Level 1 just announced the 10 finalists (and one wild card) for the 2013 iteration of their Superunknown contest, which the film company has been running for ten years now as a way to feed deserving but undiscovered talent into their films through an extensive online video contest. Past winners have included such stand-outs as Corey Vanular, Jon Brogan, and American hero Tom Wallisch. This year's crop of international finalists, which includes Jakob Lundberg, Anton Jansson, Alex Dorszynski, Dom Laporte, Hudson Knoll, Emile Bergeron, Magnus Graner, Jacob Hyllengren, Hugo Pelletier, Shay Lee, and wildcard Sandy Boville, are all currently in Sun Valley for a week-long film shoot with Level 1. The one voted the shoot's most dominant skier will walk away with the Superunknown title, $5,000 cash, a Monster sponsorship, and an official invite to join Level 1 for the rest of the filming season… which we presume is just about over.
Jakob Lundberg/Anton Jansson
It's abundantly clear that Jakob and Anton ski together. In fact, they ski so remarkably similar that if you combined the edits and said it was one person, Jakob Anton Lundberg-Jansson, I don't think anybody would second-guess you. They are both dead-smooth with gorgeous jump tricks and plenty of suave tech on rails. You'd really only be able to tell by looking at their switch landings. Jakob lands every single one centered with his hands by his hips while he looks at his feet, while Anton, no matter which way he's spinning, punches his right hand out and looks way over his left shoulder like he just slipped a disk in his back getting side-swiped by a car. If he makes it, Josh Berman will have to tell him to chill with that style additive, as it starts to look forced by the end. Given the jump-heavy nature of Level 1's Sun Valley shoot though, I'd probably pick Jakob.
Kids today are under the misguided impression that your style has to be robot-smooth to be good. It doesn't. Skateboarding has a huge breadth of styles and some of the most entertaining guys to watch—I'm thinking of guys like Dustin Dollin and Ragdoll—barely look like they have their shit together, which makes it more awesome when they stick a gnarly trick. Same goes for Dom. His rail-heavy game fluctuates between periods of smoothness interjected with spastic explosions of spins. Sometimes he looks like he's about to lose control in the middle of a switch 270 gap to down rail, while other times he looks like he's going to fall over just skiing away from a feature. But sometimes, especially in a sport as homogenous as skiing, a little mess is a great thing.
Probably the best part about Superunknown is not discovering new talent but discovering unique talent that wouldn't have been appreciated otherwise. Logan Imlach, Sig Tveit, Jon Brogan, and Lucas Stal-Madison all fit that bill. This year, Shay Lee is that guy. The elbow rail 450 drop onto giant wooden stairs, the flare onto the roof, committed one-footers, and the huge stall drop onto a measly three-foot down rail are all the kind of unique tricks that build the hype about new blood. While he'll need to clean up his grabs to make his tricks movie-worthy, the size of his backcountry jumps are already there, and a lot of his ender jibs are fully HAM.
Sandy Boville was an 11th place wildcard entry in this year's contest, since Level 1 thought he was too "known" given his Breakthrough Performer win at this year's Powder Video Awards to count in the actual Superunknown contest. But the point remains that Sandy Boville deserves to film with Level 1. He's got a little bit of LJ Strenio in him, with an extremely deep trick bag on both jumps and rails. My favorite trick of his, and pretty much of the whole contest, is the tranny-finder 360 over the tiny spine-shaped shack. Boville's diversity of park talents means he should be able to get shots regardless of whatever features are placed in front of him. And when you're spending thousands of dollars and belching out gallons of diesel fuel to build only a few features for your signature park shoot, that counts for a lot.