These awards are of course meant to celebrate excellence within our industry. But with every winner, there inevitably will be a loser.
We’ve all heard the phrase “You win some, you lose some.”
It is a phrase specifically spoken by losers. You never hear an individual gripped with the intoxicating aroma of victory recite those words. Nonetheless, while we appreciate and acknowledge the hard work of all of those who did not get nominated—we still want to highlight our standouts from the year as an ode to those who consume the content created by this industry as ravenously as we do.
We all love to hate the awards. It’s an appendage of the process we don’t revel in, but a byproduct of the process that is impossible to avoid. Deciding the rider/footage/rookie/etc. of the year, as we know, is an imperfect system. That is of course if the perfect system existed. You see, when making decisions based on nebulous impressions as opposed to empirical data, there’s always room for doubt. Nonetheless, we have once again modified our polling system for the 2023 SLUSHIE awards with confidence that it has improved the process.
After last year’s general outcry that Salt Lake City had too much voting power, we amended our constitution. This year we only allowed 40 people to vote. We gave the responsibility to the list of nominees that have occurred since our award’s inception in 2021—the past nominees for Rider of the Year, Footage of the Year, and Rookie of the Year. 40 names that we as a staff agreed put on the best showing in their respective disciplines for that year.
Our staff put together a list of this year’s nominees, sent the ballot to the 40 names, and got our results.
This category, though seemingly self explanatory, takes a wide range of variables into consideration. Not only does the ideal candidate have footage, photos and/or contest results, but they also offer something that we believe is a positive direction for the industry at large. Be it progression, the creation of community, leadership of a project, or just a general work ethic that’s hard to put into words. These are the SLUSH 2023 Rider of the Year candidates.
The architect and protagonist of Fleeting Time, Ben Ferguson has cemented his growing reputation as the next top dog in backcountry riding. His fierce, powerful prowess on board made him the star of the film, grabbing notable lines and the ending shot of the movie. In addition to a top-tier video performance, Ben also performed incredibly well at the Natural Selection Tour, making it to the quarterfinals in Jackson Hole, the semifinals at Baldface, and third place in Alaska.
McMorris checked about as many boxes as a single rider could do in a season. And as if “doing it all” wasn’t enough to get him the ROTY nod, he did it all at the highest caliber. Taking home a bronze medal at the 2022 Olympics and a gold in slope at the X Games, McMorris stamped his name once again on the competitive season as one of the best in the field. In addition to contest wins, McMorris filmed impressive footage in two marquee projects, Fleeting Time and Ark. His full part in Ark contains triples in the backcountry among other noteworthy maneuvers.
Appearing in the Impaler vid’s Sum Shit, which as far as we are concerned was just a vessel to showcase the riding of Mike Liddle, we feel like Liddle has gone underappreciated for too long. His unprecedented ability to do the biggest and most technical rail tricks made him the street standout by a long shot this season, and hence, we felt he was absolutely one of the riders of the year.
Nabbing ender part in Bahamas, one of the year’s better video offerings, Sebbe De Buck really put Europe on his back. A rider whose footage pushed him onto this list, his ability to stand out amongst a pack of riders went well beyond his physical height. A long time contest rider, and one of the riders to be invited to the 2022 Natural Selection tour, Sebbe had a landmark year.
Though he doesn’t take the traditional route when it comes to determining the year’s best rider, it is undeniable that Zeb Powell is one of the most exciting and celebrated riders in our industry right now. His ability to go viral on social media is touched by, well, no one right now. Zeb is also an integral part of the Culture Shifters event in Burton that aims to create a more diverse space for BIPOC individuals in snowboarding as well as the founding and prominent member of the Slide-In Tour which creates community among the East Coast.
With an opening part in Ark that sets the tone for the future of women’s big mountain riding, the notion that Hight has officially taken the next step in her career beyond contest riding is no longer up for debate. Her big lines landed her on the cover of both SNOWBOARD Mag and SLUSH, while her skill on the steeps went deeper than video parts as she was named overall tour champion at Natural Selection after taking first place at Jackson, second place at Baldface, and narrowly missing the podium with a fourth place finish in Alaska.
Ivika’s two-year project Vitamin was arguably the best showcase of street riding all year, which is really saying something considering the caliber of contenders it will be matched against. Finally able to abstain from injury and put her full effort into a video project, there is no question in our minds that Ivika was one of the year’s best riders.
Organizing and co-creating From the Bottom of One’s Heart, a queer-rider-centered Vans project, filming some of their best clips to date in the Van’s project It’s Love, a Torment cover, and their ceaseless work with Seen Snowboarding, Kennedi Deck has been an inspiration to snowboarders of all walks of life and continues to be a role model for all those who stand sideways.
It would be appropriate to say that Maria put the team on her back this season as she led the charge in organizing and creating the best all-women’s street project, potentially ever. With impressive footage herself, a cover, and the continuation of her switch riding capabilities, we think without a knee injury mid-season, nothing would have held her back from being the number one.
Zoi has more accolades than any rider in 2022, and her standout performance makes her a no-brainer for the short list of the year’s best. After taking home a gold in Olympic slopestyle, X Games slopestyle, X Games big air, and a silver in big air at the Olympics, Zoi rounded out her contest results with a first place finish at Natural Selection Tour in Baldface, plus third in Alaska. On top of her competitive dominance she also had a handful of clips in the winter blockbuster, Fleeting Time.
By far the hardest category to narrow down, and perhaps the most debated in the industry. The, “What makes a rookie?” question is again, hard to pin down when you steer away from using statistics, like say, the NBA would. Last year, we felt we gave out a couple nominations too early, so we are really making a push to tighten the handle on what makes one a rookie. And while there is no exact set of requirements, here are a few facts we seem to stand by: if you have had an energy drink sticker on your helmet for more than two years, you are not a rookie. If you’ve had a major international contest podium in the previous two years, you are not a rookie. If you have filmed more than one video part, not a rookie. If you have already been nominated for Rookie of the Year, you cannot be a rookie. With all this in mind, these are the SLUSH 2023 Rookie of the Year candidates.
Setting the world record highest halfpipe air, Kaishi Hirano did what is arguably the most memorable act of the entire Winter Olympics. Younger brother to Ayumo, Hirano came onto the scene in a big way this year. Let’s be honest, not even Shaun White himself was able to achieve the world record highest air during his long career, and Kaishu accomplished it almost immediately.
Getting the whole internet talking after his ender part in Sinister films’ Quicksand, Sam Anderson made the industry as a whole scratch their collective heads. Doing pretzels, 270 variations, and challenge rails that would make even the most experienced jibbers concerned, Sam Anderson made it known in 2022 that he is someone to watch out for.
The Hood River native had a big year after winning the Laax Open and snagging the fourth and final spot of the US Olympic team—a seat that was being fought over by many individuals who had taken the snowboard spotlight years prior to Sean. On top of getting pulled into Hurley’s snow roster and making waves on social media all summer at Hood, we feel that Sean had his breakout year in 2022.
The Manboys’ chosen one, Miskiman had impressive footage on some of Canada’s biggest known jumps, probably capstoned by his massive frontside 360 on the stepmother jump first made popular by the Wildcats long ago. As he continues to outride people twice his age, we know this Canuck is here for the long haul.
Beyond the 1260 she stomped at the Nines this winter, Mia Brookes has been at the forefront of proper style when it comes to riders who are still in their teenage years. This UK rider who spends most of her time in Laax will for sure be one of the next generation of snowboard royalty.
Filming memorable clips with the WOP crew, Labyrinth’s The Labryss, and a couple cameos in Vitamin, Venla is following in the footsteps of last year's rookie nominee Henna Ikola as a European shredder turning heads across the Atlantic. With spot and trick selection right on trend, her ability to pop up in many of the year’s most discussed projects has landed her a nod as rookie of the year.
Taking first place in the “Be Somebody” Dustbox rail jam and filming clips in Volcom’s Creedlecosm, Wint’s blossoming career has hit a highpoint in 2022, and we believe she is an obvious contender for the rookie category. Her prowess in unique spot selection combined with the uncanny ability to put down the landing gear, she is certainly heading places.
To be nominated in this category, the rules are simple. The video has to be longer than 20 minutes. We feel that this naturally separates the two tiers of video projects. Though there are always exceptions, this is the system with which we’ve been running, and we believe it works out in the end. The following videos depict excellence in riding, editing, and overall impression.
We came for the cinematic intro scene that rivals Hollywood quality and we stayed for the smooth and quintessential style that has become synonymous with the Beyond Medals crew. Last of a dying breed in a film that offers top-level backcountry and street, this project truly has something for everyone. From the high energy start found in Ulrik Badertscher’s part, to the highly discussed Sebbe De Buck ender, the Beyond Medals boys have done it again.
Riders: Kevin Backstrom, Tor Lundstrom, Sebbe De Buck, Ludvig Billtoft, Ulrik Badertscher, Zak Hale, Tyler Nicholson.
Filmed by: Marcus Skin, Ryan Scardigli, Lorenzo Peters, Christian Bjonnes, Johannes Brenning, Jarsi, Ben Gustafsson.
Edited by: Kevin Backstrom
Volcom Stone presents CreedleCosm, a cinematic chrysalis of endless snowboarding possibilities starring the adventurous, creative, communal magic of volcom’s roster. Shot on location in Utah, British Columbia, New Hampshire, Michigan, California and Iowa, this moving picture takes us through all types of snowboarding in some of our culture’s most famed locations.
Riders: Mike Rav, Scott Blum, Desiree Melancon, Egan Wint, Seb Picard, Arthur Longo, Lenny Mazzotti, Torgeir Bergrem, Pat Moore, Bryan Iguchi, Jadyn Chomlack, Juliette Pelchat, Estelle Pensiero, Jamie Lynn, Alec Majerus, Simon Bannerot.
Directed and Edited by: Seth Huot
Filmed by: Skylar Brent, Seth Huot and Olivier Gittler
The Dustbox’s comradery continues to push their movie projects to the forefront of street snowboarding and Fall in Place is another landmark in the lore of snowboarding’s trendiest street crew. As these riders help define what modern street snowboarding looks like, their spot selection, song choice, and trick choice continue to set the standard that many others follow.
Riders: Noah Peterson, Jonas Harris, Dan McGonagle, Reid Smith, Brett Kulas, Nate Hanson, Robby Meehan, Noah Brown, Rob Roethler, Ryan Collins, Jordan Morse, Spencer Schubert, Mo Jennings, Garrett Whaley, Cooper Whittier, Cody Warble, Tommy Towns.
Filmed by: Nate Hanson, Bryden Bowley, Mo Jennings, Colt Morgan
This two-year project has been heavily anticipated by snowboard fans for quite some time, and the final product was an indication of the hard work and dedication it takes to film in the backcountry. An unrelenting testament to what snowboarding’s biggest names in contest riding are capable of without a bib, this action-filled flick features death defying terrain in such abundance it almost does itself a disservice by desensitizing the viewer to such extreme circumstances.
Riders: Ben Ferguson, Gabe Ferguson, Red Gerard, Jared Elston, Curtis Ciszek, Austin Smith, Ayumu Hirano, Kaishu Hirano, Raibu Katayama, Hailey Langland, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, Mark McMorris, Danny Davis, Mikkel Bang, Travis Rice.
Filmed by: Justin Eeles, Joe Carlino, Malachi Gerard, Homestead Creative
As the part based movie becomes less common, the tried and true formula works wonders for Ark, as a great variation of individual styles are showcased throughout this viewing experience. With street riding the only form of snowboarding not really pictured, this film broadcasts just how impressive one season of filming can be. From Elena Hight’s large spine lines, to Nick Russell splitboarding his way up our world’s highest peaks, to Mark McMorris effortlessly chucking triples into powder. Other highlights include Brock Crouch teeing off what we assume is the biggest backcountry jump of the season, Mike Cicarelli reminding all of us why he left the contest scene to go film, and Danny Davis proving once again that he is the swiss army knife of snowboarding.
Riders: Danny Davis, Elena Hight, Mark McMorris, Mark Sollors, Mikey Rencz, Raibu Katayama, Gigi Ruf, Brock Crouch, Mike Cicarelli.
Filmed by: Gabe Langois, Florian Eckhardt, Aaron Hooper, Rafe Robinson, Tim Manning, Justin Eeles, Jeff Keenan, Nathan Yant, Nori Watanabe, Paul Watt, Pascal Gallant, Sean Clawson, Joey Sackett, Eric Boyd.
Edited by: Lance Violette
It’s not a new sentiment to suggest that European snowboarders have to work harder to gain notoriety in the states. But with that being said we would add the caveat that the euro street snowboarders have an even harder time historically breaking into the mainstream. We must offer this fact up as the reasoning why this cast of snowboarders is so incredibly good at what they do. They have to go above and beyond to be recognized, and that they are. Hexagon was a thorough piece that showcased street snowboarding in the best possible way.
Riders: Toni Kerkela, Sebi Springeth, Kas Lemmens, Dominik Wagner, Benny Urban, Max Zebe
Filmed by Marco Morandi, Tim Schiphorst, Alex Pfeffer
To be nominated in this category, the video has to be shorter than 20 minutes. Considering the current landscape of media in snowboarding, this is by far the most ‘robust’ category. Most video projects fall into this category, and therefore narrowing down that list offers quite a bit of contention between the staff here at SLUSH. Inter-company fighting aside, here’s what we landed on.
Every now and then, a movie is created that wreaks so strongly of originality that it cannot be ignored. As so many videos in today’s day follow a similar sort of formula, when one breaks the mold successfully, the results can be groundbreaking. That is exactly what happened with Assisted Living. A collaboration between Spencer Schubert, Mikey Leblanc, and Justin Meyer, this video has a certain x-factor that we here at SLUSH are confident will put this video into the history books. Not only is Mikey Leblanc’s triumphant return an accoutrement to this video, but the mind boggling toboggan clips alone are enough to nominate this project.
Riders: Mikey Leblanc, Spencer Schubert, Jill Perkins, Bob Plumb, Tommy Gesme, Riley Nickerson, Savannah Shinske, Jed Anderson, Blake Paul, Eric Messier, Caleb Flowers, Nick Dirks, Jordan Morse, Louif Paradis, Mark Wilson, Jeremy Jones, Ian Boll.
Film and Edit: Justin Meyer
With such a thorough and robust offering of tricks, challenging spots, and personality, this video had it all and then some. Regardless of whether this video takes the title in the voting, SLUSH acknowledges this as one of the best videos in the last five years. The level of riding shown by the ladies in this film will set a new standard for years to come.
Riders: Maria Thomsen, Nora Beck, Ylfa Runnarsdottir, Grace Warner.
Film and Edit: Dave Walcer
This collaboration between two of snowboarding’s most known creative riders is a match made in heaven as the filming, spot and trick selection all align to make this a memorable watch. Bode Merrill and Nils Mindnich are two of the most inventive riders in modern snowboarding with a resume of past projects to prove it. Their collaboration in this endeavor was so effective that one could ask the question, “Why hadn’t they done this sooner?”
Riders: Bode Merrill, Nils Mindich.
Filmed by: Shane Charlebois
Edit By: Cody Rosenthal
It has become an accepted fact that anything created by Austen Sweeten and Sean Lucey is going to be one of the top productions of the year. As these two synchronize their styles once again, Blur is a welcomed enjoyable addition to the catalog of these two greats. According to Sweetin, "This film, to me, is like improv jazz. It's spontaneous snowboarding that was composed on the spot."
Riders: Austen Sweetin, Phil Hansen, Jamie Lynn, Chris Rasman, Blake Paul, Jared Elston, Mason Lemery, Matt Belzile, Jody Wachniak.
Film and Edit: Sean Lucey
A project that ushers in the new class of Salomon riders, Foyer features a mix of both street and powder that balances the scales of a well rounded project. While each rider seems to take a stab at both sides of the terrain coin, standout clips from Emma Crosby, Luke Lund, and Gian Sutter make this a memorable addition to the list of short films from the season.
And as the backbone to this film stays rooted in the new riders, the entrance of Tommy Gesme gives a strong connection to the Salomon all-stars we have grown to love.
Riders: Blake Moller, Luke Lund, Johan Nordhag, Emma Crosby, Tommy Gesme, Gian Sutter.
Film and Edit: Brendon Hupp
Trying to categorize the magic that is made by the WOP crew would be like trying to categorize the feeling that induces a smile. It’s elusive, hard to put into words, but so very real as it’s unfolding. Maybe it's Dr. Luti’s ungodly skill on a snowboard, maybe it’s Neil's Schack’s unorthodox approach to riding a board. Hell, it’s both of those things and then some. Not sure what else to say other than–This 10 minute watch just had that special something.
Riders: Niels Schack, Sami Luhtanen, Johnny O Connor, Sparrow Knox, Venla Mustonen, Antti Jussila and Forest Bailey
Filmed and Edited by: Tobbe Tiusanen
This award is a celebration of those individuals that let the riding do the talking. The riders that put in such hard work during the winter, their results yielded something that we believe left an impression on the industry as a whole. Another bead in the abacus of snowboarding’s lifelong story through video. With this category, we tried our best to consider both street and backcountry options, and thus make a representation of the riders who excelled in front of the lens.
In an article about Fleeting Time published on redbull.com, Tom “T-Bird” Monterosso said it perfectly, “A small yet elite list of names refused to slip through the cracks of snowboarding’s foundation and instead, read the writing on the wall and have the gumption to transition away from the competitive scene while still at the top of the ranks in order to set the groundwork for the second coming of their storied careers. And at this very moment, it’s Ben Ferguson’s time.” Bagging lines that keep the viewer gripped from the comfort of their couch, to gap jumps that would make even the most seasoned contest kids shake, Ferguson put on a spectacle and set the bar higher for what is to be expected from a rider filming a video part.
Bode Merrill has more video parts under his belt than most, and his creative approach to filmmaking hits yet another milestone with Space Cadet, a collaboration with Nils Mindnich that brings a certain level of whimsical trick selection that is seldom seen in a backcountry based movie. It’s almost as though he takes his quirky trick list and applies it to cliffs and lines the size of which even the most seasoned riders wouldn’t straight air.
Forest Bailey is no stranger to producing footage that gets the industry talking, and this year with his release of I Won’t Be Long, Bailey adds another title to the list of notable parts. Forest has a way of inducing an, “Oh no he didn’t,” effect on the viewers as his exit from any given spot can take a turn for the better that no one was expecting. Although we should probably see it coming by now, considering he constantly keeps us guessing with his next-level trick combinations done with an ease that could only come from someone with the best board control.
The contradiction between how soft spoken Mike is in comparison to the intensity of his clips is something we revel in here at SLUSH. A silent assassin who REALLY lets the riding do the talking, Mike Liddle’s quiet personality is perhaps the only thing keeping him from being discussed by the industry as a whole as one of the best. Regardless of that, his footage from this season offered so much, we nominated him as a rider of the year.
Lofty doubles, big switch backside 180s on stepdowns, tweaks, pokes, chicken wings, tree taps and more, none of us could create a list of our favorite footage of the year without mentioning Sebbe. Grabbing the final part in the Bahamas, Sebbe De Buck rose above the crop of already stylish riders and produced one of the most memorable parts of the season.
Thank you for your Patience was a project that, well, really was never meant to be. Or at least there wasn't a plan to make something at the beginning of the season. However, Dylan’s obsessive need to film ended up providing a showcase of the skill and determination that left our staff, and countless viewers, stunned. The behemoth street spots he took down with a scowl on his face burned a hole in our memory, and he was a clear choice for a nomination when we put our heads together for who filmed the best stuff of the season. The inherent underdog nature of Dylan has an additional appeal, and we hope this nomination helps shed light on how incredible of a rider he is.
Ivika’s solo part, Vitamin, was an important and healthy addition to this year’s video pool. Spiked rainbow fences, countless kinks, elbow rails, presse, boardslides. Knobbed rails, building gaps. Ivika really covered all her bases with this superb display of street boarding and landed herself among the short list of riders who fight for the title of best footage.
Nora Beck not only filmed some of the biggest and baddest tricks of the year, but showcased just how much work that it takes, also producing a wince-worthy crash reel. Jumping from rooftops, handling steep kinks, and spinning every which way in and out, Beck stood out unanimously to our staff as a necessary nominee.
While most of the contenders in this category filmed exclusively in the streets, Elena Hight sends shivers down the spine. We mean that literally and figuratively as her opening part in Ark showcases some of the best spine riding we have ever seen from a female part. Cruising couloirs in the calm and collected fashion that can only be seen from a seasoned pro, Elena solidified the notion that she is at the top of her game right now.
Though Ylfa’s clips are predominantly filmed in the streets, she showcases the reality that she has some of the strongest fundamentals in the game, mixing up technical and massive street footage with a solid number of flips and spins, proving she is much more of an ATV than many competing for this title.
With Some of the most memorable clips in an already impressive movie, Shinske’s ability to conquer big kinks with power and grace in Bookclub’s Loser Lap left a lasting impression on our staff, especially considering this was one of the first movies to drop all season. While she has a few clips scattered throughout, her ending sequence in the movie really drives the nomination home.
Amidst proper presses, catch-worthy kinks, fence gaps and vent jams, Kennedi’s power in the streets seems to grow with each passing year, and their footage this year was top-notch. As a prominent member of the Vans project, It’s Love, Kennedi has once again ridden their way into a footage of the year nomination.
In an effort to recognize the people, projects, and initiatives that have elevated the snowboarding conversation by greatly enriching our culture over the last year, SLUSH created the Forward Lean Award. Each of the initiatives nominated for the 2023 SLUSH Forward Lean Award have enhanced the connection to snowboarding for riders around the world, and while we are ultimately bestowing this accolade upon the endeavor that proved most resonant with the pros tasked with determining an outcome, each of the following six nominees deserves to be applauded for how they have enriched the mosaic of our collective snowboarding community.
In a world where “talking the talk” often overshadows the people who are walking the walk, we wanted to recognize an entity that is not only combatting the expensive cost of lift tickets, but also an event that is truly inclusive of everyone. Spearheaded by Max Warbington, Brain Bowl sessions promote a community of shredders coming together at no cost to create a custom park for all to enjoy. This grassroots effort to make snowboarding more inclusive is a key example of someone doing the hard work to make a change.
Snowboarding’s identity is shifting. It’s a conscious effort by its constituents to address the blaring privilege that snowboarding’s very existence is based in. And while this process is long overdue, there are some key players in instituting real change at a remarkable pace. Now in its second year, Culture Shifters is an event in Aspen that is put on by Burton, Selema Masekela, and Zeb Powell to unite and promote the growing number of BIPOC riders in the snowboarding space.
Somebody’s Thinking About You is a 501-C3 non-profit coalition dedicated to fighting the stigmas surrounding mental illness in action sports by providing ways to educate, navigate, communicate, and commiserate all things relating but not limited to anxiety, depression, grief, esteem, addiction, self-harm, suicide ideation, and suicide itself. The coalition is run by Deisree Melancon, and continues to grow its resources.
Ayee Esse Happening is a growing event-based initiative that celebrates culture in the outdoors and continues to build a community that transcends cultural barriers for this generation and the next. Brought to you by Russell Winfield, the Ayee Esse Happening at Bear Mountain featured music, a mini pipe competition, and a collaboration of opinion leaders in the space.
Pat Moore has taken responsibility in the promotion of the health and safety of his fellow pro-shreds by organizing a course that helps teach rescue, first-aid, and emergency training in the backcountry. By enriching a wide-range of riders with information that could help save the lives of any individual stepping into the backcountry, this class truly takes a selfless approach to the improvement of our industry as a whole.
Park Affair is a women’s foundation, rooted in snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing with the mission to inspire, motivate, uplift, and create a space for women to push their limits. Mercedes Ortega and Haley Ronconi grew up snowboarding through their families and soon fell in love with the community and values that came with it. With one major goal in mind, “To create a space in the terrain park for women to feel confident and unstoppable,” they founded Park Affair and began to hold events at resorts in the north eastern U.S. Their platform holds a wide variety of ways to get involved such as camps, mentorships, community involvement, donation drives, gear support, edits, and events.