Photo: Mike Yoshida
Men’s Rider of the Year: Kazuhiro Kokubo
There are professional snowboarders, and there is Kazu. A name that needs no introduction, Kazu is as respected by his pro rider peer group as much as any. It is a calculated approach to major career decisions and a loose approach to split-second decisions on the mountain that make Kokubo who he is. As a rider who made a name for himself in the competitive halfpipe realm, Kazu has always been exceptional at riding natural terrain—whether many of his fans realized it or not—but this season marked a new height for him. Kokubo directed and starred in a signature project called Kamikazu that provided an opportunity for a cast hand-picked by Kazu himself to document top-tier backcountry freestyle riding. With a career as enduring as Kazu Kokubo's, it's a surprise he hasn't won this award already, but with a season as lauded as this one, it seems right that he is finally the Rider of the Year.
About Riders’ Poll: For 20 years, TransWorld SNOWboarding has polled the professional snowboarding community to find their picks for the best riders of the year. Each season, these awards are decided by the opinions of over 100 pros. While TransWorld SNOWboarding hosts the awards, the winners are truly a reflection of peer acknowledgement—the highest honor any rider can receive.