What makes a superstar?Do skills alone? Does a rider have to be an all-around terror to hold this title? I’d answer “no” on both accounts, offering the sport’s divisions as argument. Solid moves in the halfpipe. Slaughters rails. Kill it at contests. Blasphemous in the backcountry. Possess any one of those abilities, there’s a shot you’ve got a contract. But next-level moves don’t guarantee a massive following. There’re a dozen talented shreds who could be mentioned, prime examples of coming up short ’cause their audience appeal is of minor value. It comes down to whether or not their name sells product, if some kid wants enough to be like Mike, JP, or Damian.Another factor to be counted-image. For real or fabricated, the charisma that comes across when a pro’s off hill definitely creates interest and buzz. If there’s a style, a gimmick, it will translate well to their riding.The sad thing is that if you can talk the talk, you don’t necessarily need to back up the hype. Straight up, we could call out those who have had a full ride but can’t fully ride.Missing from this formula? Connections. It’s who you know-a boot in the door, an inside line. To get on the right brand, work with the coolest filmer. The five riders profiled this issue-Andreas Wiig, Shaun White, Nate Bozung, Danny Kass, and JP Solberg-are on their way to superstardom. Potential is evident, time will tell if they’ve got all these variables squarely figured out to make the equation work. Better get to know ’em now.