Age: 24 Specs: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds
Home: Maui, Hawaii
THE CASE: So how could we snub Denmark's seemingly indomitable Björn Dunkerbeck, who's collected 12 world titles? Well, Kevin Pritchard is going to take him down this year. (That, and the Dane is dull.) They're currently battling for first in the World Cup, but Pritchard, a two-time U.S. national champion, skunked Dunkerbeck in the Canary Islands in July and has since won every event in the series (Pritchard's older brother Matt was ranked third last year, but he's out with a broken ankle). The overall title combines race and wave competitions, the latter of which is Pritchard's speciality—he launches off 20-footers like a snowboarder in the half-pipe. Says Pritchard, "I can't imagine ever wanting to do anything else."
SECOND OPINION: "Gotta hand it to him," says Matt Pritchard. "He's spent a lifetime in my shadow, and now he's jumped out and created his own. It's going to be a long one, too."
MOST HARROWING MOMENT: Falling mug-first from the top of a 25-foot wave onto his mast in 1994, breaking his nose and several bones in his face.
WHAT'S NEXT: The last World Cup stop of the season, off Hookipa, Maui. We're betting that by the time you read this, Dunkerbeck will be history.