The winners of Laureus World Sports Awards will be named on February 7 in Abu Dhabi, and six action sports athletes will be in the crowd hoping to hear their name.
The nominees for Action Sportsperson of the Year are Shaun White, for achievements in snowboarding and skateboarding, surfers Stephanie Gilmore and Kelly Slater, BMX vert champion Jamie Bestwick, FMX teenage sensation Levi Sherwood, and Spanish windsurfer Victor Fernandez.
Other categories for Laureus Awards are sportsman and sportswoman of the year, team of the year, breakthrough of the year, comeback of the year, and sportsperson of the year with a disability. Household names such as Kobe Bryant, Serena Williams, and Lindsey Vonn are also among the nominees. See a complete list of the nominees here.
The Laureus Awards are chosen through a two-part process. First, a panel of sports editors, writers, and broadcasters vote to select a shortlist of nominees across seven categories. Then, the 46 members of the Laureus Sports Academy -- including Tony Hawk -- choose the winners by secret ballot. The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation supports initiatives around the world that use the power of sport for social change.
At first, Bestwick couldn't believe he was nominated. "You get a lot of stuff that comes through the mail and you don't know if it's quite right or not," Bestwick said. "I was quite overwhelmed because the level of talent that they have to choose from throughout the world is pretty outstanding."
Bestwick won his sixth Dew Cup in 2010, as well as claiming his seventh X Games gold medal to complete the first four-peat in BMX vert. He says it is an honor to be nominated for a Laureus. "To me, it means so much because it's a validation of all the things I've done on my bicycle," he said.
Sherwood hadn't heard of the awards before his manager broke the news of his nomination, and it took some explaining to grasp the scale of the recognition.
"When [my manager] told me that Shaun White and Kelly Slater were nominated, that's when it hit me," Sherwood said. "I'm just excited and just to be nominated next to Shaun White after what he did at the Olympics last year. I grew up watching him, that's what means the most."
White's nomination follows a year in which he won Olympic gold and became the first athlete to win gold medals at both Winter and Summer X Games. Gilmour, who won the Action category in 2010, earned her fourth Laureus nomination after winning her fourth ASP title. Slater's nomination recognizes his dominance over the last 20 years, culminating with the tenth ASP world championship he won in 2010. Sherwood won events in Moscow and London on the Red Bull X-Fighters Tour, then took silver at the Summer X Games. Fernandez was also a champion last year, and has more World Cup victories in the last five years than any of his peers.
While Sherwood has a prior commitment with Nitro Circus and can't attend the ceremony, Bestwick will be there with camera in hand to capture the stars. He predicts Abu Dhabi royalty will attend and Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey is slated to host.
"There is some phenomenal talent [in the Action category]," Bestwick said. "Whatever happens, happens. Whoever walks away with the Laureus, I hope they appreciate it."