish we could, and he is a skate rat."