Last year 14-year old rider Ayumu Hirano from Japan and 15-year old Arielle Gold from the US were the 2012 winners of the Nokia Rookie Award at the Burton US Open. Chosen by an Awards Committee, and presented by current BUSO judge Satu Järvelä (herself winner of 1995 and 1996 Burton US Open pipe events), Ayumu and Arielle have gone on to exceed everyone's wildest expectations.
"Winning the Nokia Rookie Award was huge," says Arielle. "It helped me pay for travels, which was awesome, and was a kickstart to my career." With a win at the FIS Snowboarding World Championships 2013, and a bronze at the Winter X- Games, Arielle has graduated from Rookie snowboarder to being a full-on contender for the Sochi 2014 Olympics in just one season.
And Ayumu? Gold at the Burton High Fives in New Zealand, Silver at the X-Games, Gold at the Burton European Open and at the 2013 US Open it took Shaun White on home soil (ok, machine-shaped snow) to stop Ayumu getting the top spot in the men's pipe. He was always destined for greatness of course - the first time he dropped into the US Open pipe in 2011, the announcer said "It doesn't make sense how something so small could go so big," - but right now, no-one but Ayumu knows just how big he could go.
Which brings us neatly to the question of who won the 2013 Nokia Rookie Award. Have the judges picked more legends-in- waiting? Are young men Darcy Sharpe and Taylor Gold, and girls Chloe Kim and Brooke Voigt the names that'll be filling up the magazines, blogs and film sections of winter 2013-14? "I feel like the other years I wasn't being recognised," says winner Chloe Kim (pictured, right) "But this year I'm on fire."
Ayumu and Arielle may have set the bar high, but this years batch of Nokia Rookie Award winners are well up for the challenge of beating it. But don't take our word for it, you decide whether they're the next big things.
How? By checking out this short film we made at the 2013 BUSO. And yes, the entire film is shot on Nokia Lumia 920 phones.
Photos of the Nokia Rookie Award Winners attached with relevant names in the credits.
Check out www.nokia.com for more details.