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Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Updated: November 29, 1:09 PM ET
Mag Plus: '05 Top 10

By Dave Finger & Alyssa Roenigk
ESPN The Magazine/EXPN.com

*This piece is currently running on the action-sports department page in the December 6 issue of ESPN The Magazine. Don't agree with our picks and predictions for '05? Sound off in our Message Boards.

THANKSGIVING IS SURELY the time to review the year's killer apps. And yet it feels oddly unfilling. So we decided to use 2004's main courses to predict what action fans will feast on in 2005. Dig in—there's plenty for everyone.

1) Surf King
We honor Andy Irons, 26, not for nailing surfing's world championship again (following wins in 2002 and '03), but for his dominance—of the waves and of the world's top surfdogs. Consider the numbers: AI stood on the podium in seven of 10 '04 Tour events, building a mathmatically uncrunchable 1,236-point margin even before December's final stop at Hawaii's Bonzai Pipeline. Kelly Slater finished third, but his record of six world titles is key. Why? Because six is the only motivator for AI in '05 and beyond.That makes him our pick to get title No. 4 in '05.

#1: Andy Irons, third consecutive WCT title.
2) Huck-A-Chuck
Where'd that trick come from, and who is Chuck Carothers? Back it up a beat: Before X, Carothers was couldn't buy a run in a Freestyle Moto X comp. But by letting go of his ride in X Games Best Trick and pulling a bike-less, horizontal 360 (technically, a body varial), which he dubbed The Carolla, he crashed through the FMX glass ceiling. On the revs for '05? The previously unimaginable: Start with a double backflip and roll from there. Are you listening, Travis?

#2: Chuck Carothers, body varial.
3) Big Ride
Flashback: In 2002, snowboarder Travis Rice dropped 30 feet from a crane into a quarterpipe. His '04 encore: Rice popped a nosegrab backside rodeo 720 (two inverted spins, with style) over 120-foot "Chad's Gap" in the Utah backcountry—maybe the sport's burliest stunt yet. Next: Rice will produce a video of his '05 chronicles. Yeah, we can't wait to see what he'll do either.

4) Vroom Broom
Motocross phenom James "Bubba" Stewart won 23 of 24 motos (gear-speak for heat) in the 125s this year, while legendary Ricky Carmichael swept all 24 motos in the Bigs, the 250 bangers. Expect fireworks when the future and current kings of the sport meet for January's flag-drop of the 2005 Supercross season. Play nice, boys.

5) French Fare
Take a dream list of tech skate tricks. Add speed and precision. Mix for 10 minutes and pop goes hot, hot skater Bastien Salabanzi. Gotta like the name. Like the skating better. He's 19. He's French. He dropped a run at October's Goofy vs. Regular contest that caused fellow skaters to howl "best comp-run ever". So adieu vert. Bastien should bring the masses to street in 2005. He'll have his own shoe in '05. His tag? Bastien wearing headphones. On his playlist? "Johnny Cash." Gotta love that.

#5: Bastien Salabanzi, contest king.
6) Money Man
Freestyle Moto X-er Nate Adams flipped the bouquet and cleaned the big house in 2004, with 150 G's in prize money (including $50,000 from his first X Games win). He was the biggest money earner among action cats, but there will be a lot more opportunities to top him next year. The Money Booter: A new crop of big-money comps will hit in 2005, topped by the Dew Action Sports Tour's $3.5 million total purse. Bling!

7) Easy Riders
Big-wave surf flick Riding Giants was a mere beach tickler on the cosmic Hollywood box-office scale ($2.26 million). But the flicks' true impact must be measured backside—Hawaii-style. Thanks to Giants, cult legend Greg Noll (old school) became a mainstream celeb. Cult legend Laird Hamilton (new school) went mainstream, fronting for American Express, and became a call-out on MNF. Cult legend Stacy Peralta (old and new school) landed an H-wood gig, directing the long-awaited adaptation of the cult book In Search of Captain Zero.

8) Bam Nation
Scene 1: Bam Margera blows big in 2004, locking in Viva La Bam on MTV, star treatment on THUG 2 and his own Sirius hour. Plus, skateboarding's merry prankster pushes an industry-leading 20,000 decks a month. Best of all, he skates when he wants. "There's always money in the budget for skateboarding." Scene 2: Bam's finished his first screenplay for Warner Bros., Kiss a Good Man's Ass, which begins shooting in March. That sets up what we're guessing will be the biggest scramble for bootleg dailies since Attack of the Clones.

#8: Bam Margera, going Hollywood.
9) Bus Ride
Here's the deal. Park a 10-foot ramp at the end of a tour bus. Challenge mountain bikers to launch the ramp and gap the bus. The catch: they'll need a 60 mph motorcycle tow-in. Aussie Nathan Rennie was the only taker, landing the 70-foot jump and the prime role in New World Disorder V. That sets up what we're guessing will be freeriding's 2005 TiVo moment: a group of riders will tour Baja by boat, searching for canyons to gap for Disorder VI.

10) Way Big
Technically, 2002 was skater Danny Way's year, when he first pioneered 65-foot spins on his Mega Ramp. But he gets 2004 props because the X Games came knockin' and Way ran his legendary bad stuff up Main Street. Next stop: China, where Way will jump the Great Wall with a custom $500,000 ramp. Kanpei, Danny boy.

#10: Danny Way, off to China.