I ask athletes what their favourite underrated video of last year was, and then ask them why. Along the way I discover some athletes I've never even heard of before, and get a few blasts from the past!
As time goes on in this digital age, parkour and freerunning content is getting more and more forgettable… not because the content is getting worse - in fact you could argue it’s higher quality than ever. It’s just that there’s so much of it out there now! An endless stream of impressive movement is constantly hitting YouTube from all corners of the globe.
Back in the day, you could probably trawl through all the decent parkour content on Youtube in an afternoon. You would frequently revisit the ‘classics’ for a quick dose of inspiration, which gradually transformed into nostalgia as the years went by. I don’t see this so much anymore; the desire to rewatch old content is obviously much less when there’s always something new to watch.
So I decided to give some athletes and filmmakers the opportunity to shine one last light on some of those videos of 2017 that will ultimately end up buried under the tide of new content that 2018 will bring in. In that spirit, this post is for those videos that make you go “Ahh, yeah I remember this!” instead of the obvious bangers which will stand out for years to come.
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I first spoke to Nate Weston, and whilst his suggestion was by far the most recent, it was certainly a banger that would otherwise totally have slipped my radar. ‘Entelechy’ by Thomas Schantz from Denmark was released on the last day of 2017. It’s jam-packed with nasty doubles and high level technical fuckery - all set to an MF Doom soundtrack, and really showcases that modern freerunning style. Great shout, Nate!
“He's doing things that basically all of the community wants to do, and just does it so casually. The video has some nutty clips in it and yeah, just don't understand how it only has 3.7k views.” - Nate Weston
Good ol’ Giles was the next to reply. He sent me in the direction of a video that actually came out in late 2016, but we’ll let him off! The Summer before last the Street Media lads went out to Romania on a shoestring budget for a bit of an adventure. They produced this stylish edit. Street Media are a great bunch of guys, and really underrated movers, so I urge you to show them some love and check out their channel!
“I think it’s progressive, I think it does the VHS style quite well without being overly cliché. It’s kinda glitchy, it’s… I think progressive is a nice word. It’s stylistic but doesn’t come across as overdone or cheesy. And I think the Street Media guys are fucking talented - there’s some really sick movement in there that doesn’t get much attention.” - Giles Campbell Longley
Renae Dambly - winner of the 2017 NAPC women’s skill competition, actually wanted to direct attention to how amazing and underrated the NAPC is. NAPC stands for the North American Parkour Championships, and are held annually in Vancouver, Canada. I personally always stay up late to watch the livestream every summer, but I can see why it could be considered underrated. This is what Renae had to say;
“It’s one of the only competition venues that features 3 movement styles, and focuses on highlighting North American talent. They have regional qualifiers which is huge since most competition venues are invite, onsite, or online qualifiers. Some international athletes have come to the event but for some reason making it to the podium at NAPC isn’t as amazing as Air Wipp or Katalyst, etc.”
Why do you think it’s not considered the same level of accolade as Air Wipp or Katalyst?
“I think it’s considered underrated for a few reasons, it’s in North America and only a few ‘big name’ athletes attend, whereas in Air Wipp and Red Bull there is funding from known large companies and the lineup is mostly ‘big name’ athletes with one or two underdogs. NAPC highlights talent within North America. Other competition venues highlight the professionals - that’s the biggest difference I see.”
But it only felt right to feature this video - especially after the great year it’s been for women’s parkour in general. Back in the summer Renae teamed up with Saskia Neville and Scott Bass to make a parkour video that aimed to push women’s parkour forward by stripping away any ‘gimmicks’ and shooting the action in as neutral a way as possible - letting the movement speak for itself. This fun jaunt across the rooftops of Brighton and Cambridge didn’t do that badly at 42k views, but certainly deserves more as there’s lots of really great stuff in there! Thanks Renae!
Speaking of Scott Bass, I actually just wanted to throw this one in here for good measure. Released early last year, his explanation of the history of Parkour naming convention was really clear, and well produced - as one would expect from him. There just isn’t a huge amount of content like this out there, or at least not that I’m aware of. So even if you’re not a linguistic prescriptivist, I’ll think you’ll get something interesting out of what Scott has to say!
Joel Eggimann then hit me up with a few videos from a Swiss guy called Ruben Buchegger - a perennial under the radar talent in the world of parkour. He even competed in the London Art of Motion back in 2011! His video ‘Seventeen’ is rammed with all that is great about Swiss Parkour; massive glidey jumps, and mastery of slick concrete walls. I asked Joel why he thought Ruben wasn’t so well known beyond Switzerland:
“He sees Parkour as an activity he likes to do beside his normal life. I think for him it’s more about spending time with friends while training. He just doesn’t care if people know him or not. He just does it for himself… He never really tried to get well known in the community. Even though he‘s probably the most talented athlete out there that I know.” - Joel Eggiman
And finally, the most frequently suggested underrated video of last year: ‘Jannis Schauer 2017’. This fantastic reel was suggested to me by no less than Toby Segar, Nate Weston, and Brandon Douglass. Jannis is such a diverse and well rounded mover, and as you can see his talents extend beyond the domain of parkour and freerunning. I particularly enjoyed the cliff diving section in the middle, and the catpass-splat-backflip madness right at the end!
“It was a pretty simple edit but the quality, variety, and creativity in Jannis’ movement was amazing.” - Brandon Douglass
I had to throw in one last thing seeing as I’m quoting Brandon Douglass. ‘What Happened’ was finally released towards the end of 2017 after a long two year wait. It’s technically a documentary about why people do parkour... but it really doesn’t play like one - it’s packed with that unique Coloridian sense of humour, and was filmed over a Europe tour the MYRM guys did back in 2015. I suspect the finished product is nothing like what was envisaged at the time, but Brandon did a great job of salvaging the project and making something fun and watchable out of it. Not to mention it’s got a shitload of beastly movement in it!
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That’s your lot for now folks. I Hope you enjoyed some of those videos, and with any luck you found at least one new athlete to subscribe to in 2018.