20 Best Skateboarders of All Time Who Changed the World

Not many things compare to watching a magnificent skateboarder. Everyone has their own style, their own things that they prefer to skate.  Some skaters are super technical, some are more about style, some skaters only seem to do huge gaps, while others do mind boggling circus stunts.

So who is the best skateboarder of all time? With the hundreds of incredible skateboarders that have thrashed since the dawn of skating, how do we determine the best skateboarder?  How do we decide who made the cut?  It’s always a personal preference but I’m sure many will agree. This list is composed of the best skaters from across the decades, and all the disciplines of skateboarding.

Without further a due, here is the list of the 20 best skateboarders:

20.  Rob “Sluggo” Boyce

Sluggo is a huge Canadian Skater.  Huge in the sense that he is very muscular, and huge in the sense that he won and placed in many vert contests throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s, and that he started the biggest skateboard distribution company in Canada, and the iconic brand RDS Skate Supply Co., with friend and skate legend Colin McKay.  Mostly, though, Sluggo is credited for doing the first backflip to fakie on vert.

19. Tony Alva

Skateboarders and the skate industry will forever be in debt to Dogtown legend Tony Alva.  Not only is he credited for the first frontside air, creating vert skating, and being the creator of modern skateboarding, he also helped in the development of the first Skateboarding specific shoe with Vans, started the first skater owned and operated skate company, Alva Skates, which was also one of the first companies to make decks out of Canadian Maple Plywood.

18.  Guy Mariano

Not many skaters have continued to skate and put out impressive video parts over 30 years.  Guy Mariano has.  His part in Bind’s “Video Days” is stuff of legend, and cemented his place among the greats at the ripe old age of 14.  Flash forward 20 years to 2012, Guy did the impossible with a switch 360 flip nosegrind down a handrail, in Girl’s “Pretty Sweet”.  Guy’s mix of technical skating, and style are very impressive, and all his video parts have held up well throughout the decades.

17.  Ed Templeton

Have you done a 50-50 down a handrail? Ed did it first.  Ed is well known for doing ollie impossibles down stairs.  Ed is an innovator that helped to progress technical street skating with tricks previously only done by freestylers.  Ed also started Toy Machine skateboards, which has consistently had one of the most talented skate teams, and has spawned many of today’s legends.

16. Stevie Williams

Stevie Williams’ skating looks so effortless.  He pops his tricks high, catches them so nicely, and lands so smoothly.  Stevie has technical prowess, and style for days.  Stevie’s video parts, and clips are timeless, and will always be a pleasure to watch.  Plus, he has built an empire from his skateboarding career; starting DGK, shoe designs and collaborations with clothing and accessory companies. Stevie deserves a spot on every top list.

15. Chris Haslam

Creativity, and innovation are two words that best describe Chris Haslam’s skating.  There is nothing that this guy cannot do; hand rails, ledges, gaps, circus tricks, mini ramps.  Have you seen “Cheese and Crackers”?  Nuff said.

14. Paul Rodriguez

P-Rod.  3 SLS wins.  8 X-Games medals. 3 time Battle at the Berrics finalist.  8 shoes on Nike SB.  With P-Rod’s clean, smooth and consistent style, he deserves everything he has worked for.

13. Elissa Steamer

Elissa is the first female to attain the status of “Pro Skateboarder”, but her skating speaks more than that achievement.  From the streets to parks, to transitions, Elissa is a very skilled and powerful skater.  Elissa is seen in some classic video parts rolling flat out and super fast at big ledges, big stair gaps, and big rails.  Also, Elissa has pretty much dominated every competition that she has entered.

12. Tony Hawk

Tony is easily the most recognizable figure in skateboarding history.  His career has spanned over 30 years.  Tony has won over 70 contests, more contests than any other skateboarder in history.  He invented several tricks, such as the Madonna, the Stalefish, and the Sacktap. He performed the first documented 900 spin.

He has over 18 video game titles, countless movie and TV appearances, started YouTube’s RIDE channel, and built skateparks all over the world.  There is no doubt that Tony is easily one of the greatest skaters of all time.

11. Chris Joslin

Joslin goes huge and fast.  He epitomizes the generation of street skaters that fly over huge stair sets, massive drops and gaps, crazy long handrails, flipping in and out of ledges, and are technically proficient at flat ground.  Joslin is also very consistent, which is why he does so well in contests, and is in contention for a spot on the USA Olympic Skateboarding Team.

10. Daewon Song

Creativity doesn’t begin to describe Daewon’s skating.  When you watch any clip, or video part of his, you know that he views the world, and skateboarding differently than anyone.  He has been known to stack tables, and garbage cans, skate on old tires, and forklifts.  His technical skill is unrivalled in his flip tricks, grinds, spins, and late flips.  Daewon is definitely on of the most interesting skaters to watch.

9. Eric Koston

Koston is a pioneer, and is the pro skater that is on every pro skater’s top 10 list.  He was doing unusual tricks on big handrails, and ledges, and gaps, when most skaters were walking past those obstacles.  Koston has a very recognizable style that is clean, smooth and also technical.

He has done very well in competition, and each video part he puts out is better than the last.  Koston also has a personality which lends its self well to his video parts, and interviews.  Watch him yelling at a guy that broke into his car on Girl’s “Yeah Right”; it’s the opener to the classic Koston skate part.

8. Richie Jackson

Richie is a easily one of the more creative skaters these days.  Aside from his recognizable “hippie look” with the Salvadore Dali moustache, you always know when you are watching Richie Jackson skate.  He does no-comply hippie flips over chains, stalls onto moving carts, firecrackers down huge stair sets, wall rides down stair sets, and slides on his feet while his board goes under the obstacle.

While people regard him as having a “circus style”, there is no doubt that his tricks take a great amount of skill, and board control.  Richie Jackson is always entertaining to watch, and his skating never disappoints.

7. Leticia Bufoni

Leticia is one of the best skaters active right now; female or male.  Leticia has 10 X-Games medals, holds the Guiness Book of World Records record for “Most Wins Of The World Cup of Skateboarding World Rankings (Street, female)”, and consistently holds top placement in the SLS Female division.

She has a very consistent, and clean technical style, which gives the impression that if Leticia wants to land a trick, she will land the trick.

6. Mike Vallely

Hardcore is a good word to describe Mike V.  Not only is he the singer for classic hardcore punk band Black Flag, but his skating is unapologetic, raw, and very creative.  When Mike started skating, he had open streets, and parking lots, so he developed his style to suit this terrain.

Mike V is know for “old school” street tricks such as hand plants, foot plants, street grabs, and fast plants to get over obstacles.  Mike can skate anything from transition to rails, but the iconic image of him is a hand plant invert in an parking lot.  A true classic.

5. Sean Malto

Malto is a cool dude.  He makes every trick that he lands look effortless, and super fun.  He has a cool, laid back attitude, and it is reflected in his skating.  Malto has done well in SLS contest, and Battle at the Berrics, and his video parts are fantastic.  While Malto doesn’t do a lot of huge tricks, like massive gaps and stair sets, his skating is consistent and clean, and he has a chill style which completes the package that is Sean Malto.

4. Chris Cole

Chris “Cobra” Cole is best known for going huge.  He is well know for clearing huge stair sets and gaps, grinding and sliding massive rails, and his switch frontside flip down the Love Gap.  In addition to the huge stuff, Chris is also very consistent and can put together lines and runs.

His 3 Maloof Money Cup wins, X-Games and Gravity Games medals, Battle at the Berrics, Thrasher King of the Road, and eS Game of Skate wins prove that he is one of the most skilled and consistent skaters still active today.  If thats not enough proof Chris Cole deserves a spot on the list, he was Thrasher’s Skater of the Year twice.

3. Rodney Mullen

Rodney Mullen is one of a kind.  He is considered the best freestyle skater in the world, but he is very humble in interviews.  Rodney has basically invented every street trick that skaters do today: kick flip, heel flip, 360 flip, dark slide, casper slide, ollie air walk, impossible, primo slide, and many others.

Rodney has Rodney has started several skate companies, such as Tensor trucks and Almost.  Rodney developed a hip problem in the mid 2000’s which he figured was from favouring a stance, so in effort to correct that, he started to erase his stance, so that he would be able to skate equally in his regular, or switch stance.  Oh and Rodney also invented the flat ground ollie.  Where would we be without him? Also check out his inspirational Ted Talk on Youtube!

2. Mark Gonzales

The Gonz is considered the pioneer of modern street skating.  He, and Natas, were the first people to skate handrails.  The Gonz was one of the first people to do big gaps, and stair sets.  He would do double flips, 360’s, nollies, and flip tricks in and out of manuals and grinds and slides.

While by today’s standards his skating seems pretty basic, The Gonz was the guy that started it all and all street skaters, the world over, owe him a debt of gratitude.  His video parts have gone down in the annuls of history and are definitely a good watch, and have good music to accompany.

1. Nyjah Huston

Here are some of the stats: The overall champion of SLS for 5 seasons and several 1st place finishes, 12 X-Games medals, 5 medals in World Skateboarding Championship, winner of 5 Tampa Pro, and placement in the Dew Tour several times, to mention a few.  To top that off, Nyjah is the highest paid skateboarder in the world.  Nyjah has worked his ass off for these accolades.

Nyjah started skating at age 4.  Growing up, his parents owned a skatepark, which is where he spent most of his time.  He had a 5 hour practice session each day, where he went through his trick list every day to land them all consistently before moving on to learning new tricks.  At age 7, Nyjah was sponsored by Element.  His early parts were very impressive, and he was recognized as the little kid with the long dreadlocks, laying down sick lines, and putting out killer video parts.

More recently, Nyjah has been known more like a contest skater, and he keeps racking up victories.  But he still puts out incredible street video parts, which always blow the viewer away, and never disappoints.  Nyjah is a hardworking, dedicated skater who works tirelessly to hone his craft. His performances in contests and video parts speak for themselves, and prove why Nyjah is the best skateboarder of all time.

That’s it!

Ok, I get that you disagree with this list and I can probably add another 30 skateboarders I disagree myself and will totally revamp this post, No Pappas brothers? Are you insane? Exactly! Oh, did I mention my list of best skate videos of all time? Check it out on a rainy day.

Ruben Vee

I 'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can.

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