2016: The Year In Snowboarding
2017 is days away, so it's time to look back at some of the highlights of 2016 in competitive snowboarding and beyond, starting with this woman's bar-raising accomplishments right here. At X Games Oslo 2016 Chloe Kim became the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s in a SuperPipe run. At just 15 years, 10 months old, she also became the youngest athlete to win X Games gold three times in a row. She also won the halfpipe events at the Burton U.S. Open, the U.S. Grand Prix Park City, and both halfpipe and slopestyle at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games. Watch for her to be the biggest story in winter sports as hype builds for her Olympic debut in Pyeonchang in 2018.
Bode Merrill stacked some serious footage in 2016. His extended three-song video part in "Reckless Abandon" overflowed with the creative street tricks he's best known for and earned him Rider of the Year honors at the TransWorld Riders Poll. His edit with filmer John Ray also won him X Games Real Snow Backcountry gold, showing that there is no terrain that he can't conquer, and seriously making the case for Merrill going down as one of the best snowboarders of all time.
Spin to win
Mark McMorris opened 2016 with slopestyle wins at the Laax Open and X Games Aspen, where he brought the first-ever back-to-back triple corks to his run. But a brutal crash at the Air+Style in February, resulting in a snapped right femur, briefly looked like a potential career-ending injury. After a metal rod rebuild and some serious rehab, however, he was back in action in time to win the FIS World Cup Big air event in Korea in November and the Dew Tour's Slopestyle contest in December.
Breaking boundaries and the Internet
Nobody was surprised that Travis Rice and friends got into some heavy terrain in the four-years-in-the-making epic "The Fourth Phase," but many snowboard fans didn't expect the film's highlights of climate change, its deep theories about the nature of water, or the breath-catching footage of Rice getting caught in a wide slab avalanche in Valdez, Alaska. After the film's wildly-anticipated online release briefly broke the Internet (or at least the Red Bull Media House servers), Rice helped roll out a "Know Before You Go" avalanche safety campaign. "Ultimately the most important thing at the end of the day is coming out of the field, with everyone, safely," says Rice.
Full Moon rising
The all-female movie "Full Moon" from Leanne Pelosi and her who's who crew of rippers was a definite highlight of 2016, from its crowdfunding roots on Kickstarter to its raucous world premiere party in Whistler, B.C. "I grew up scouring the pages of snowboard magazines looking for girls I could aspire to become one day," Pelosi says. "This is my way of giving back to the sport that has given so much to me. We're all doing what we love and I hope to inspire people to do the same." TransWorld Snowboarding rolled out a new Influencer Award just for Pelosi at its year-end Riders Poll Awards ceremony.
Stepping it up
Golden girl Jamie Anderson stepped way out of her comfort zone in 2016, joining the Full Moon crew for big mountain lines like this one in the Alaska backcountry. Anderson, who holds four gold, five silver and two bronze X Games Slopestyle medals, also stepped up her Big Air game in 2016, winning the FIS World Cup events in Canada, Korea and China as she preps for the event's Olympic debut in 2018.
The 2016 iteration of Peace Park premiered on World of X Games and featured plenty of the next-level terrain park re-imagining we've come to expect from Danny Davis and friends. But it was this shot of the whole gang bombing a powder run on binding-less boards that truly captured the vibe of snowboarding. "Those days, when it all works out so perfectly and everything is just pure fun," says Davis. "There's nothing like it."
Cheryl on top
Cheryl Maas' 900 tail grab at X Games Oslo 2016 won her the gold in front of her adopted hometown in the first X Games Women's Snowboard Big Air contest held since 2001. While much has been made of freeskier Gus Kenworthy coming out as gay in 2015, Maas kissing her long-time wife, Stine Brun Kjeldass, (also an X Games gold medalist) after sticking the landing served as a reminder that Kenworthy certainly isn't the only LGBT athlete in action sports. "The only goal I ever had when I was a little girl was winning X Games Big Air," Maas said, celebrating in the paddock with Kjeldass and their daughters Lara and Mila. "It means everything to me to perform in front of my little girls and my wife and my family. It's the best feeling ever."
The godfather returns
Bryan Iguchi, now well into his third decade of reinventing snowboarding, never really went away but still managed to make 2016 into a reemergence moment. He marked his 42nd year on Earth with a new signature snowboard, a marquee role in Travis Rice's film "The Fourth Phase," a major show of his paintings at Asymbol gallery, and a strange, surreal, artsy and downright transcendent part for X Games Real Snow Backcountry.
Spin to win
After the first quadruple cork spins went down in the lead-up to X Games Aspen 2016, pressure was on to see if they could be done in competition. Turns out, not quite. Max Parrot, one of the quad contenders after landing a switch quad underflip 1620 in 2015, let his Cab triple cork 1800 suffice.