They Got Next
We interrupt this issue to bring you a glimpse of the future. From a 13-year-old skateboarder who's already trademarked his name to a 14-year-old who surfs Pipeline with Kelly Slater, meet the stars of our 40th Anniversary cover.
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The Triple Threat
In September, David’s mug was broadcast to 91 million U.S. homes as part of Cartoon Network’s Props special, which spotlighted kids with exceptional skills. David’s talent? Take your pick. The North Shore, Oahu–based nine-year-old, who first hopped on a surfboard at just 13 months, is a surfing, skateboarding, and motocross phenom. Last summer, he trained with pro skaters Danny Way and Bob Burnquist in Southern California to prepare for a Summer X Games demo on a 14-foot vert ramp. “I know he’s only nine and has a long road to get to the professional level,” says Way, “but with his surfing and skating progressing so much over the past couple years, Kalani is going to bring a lot of excitement to both sports.”
When his brother bought him a skateboard for Christmas in 1999, Siljeg, then just five years old, vowed he’d practice every day until he turned pro. It didn’t take long. The Bothell, Washington–based wunderkind won his first competition less than a year later and scored a sponsorship with Jones Soda. Competing against pros twice his age, he finished 29th in the 2006 World Cup Pro Bowl North American rankings. Now 13, Siljeg has a license to distribute his Sky skate brand worldwide and serves as a consultant for Scholastic.com. “I don’t think of skateboarding as a sport,” he says. “It’s more like art to me. It will be the same trick, but everyone has their own style.”
Gonsalves sleeps with a security blanket at night, but during the day she rides six-foot waves at V-Land, a hollow wave popular with Oahu locals. The 14-year-old Honolulu-based surfer has been on a board since age six, with help from her dad, pro surfer David Gonsalves. “I always thought surfing was going to be a big part of my life, because it was a big part of my family’s life,” she says. She’s won global kids’ comps like the 2006 Maui & Sons Grommet, at Gold Coast, Australia, and has already picked up modeling gigs from her sponsor Roxy. Next summer, she’ll make her first attempt at San Clemente, California’s National Scholastic Surfing Association National Championship, the country’s top amateur competition.
“John John Florence has lots of drive and talent,” says surf legend Herbie Fletcher. “He could be world champion someday.” Fourteen-year-old John John (center), who holds four national junior titles, is the youngest competitor ever to enter the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, where at age 13 he competed against the likes of Kelly Slater and Andy Irons at Oahu’s Pipeline. His brothers—from left, Nathan, 13, and Ivan, 11—are following suit, consistently placing near the top at regional contests. Up next? Look for Haleiwa, Hawaii–based John John to qualify as a regular on the ASP World Tour. It can’t hurt that former world champ Tom Curren, who was an early mentor to Kelly Slater, is a close family friend.
In August 2006, Baxter, then 11, won the junior division at Hawaii’s notoriously tough Molokai Crossing; three months later, he took first at Maui’s Aloha Classic Wave Championships. And yet between all the contests, the champion windsurfer, now 13, has helped develop a new category of sailboarding products: extra, extra small. Thanks to the Pukalani, Maui–based Baxter and his parents—Hobie Cat veteran Keith Baxter and former pro windsurfer Karen Calvert, who are in the board-distribution business—companies are creating boards for kids weighing as little as 40 pounds. But it’s not all about the gear. “My biggest dream is to be overall world champion,” he says. “That would be so sick!”
Forget that Watts picked
up a Nike skate sponsorship when he was nine and was beating 20-year-olds the following year. The Bend, Oregon, native insists
he was made for snowboarding. “Even when I’m skating,” he says, “I like to find lines at the park that make me feel like I’m snowboarding.” His mom bought him a secondhand snowboard when he was seven, and the next season he won the first competition he entered. Last spring, at 13, he snagged his most impressive victory to date, the all-ages USA Snowboard Association’s national championship in freestyle. He’ll be visible this fall as one of the youngest athletes featured in the new Warren Miller flick, Playground.
So what if he can’t say he dominated from the start of his career. Competing near his Whistler, B.C., home in 2002, at ten years old, Allison got lost in the woods and failed to finish. Since then, though, he’s had no trouble finding his way, leading Canada’s under-17 circuit and winning Canada’s National Mountain Bike Championships the past two years. Last spring, at Monterey, California’s Sea Otter Classic, Allison crashed and broke two fingers but still finished fourth in his age group. “I like thinking that I’m out there with friends,” says the 15-year-old. “It helps me relax so I can focus on winning.” Although he excels in all disciplines, his dream is to compete in cross-country at the Olympics. Plan on seeing him in 2012.