We caught up with the 2022 NZSOTY, Theo Clarke. He gives us the lowdown on SOTY life, recounts the year, and gives his predictions for NZSOTY 2023.

Theo Clarke, backside 50-50 double kink. Photo by Kingsley Attwood.

Theo Clarke, backside 50-50 double kink. Photo by Kingsley Attwood. For Volcom.

So It’s been a few weeks since you were announced as NZSOTY. How’s it going so far?

Haha. Yeah, it’s been good, eh?! Pretty normal until someone congratulates me. I almost forget. I’m feeling blessed. Shout out to everyone.

Zach Wheeler was on the hustle behind the scenes for the announcement. Did you expect anything?

Shot wheeler. That man can get anything done if he puts his brain into it, from boat parties to the best game of skate tournament NZ has ever seen. I didn’t expect anything at all. I was just drinking beers with the lads on a boat, looking at the harbour bridge, until the announcement was made. So gas. Best night. Thank you, Zach.

Theo Clarke in “Ted.” Filmed and edited by Harry Kidman

Have you spent the last prezzie card yet? (Props to NB Numeric for coming to the party.)

Thank you, NB, you da best. I swapped the card for some cash with my mum. She was stoked.

I trip out that it’s been five years since we awarded Simon Thorp as (2017) SOTY. Who are some of the shredders that could have made it as SOTYs over that period?

Yeah, same, to be honest! It’s been a long time. Homeslice Cato Dobbs has been killing it nonstop, as you guys know. His Transworld part was on, and Cato has been ahead of the game for a long time. PJ Wybrow is one of my favourites. He’s been killing it in all of the daylight videos. (You could have given it to the whole daylight team.) James Huntley has been on some shit for a while, ruthlessly killing treetops every morning at 6 am. Nollie badman backtail flip outs for breakfast. Haha. Simon is still SOTY in my eyes, though.

Theo Clarke in “Public Hero.” Filmed and edited by Alexei Foster.

You had a busy year. How was your trip to the US? How did that come about, and who did you skate and stay with?

It was just a follow-up trip from when I went with a couple of homies in 2019 — seeing the people that support me and just getting my face out there. The trip was unreal. I was staying with Hayley from AUS for the first two weeks, just skating with the Nike SB people she was around. My first skate in LA included Atiba and Koston — enough said, really. Haha. I ended up skating a rail with Nyjah and his crew watching me. I got to go on a session with Ishod and a bunch of other crazy names. That day was hectic. I went to Sean Malto’s birthday as well. Haha.

Were there any stand-out moments from the trip?

Malto’s games night party was next, and meeting The ‘Jah. Spending time at Baker Boys was the best. Just hanging out with all those dudes all day was on. I felt at home in a way,  even though that sounds cheesy. Haha.

Theo Clarke, backside Smith grind. Photo by Kingsley Attwood.

Theo Clarke, backside Smith grind. Photo by Kingsley Attwood. For Volcom.

Let’s chat about Gizzy.

The camp was a lot of fun, eh? It was a really great week. Full school camp vibes, but just skating all day with all the homies. It gets me stoked for the years ahead. We had Cato Dobbsy, Charlie “Horse” Aubrey, Jakob Haywood, Nixon Osborne, Shaun Boucher, Bowman Hanson and Simon “The Coach” Thorp. And a bunch of other homeslices from around NZ. Sam Allen was not on the camp this time, but it’s always such a good time skating with him. Big love to all the homies. Sh*t was gas.

You’re a BINZ now as well. The Nationals was a pretty heated competition — Gizzy delivered. What was it like for you?

It was so much fun, eh?!. There’s nothing better than skating with the homies. Just feeding off each other the whole time. That’s what it’s all about.

Everyone was on the edge of their seats during the final best trick session. The skating was intense. Did you think you had it in the bag?

Hard out — the bros were smashing it. I wasn’t really thinking about it, to be honest. I was having so much fun skating with the lads, gassing each other up. It was such a fun day.

What’s a day in the life of an NZSOTY?

Wake up, drink a coffee and go to work @younggunsskateschool, clock at 4:30 and skate Vic or The Square with Cato, Charli and Jamie until he goes back to uni. Hopefully, try and film a trick if it’s a nice sunny day and the filmers are out.

Theo Clarke, five-0 grind, Auckland. Photo by Kingsley Attwood.

Theo Clarke, five-0 grind, Auckland. Photo by Kingsley Attwood.

What’s on the cards for 2023?

I’m going to try to travel and film as much as I can. I definitely want to go back to the states and make a couple of Aus trips for sure.

I know it’s a bit early, but do you have a prediction for NZSOTY2023?

Cato, Charlie, Sam Allen. Or we will see after Rishy’s new #weaotea video (if it drops in 2023). But ya never know. Everyone in NZ is killing it. Actually, maybe Simon.

Last call for shoutouts. Do you have any messages for the people?

Shout out to my mum and dad and everyone else supporting me. You know who you are — big love.

Portrait by Connor Hill.

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