The Best Riders In The World!

Who are the best snowboarders out there? We all have our opinions, and we know from the TWS mailbags that you do, too.

But who really knows which rider is pushing it the hardest, progressing, and destroying it and themselves for the sport? Judges? Magazine editors? Team managers? You? Nope. (Your voices were heard in the Readers’ Choice category.) The best pro snowboarders know who’s guinea-pigging the gnarly jumps, who’s pulling the most technical tricks off icy kickers, who’s pushing the levels, who’s killing it, who’s all hype, and who’s under-hyped. They’re the ones standing at the top of jumps, the bottom of slopestyle courses, and the peaks of Alaskan mountains … they see things-and they talk.

You want to know who the best riders in the world think the best riders in the world are? Here it is. We polled hundreds of top riders from the U.S. to Canada; Scandinavia to Europe; and Australia to New Zealand; and then compiled the results-these aren’t just opinions anymore-they’re facts.-Annie Fast

The Riders’ Poll Awards Show

Being voted best snowboarder by your peers is kind of a big deal, so instead of shooting out a boring e-mail or a press release to the industry, TWS throws a huge awards party. The Riders’ Poll has evolved (and sometimes regressed) over the years. It’s moved from the strip at Vegas to the Gaslamp district of San Diego, and it’s gone from showgirls to the Suicide Girls; from Social D to DJ Jefrodisiac; from Kevin and Tara to, well, the Dingo.

This year was similar to awards shows past-drinks got drunk, awards were presented, girls danced onstage, and snowboarders got kicked out. Thanks to the sponsors for making it all possible: American Suzuki Motor Corporation, K2 Snowboards, Neoproto Films, 686 Clothing, ThirtyTwo, and etnies.

Riders’ Poll Categories

Rider Of The Year: When you look back on it, every season evokes a particular rider or group of riders-people who were on point, on fire, and, very simply, on top. Past winners include Janna Meyen and Travis Rice, Gretchen Bleiler and Shaun White, Tara Dakides and Kevin Jones, Tara Dakides and Kevin Jones, Tara Dakides and … yeah, some riders’ moment in the limelight is longer than others.

Rookie Of The Year: The world of snowboarding is packed with starry-eyed kids full of talent and potential, but the harsh realities of injury and burnout are the real dictators of how the future will unfold. This category is a forum of hope-it’s where the world’s top shreds are putting their money for the future of snowboarding. Pay attention, because if all goes according to plan, the winners of this category will be popping up their heads as Rider Of The Year nominees in years to come.

Standout Of The Year: Replacing Rockstar Of The Year from polls past, this category honors riders who threw all the chips down, who went above and beyond the call of duty to achieve something truly astounding during the winter in question-an unprecedented trick, a nasty AK line, or maybe even just one record-breaking jump. We’re talking the stuff that fuels stories around the campfire at night. We’re talking about the stuff of legends.

Readers’ Choice: What’s that? Complaining about who won? How they didn’t deserve it? How if you were the person voting, you would’ve given the award to blah, blah blah, blah blah? Well, the Readers’ Choice award is your chance to step up to the Riders’ Poll plate. TransWorld posts a ballot on transworldsnowboarding.com every year, and within a few hours of putting it up, we’ll have hundreds of votes from complainers, know-it-alls, and high-and-mighties the world over. That’s right, sweet justice is only a mouse click away.

Riders’ Poll

Standout Of The Year

Josh Dirksen: June Mountain hip session

Age: 29

Hometown: Bend, Oregon

Sponsors: Salomon, Bonfire, Boost Mobile, DaKine, Scott, Mt. Bachelor, Exit Real World

Hampus Mosessen: The ttle hip, Sweden (see page ?)

Age: 22

Hometown: Ostersund, Sweden

Sponsors: Gnu, Quiksilver, ThirtyTwo, etnies, Grenade, Neff

Mads Jonsson: Hemsedal kicker, Norway

Age: 22

Hometown: Oslo, Norway

Sponsors: Burton, Burton Life, Dragon

Mads Jonsson forged a name for himself boosting obscenely high airs off the Hemsedal hip in Norway, and since then we’ve become accustomed to-hell, expectant of-Mads’ airs of excess. This year he took it a step further and captured a world record. Surprisingly, it was on neither hip nor quarter, and the record broken was one of distance, rather than height. On a lonely Hemsedal kicker, Mads set down a colossal 187-foot-long frontside 360-and then broke his hand attempting a backside seven of the same proportions. A truly incredible feat, to be sure. Consider this: the world distance record for a motorcycle is 260 feet-in other words, Mads flew three quarters as far as a fully suspended dirtbike, on faith and cajones-with only his knees to absorb the landing. Hey, they don’t hand out nicknames like “Big Nads Mads” for nothing.

Rookie Of The Year:

Scotty Lago

Age: 17

Hometown: Seabrook, New Hampshire

Sponsors: Flow, Billabong, Smith, Grenade, Neff

Mikey Rencz

Age: 19

Hometown: Canmore, Alberta, Canada

Sponsors: Burton, Electric, Red Bull, Gravis, Circle

Eero Niemela

Age: 21

Hometown: Ojakkala, Finland

Sponsors: K2, Volcom, Anon, Wildcats, Trulli Clan

Eero Niemela might be Rookie Of The Year, but he isn’t completely green. With bit parts in films like The Wildcats’ Nine Lives and a featured section in Defective’s Promo Copy last year, he’s been hovering just on the periphery, quietly honing his skill.

The young Finn finally came into his own for ’05, however, and the dam quickly burst-a fluid style and tech tricks garnered the kid respect and recognition everywhere he travelled. From Japanese slopestyles to the Innsbruck Air And Style and even chucking at Mt. Hood summer sessions, snowshreds took note. And that smooth Finnish style was applied to every situation, including rails, hardpacked jumps, and powder kickers. All this was captured on film, earning Eero his crowning achievement-the much-coveted ender part in this season’s Whiteout Films’ The Big Blind. Eero has made the transition from an up-and-comer and came on up-we’re hyped to see him progress and mature in the future. Holler.

Rider Of The Year

Antti Autti

Age: 20

Hometown: Rovaniemi, Finland

Sponsors: Flow, Billabong, Von Zipper, DaKine, Nokia, Giro

Name: Danny Kass

Age: 22

Hometown: Vernon, New Jersey

Sponsors: Gnu, Vans, Grenade, Boost Mobile, Jack’s Garage, The Office, Propaganda, Mammoth, Agency, Fatigue Project

Chad Otterstrom

Age: 29

Hometown: Breckenridge, Colorado

Sponsors: Academy, Bonfire, Defcon, Zeal, Active Ride Shop, Alycium, Bluebird, MDP, Breckenridge Resort

The TWS Team Challenge served up a healthy dose of foreshadowing as Chad Otterstrom won the popular vote for best overall rider and best pipe rider. Well, now the entire pro population has weighed in and voted him Rider Of The Year!

Let’s break it down: As a general rule, pro riders slow down as their careers extend into the horizon-and then there’s Chad. Otterstrom rides with the energy and enthusiasm of a twelve-year-old grom with a shop sponsor. He isn’t jaded, nor is he over it-or showing signs of the inevitable slowdown. In fact, Chad was so “pumped to be stoked” in ’05 that he pulled off one of his most productive, all-encompassing seasons. He had fun, stayed healthy, and impressed judges and jury throughout the nation, winning nearly every contest he attended, all while completing a featured section in MDP’s From ___, With Love.

On the contest tip, Chad smoked the Gravity Games for two firsts in slopestyle and the night rail jam. Then he completely dominated Burton’s Abominable Snow Jam in Oregon. He took the highest-air award and best trick on the quarterpipe, fourth place and best trick in the pipe, and the overall title. So, yeah, being humble, positive, and terrifyingly well-rounded-that’s what it takes if you want to be like Chad Otterstrom and Rider Of The Year one day.

Readers’ Choice:

Danny Kass

Age: 22

Hometown: Vernon, New Jersey

Sponsors: Gnu, Vans, Grenade, Boost Mobile, Jack’s

Garage, The Office, Propaganda, Mammoth Mountain, Agency,

Fatigue Project

Eddie Wall

Age: 24

Hometown: Mammoth Lakes, California

Sponsors: Jeenyus, DC Shoes, Agency, Foursquare, Smith, Grenade, Vestal, Mammoth Mtn., Jack’s Garage, Dublins

Travis Rice

Age: 22

Hometown: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Sponsors: Oakley, Lib Tech, RedBull, DC Shoes, Amp’d Mobile, Tylenol/Ouch!, Jack’s Garage, Grenade, Bluebird, Jackson Hole

So it’s official: Everyone wants a piece of the Trice-even you! Travis Rice’s popularity literally exploded after his oversized kicker shenanigans on Chad’s Gap in Utah. And he hasn’t let off the gas pedal since. With no loss of stoke or momentum, Trice has forged onward. Unsatisfied with a single movie part, Trice and friends created their own production company and turned out the big-budget Community Project this season, filled with Travis’ usual tucks, hucks, and supersized stunts. The Man also filmed for the DC Mountain Lab Video throughout the year, and, in his own words, “Rode more powder than anyone else this season.” To top it off, he took a bronze in the X-Games slopestyle and shocked everyone when he cracked the top ten in halfpipe!

Rookie Of The Year-Women

Molly Aguirre

Age: 21

Hometown: Mammoth Lakes, California

Sponsors: Burton, Smith, R.E.D., Windells

Marie-France Roy

Age: 21

Hometown: Les Eboulements, Quebec/Whistler, B.C.

Sponsors: Oakley, Rome, Red Bull, ThirtyTwo, etnies, Empire Board Shop

Anne-Flore Marxer

Age: 21

Hometown: Prà‡verenges, Switzerland

Sponsors: Burton, Oakley, DVS

This was Switzer-France-born Anne-Flore’s first winter breaking into the U.S. snowboard scene. She’s already established herself in Europe-shredding the backcountry and hitting kickers with the guys. She’s been leading the women’s charge away from the contest circuit and into the backcountry, and now she’s brought the fight to American soil … or, actually, snow.

She quickly overcame the difficulties of traveling and hit the road, filming with the Misschief girls, couch surfing in Mammoth, and occasionally hitting the U.S contest circuit, where she came in with second-place finishes in the Van’s Tahoe Cup at rail jam and slopestyle, and another second at the Burton Abominable Snow Jam quarterpipe at Timberline (Mt. Hood), Oregon.

Her riding style can only be described as explosive-she doesn’t just hit a jump, she fires off of it. There’s no doubt this beauty queen forces the subject, from dicey urban rails, compressor quarterpipes, and icy gaps-she goes for it, paying the price with the occasional broken limb. However, Anne-Flore had an injury-free winter this year, and look at where it got her: a Check Out in the season’s first issue of TWS, shots in … As If!, and her fellow snowboarders voting her TWS Rookie Of The Year. Bam! Be on the lookout for Anne-Flore.

Rider Of The Year-Women

Torah Bright

Age: 18

Hometown: Cooma, New South Wales, Australia

Sponsors: Salomon Snowboards, Roxy, Boost mobile, Samsung, Gravis, Nixon

Priscilla Levac

Age: 25

Hometown: Whistler, B.C.

Sponsors: Ride Snowboards, Drake Bindings, DC, Spy, Bakoda

Leanne Pelosi

Age: “Quarter of a century”

Hometown: Calgary, Alberta

Sponsors: K2, Bonfire, ThirtyTwo, etnies Girl, Dragon, Defcon, Whistler/Blackcomb, Mgtsnowboardcamp.com, Coastal Riders

Isn’t it great when things follow a natural progression? Last year’s Rookie Of The Year is this year’s Rider Of The Year. But the title doesn’t just get handed to a rider. Leanne didnrd and best trick on the quarterpipe, fourth place and best trick in the pipe, and the overall title. So, yeah, being humble, positive, and terrifyingly well-rounded-that’s what it takes if you want to be like Chad Otterstrom and Rider Of The Year one day.

Readers’ Choice:

Danny Kass

Age: 22

Hometown: Vernon, New Jersey

Sponsors: Gnu, Vans, Grenade, Boost Mobile, Jack’s

Garage, The Office, Propaganda, Mammoth Mountain, Agency,

Fatigue Project

Eddie Wall

Age: 24

Hometown: Mammoth Lakes, California

Sponsors: Jeenyus, DC Shoes, Agency, Foursquare, Smith, Grenade, Vestal, Mammoth Mtn., Jack’s Garage, Dublins

Travis Rice

Age: 22

Hometown: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Sponsors: Oakley, Lib Tech, RedBull, DC Shoes, Amp’d Mobile, Tylenol/Ouch!, Jack’s Garage, Grenade, Bluebird, Jackson Hole

So it’s official: Everyone wants a piece of the Trice-even you! Travis Rice’s popularity literally exploded after his oversized kicker shenanigans on Chad’s Gap in Utah. And he hasn’t let off the gas pedal since. With no loss of stoke or momentum, Trice has forged onward. Unsatisfied with a single movie part, Trice and friends created their own production company and turned out the big-budget Community Project this season, filled with Travis’ usual tucks, hucks, and supersized stunts. The Man also filmed for the DC Mountain Lab Video throughout the year, and, in his own words, “Rode more powder than anyone else this season.” To top it off, he took a bronze in the X-Games slopestyle and shocked everyone when he cracked the top ten in halfpipe!

Rookie Of The Year-Women

Molly Aguirre

Age: 21

Hometown: Mammoth Lakes, California

Sponsors: Burton, Smith, R.E.D., Windells

Marie-France Roy

Age: 21

Hometown: Les Eboulements, Quebec/Whistler, B.C.

Sponsors: Oakley, Rome, Red Bull, ThirtyTwo, etnies, Empire Board Shop

Anne-Flore Marxer

Age: 21

Hometown: Prà‡verenges, Switzerland

Sponsors: Burton, Oakley, DVS

This was Switzer-France-born Anne-Flore’s first winter breaking into the U.S. snowboard scene. She’s already established herself in Europe-shredding the backcountry and hitting kickers with the guys. She’s been leading the women’s charge away from the contest circuit and into the backcountry, and now she’s brought the fight to American soil … or, actually, snow.

She quickly overcame the difficulties of traveling and hit the road, filming with the Misschief girls, couch surfing in Mammoth, and occasionally hitting the U.S contest circuit, where she came in with second-place finishes in the Van’s Tahoe Cup at rail jam and slopestyle, and another second at the Burton Abominable Snow Jam quarterpipe at Timberline (Mt. Hood), Oregon.

Her riding style can only be described as explosive-she doesn’t just hit a jump, she fires off of it. There’s no doubt this beauty queen forces the subject, from dicey urban rails, compressor quarterpipes, and icy gaps-she goes for it, paying the price with the occasional broken limb. However, Anne-Flore had an injury-free winter this year, and look at where it got her: a Check Out in the season’s first issue of TWS, shots in … As If!, and her fellow snowboarders voting her TWS Rookie Of The Year. Bam! Be on the lookout for Anne-Flore.

Rider Of The Year-Women

Torah Bright

Age: 18

Hometown: Cooma, New South Wales, Australia

Sponsors: Salomon Snowboards, Roxy, Boost mobile, Samsung, Gravis, Nixon

Priscilla Levac

Age: 25

Hometown: Whistler, B.C.

Sponsors: Ride Snowboards, Drake Bindings, DC, Spy, Bakoda

Leanne Pelosi

Age: “Quarter of a century”

Hometown: Calgary, Alberta

Sponsors: K2, Bonfire, ThirtyTwo, etnies Girl, Dragon, Defcon, Whistler/Blackcomb, Mgtsnowboardcamp.com, Coastal Riders

Isn’t it great when things follow a natural progression? Last year’s Rookie Of The Year is this year’s Rider Of The Year. But the title doesn’t just get handed to a rider. Leanne didn’t leave anything to chance-she slaughtered the U.S Open in Vermont (first place at the rail jam, second in slopestyle, and the Best Performance Award), and grabbed first in the Mt Bachelor Grand Prix slopestyle, Roxy Chicken Jam (rail), and the Vans Cup (rail). But wait, what about the video part? She got the opener in the all-women’s snowboard film … As If! and made sure to throw in some banger shots like frontboarding a triple kink. Wait, wait, there’s more. Leanne packed up and headed out on a couple TransWorld editorial trips. How about two weeks in Iceland in the dead of winter and a month in Switzerland?

Canada’s Leanne Pelosi has momentum and doesn’t look to be slowing down. She says, “Next season I plan to travel less, snowboard more, go to a few key contests, and film with the Misschief crew again. I want to concentrate on getting a banger part next year.”

Readers’ Choice-Women

Gretchen Bleiler

Age: 24

Hometown: Aspen, Colorado

Sponsors: K2, Oakley eyewear and apparel, Napster, Aspen/Snowmass, 24 Hour Fitness, The Collection, Swix, Giro, Grandoe, Polar Revolution

Hannah Teter

Age: 18

Hometown: Belmont, Vermont

Sponsors: Burton, Anon, Mountain Dew, U.S. Snowboard Team, Nixon

Leanne Pelosi

Give the people what they want! Leanne did just that. TransWorld readers are hyped on Pelosi, who just edged out last year’s winner, Gretchen Bleiler. Leanne keeps giving back, too, as the camp director and a coach for the women’s MGT Snowboard camps, where she trains the next generation of women riders. She’s also (maybe a little obsessively) in constant contact with anyone who wants to communicate through snowboard.com or her cellular.

Leanne’s progressive riding and hilarious personality come through in the pages of TransWorld, on contest sidelines, and right through your TV screen. She has this to say about her win: “I love snowboarding, and if I inspire just one person to go out and shred the slopes, then I’ve done my job!” It seems to be working.

didn’t leave anything to chance-she slaughtered the U.S Open in Vermont (first place at the rail jam, second in slopestyle, and the Best Performance Award), and grabbed first in the Mt Bachelor Grand Prix slopestyle, Roxy Chicken Jam (rail), and the Vans Cup (rail). But wait, what about the video part? She got the opener in the all-women’s snowboard film … As If! and made sure to throw in some banger shots like frontboarding a triple kink. Wait, wait, there’s more. Leanne packed up and headed out on a couple TransWorld editorial trips. How about two weeks in Iceland in the dead of winter and a month in Switzerland?

Canada’s Leanne Pelosi has momentum and doesn’t look to be slowing down. She says, “Next season I plan to travel less, snowboard more, go to a few key contests, and film with the Misschief crew again. I want to concentrate on getting a banger part next year.”

Readers’ Choice-Women

Gretchen Bleiler

Age: 24

Hometown: Aspen, Colorado

Sponsors: K2, Oakley eyewear and apparel, Napster, Aspen/Snowmass, 24 Hour Fitness, The Collection, Swix, Giro, Grandoe, Polar Revolution

Hannah Teter

Age: 18

Hometown: Belmont, Vermont

Sponsors: Burton, Anon, Mountain Dew, U.S. Snowboard Team, Nixon

Leanne Pelosi

Give the people what they want! Leanne did just that. TransWorld readers are hyped on Pelosi, who just edged out last year’s winner, Gretchen Bleiler. Leanne keeps giving back, too, as the camp director and a coach for the women’s MGT Snowboard camps, where she trains the next generation of women riders. She’s also (maybe a little obsessively) in constant contact with anyone who wants to communicate through snowboard.com or her cellular.

Leanne’s progressive riding and hilarious personality come through in the pages of TransWorld, on contest sidelines, and right through your TV screen. She has this to say about her win: “I love snowboarding, and if I inspire just one person to go out and shhred the slopes, then I’ve done my job!” It seems to be working.