The Decade Awards: 2000's - Introduction
the 90's ebbed and the new millennia emerged there was a feeling that
something precious, something important was being lost. The number of
players who were attending tournaments was diminishing, new players were
few and tournaments were faced with dwindling numbers. But an Ultimate
tournament in Italy would change the direction of the sport forever.
1998 the Paganello Beach Ultimate Tournament in Rimini, Italy would
offer Freestyle as an event. The impact of that seemingly simple idea
was profound as an explosion in number of players, the quality of play
and the passion for the game would redefine the game. American
players Larry Imperiale, Paul Kenny, Tom Leitner and Arthur
Coddington were all influential to the new European vanguard. Founding
Euro jammers such as Jan Ekman, Clay Collera, Reto Zimmerman and Joakim
Arveskaer would be viewed as visionaries. Fledgling Freestyle pockets
would emerge across Europe and gel in ways that would have seemed
unimaginable only 10 years before. There was no longer a new hope, this
was a new beginning.
Men's Player of the Decade: Tom Leitner
When Tom Leitner first went to Europe and discovered its potentiality
one of his first priorities was to find every single jam there was in
Europe. He would show up at a piazza jam in Rome, a turf session in
Paris, a jam in Amsterdam and astound the unsuspecting local jammers. It
was like Jimi Hendrix showing up to and crashing a garage band session.
In 2004, Tommy would move to Rome and use that as his base. He was about to become one of the most influential players of all time and
to have the greatest run of his already historic competitive career.
Tommy would amass 9
Majors, 9 Paganello's and be the #1 ranked Freestyle at the
end of the year 4 times. However, the most significant contribution of
Tommy Lightning's legacy would be his raising the bar for the next
generation to achieve. But Tommy Lightning was not alone in his mastery.
Arthur Coddington and Dave Lewis also have very strong arguments for
being the best player of the decade. Arthur won 10 major titles during
the 2000's. He too was a very strong influence for the new Euro Jammers
patiently mentoring the young players so they could find their own form.
His steady partner Dave Lewis also won 9 major titles and finished as
the #1 ranked player in the world 4 times.
Womens's Player of the Decade: Lisa Hunrichs
Lisa began the decade hot winning the 2000 FPA Women's Pairs with Mary
Lowry and the 2000 FPA Mixed with Arthur Coddington. From there she
never really let up winning a major title in 7 of the 10 years. She was
also the #1 ranked player 4 times. This was the decade where Lisa found
her groove with 10 major wins. During this time she matured as a player
and refined a style that would feature splendid touch, high difficulty
and long elegant lines. At the end of the decade it became apparent that
she was one of the greatest women players of all time.
Pairs Team of the Decade: Arthur Coddington/Dave Lewis
The top team of the 90's were far from done as Arthur Coddington and
Dave Lewis won 3 FPA Pairs Titles, a WFDF Title and a World Disc Title
to separate them from the pack. Matt and Jake Gauthier's back to back
FPA Pairs Titles in 2006, 2007 proved they were no fluke and Jam Masters
Tom Leitner and Dave Schiller teamed up for two FPA Pairs titles as well
as a WFDF Pairs Title.
Top Pairs routine: Tom Leitner/Dave Schiller - 2005 FPA World's Seattle
This routine was like two titans at the top of their game playing with
passion and conviction. Their dropless routine was the thing of legend.
There were other highly qualified routines that barely missed out for
the top routine of the 2000's
Arthur Coddington/Dave Lewis 2003 FPA Worlds. They were highly tuned
veteran champions who used their immense feel and finely tuned instincts
to battle the swirling winds to perfection.
Matt and Jake Guathier 2006 FPA Worlds Berlin. The "G" Bros broke
through in a big way playing with confidence to announce their arrival
as a force to be reckoned with.
Top Co-op routine: Collera'/Zimmerman/Arveskaer - 2008 Bologna, Italy
One aspect of the new Euro wave of jammers was the celebration of the
old time Euro Jammers. But the team of Collera/Zimmerman/Arveskaer was
far from a ceremonial teaming. These guys put together some finely
crafted complex routines and executed them to near perfection. Their
victory at the 2008 FPA Worlds was a stunning victory over a deep field.
It was one of the most emotional wins ever as it was the first world title for each
player. The three guys who helped lay down the foundation for the future of the sport drew some well
deserved attention to not only their abilities but their generous spirit
Top Mixed Team: Fabio Sanna/Eleonora Imazio
The young italian team of Fabio Sanna and Eleonora Imazio exploded on the scene winning the 2007 FPA World Mixed title in Bologna. It signaled a new beginning as the Europeans would go on to dominate this tournament and stake a claim as the 'new guard' for the next generation of players. Fabio and Ele would continue to play at a high level.
Top Mixed Routine: Dave Schiller/Amy Schiller 2005 FPA World's Seattle
The veteran team of Dave and Amy Schiller showed everyone how it's done
as they took the Mixed title at the 2005 FPA World Championships, their only drop coming
with 5 seconds left in the routine.
Top Women's Team: Lisa Hunrichs/Cindy Kruger
The top Women's team of the decade is without question Lisa Hunrichs and
Cindy (Kruger) St Mary as they won the FPA women's paris title 4 times including 3 in a row from 2003-2005.
Top Women's Routine: Lisa Hunrichs/Cindy (Kruger)
(2008 FPA World in Bologna) After a series of good routines that fell short of their high standards
Lisa and Cindy finally came through with a crushing performance at the
FPA Worlds in Bologna."
(2005 FPA World in Seattle In may what have been their greatest performance Lisa and Cindy crushed their routine
and the rest of the field winning by an unheard of margin of 16 points over the 2nd place team.Most Influential: Larry Imperiale
Larry Imperiale is one of the most important freestylers of all time.
His experience goes back in time to some of the beginnings of the modern
game. After being mentored by some of the old crust masters he took it
upon himself to mentor the next generation and the next generation after
that. He was one of the few americans who could become a fixture in
Europe, rarely missing an opportunity to play in a big tournament over
there. You can see his influence in how many new young players try to
emulate the master with their brushing, kicking and roll games.
Most Innovative: Paul Kenny
There is little doubt that PK's game is distinctive and unique. Not only
is he the master of the turnover he has innovated numerous new moves and
variations as well. The young Euros are quickly adding his moves to
their expanding repertoires.
Best Beach/Wind Player: Pipo Lopez
Pipo Lopez is the consummate wind master. When the breeze stiffens and
players head for cover Pipo takes it up a notch. Years of playing on his
native Puerto Rico beaches have honed his skills to a fine edge.
Honorable mention for exceptional wind players go to Tom Leitner, Larry
Imperiale and Paul Kenny as well as Sarah Bergman.
Most Athletic: Matt Gauthier
Note Matt's aggressive approach to play, especially when he's a bit late
on a catch or move. He has cat-like quickness, excellent instincts and a
cool calm no matter what the situation is. All reflecting his
experience as a former Soccer Goalie. I'm fairly certain he feels
as though he made the right choice by changing round balls for flat
Most Athletic Women's: Bianca Strunz
Bianca looks like she would be at home on a football pitch, a basketball
court or in a Triathlon. She moves like a cat and has an aggressive
approach to the game reminiscent of Seattle's Brenda Savage.
Best Form Men's: Pat Marron
Pat Marron has almost perfect form. He has as high a level of difficulty
in his game as anyone but makes it all look effortless in his pursuit of
the perfect shred. Watching Pat's long lines and incredible timing and
balance is like watching a clinic on how to be the perfect freestyler.
Best Form Women's: Eleonora Imazio
Ele's elegant form and sense of the dramatic makes for some of the most
interesting freestyle play in the game today. She is always in great
form, always balanced and always poised as she goes through her
individual moves and co-ops.
Top International Player Men's: Fabio Sanna
All the previous beliefs about developing a top player went flying out the window when Fabio Sanna decided he wanted to be an elite player. In a span of only 2 years he was performing at the highest level of the game. As the yeawrs have progressed he is staking a claim to be added to a short list of all-time greats. He has technical ability and innovation far beyond his years. Add perfect form, tremendous balance and a flair for the dramatic and you have the new protype shred master.
Top International Player Women's: Eleonora Imazio
Elie Imazio didn't so much emerge on the freestyle rankings and results, she exploded! She quickly set new standards of play with her elegant style and thoughtful presentation. World Titles in Mixed with partner Fabio Sanna in 2006 at the FPA Worlds and in Women's in 2007 with partner Silvia Caruso were two signficant highlights for her. But the biggest accomplishment is finishing as the #1 ranked Women's Freestyler in the World for the last three years.
Top Performance: Dave Schiller - 2005 FPA Worlds Seattle
Seattle FPA Worlds, Seattle. Open Finals. dropless. 1st Place. Co-op
Finals. Dropless, 1st Place. Mixed Finals. Dropless. 1st Place. Three
World Titles in one afternoon with three dropless performances made this
the greatest freestyle performance of all time. This record can never be
exceeded, only tied.
Jambassador: Steve 'The Beast' Hayes
It is impossible to imagine what the sport of Freestyle would be without
the indomitable spirit of Steve Hayes. He has travelled extensively
touching as many people as he can with his graciousness, patience and
loving spirit. There is not a single freestyler anywhere that has not
benefited in some way from him.