This is getting exciting. We have breached the top 10 in our Top 20 Most Influential Riders of all time. If you missed the 20-16 and 15-11 posts and you don’t want to ruin the order, check those out first, then come back here. Either way, you will need to be all caught up before we drop our top 5 in print in the Fall issue.
The early days of style were without a doubt heavily impacted by the likes of Gregg Necrason and his powerful, aggressive, and precise approach to how he carried out his craft. His poked out tricks were accentuated by his lofty air time and creative touches all while being an early proponent of building and hitting rails and features. Gregg’s video parts helped to provide a strong foundation for what stylish riding on film would be for the next decade and beyond.
Throughout this top 20 we make references to being a “Go-Big” guy. Gator is in the list of the originals and in his time was considered THE go-big guy. But Gator’s riding was far deeper than that. He was a hard charger in all aspects of riding, not just amplitude. Progression in his riding was far higher on his list of priorities than self-preservation as Gator would rather put himself at risk for injury than not commit to a new trick or a towering double-up. He won the first ever Readers Poll in 1996 and left his mark on free-riding and wakeboarding as a whole.
Not surprisingly Greg Nelson lands in the top 10 as his riding had a fluidity and form that was as aesthetically pleasing as any rider has been since the inception of the sport. He was the king of the Northwest style, bringing his background in snowboarding into a fledgling sport that desperately needed it to help set the groundwork for becoming a true boardsport. Known as having one of the best methods of all time and being among the first riders, if not the first, to appear in photos jibbing docks, Greg’s impact on the sport at the time and the repercussions felt throughout the next 2 decades is definitely something for the history books. Because of riders like Greg, we avoided being skiboarders, which could have been a sad slow death to our sport.
Wakeboarding and wakeskating were heavily influenced by a visionary whom could not ever take the current state of the particular sport as acceptable. Thomas Horrell’s outspoken and often times abrasive attitude towards what was proper in wake and what was lame often times earned him some backlash from fellow industry types. But nearly every single one of those people would have to admit, however many years later, that Thomas was probably right. He was amongst the first to show that a backside 180 into the flats done correctly was just as hard and impressive as any mobe at the time. After leaving his mark on wakeboarding and by abandoning foam top wakeskates for grip tape and really channeling his influence from skateboarding, Thomas can forever be hailed as the pioneer of modern-day wakeskating.
The dude has an aura about him. Previously there were no contests like the Wake Open to determine who was the best all around rider in the sport, but the consensus amongst those in the know would give the title to Mr. Harf for the better part of the last 10 years. Constantly able to reinvent himself as legends tend to do, Danny is and has been a contest killer, freeride master, trick inventor, and trend setter all while being the guy that everyone wants to be. Arguably one of the best overall athletes wakeboarding has known, it seems just as likely that he could have ended up at the pro level in whichever sport he chose. Wakeboarding is a better sport for having him blaze his path while everyone stood back to enjoy it.