Men's Rookie of the Year
Professional snowboarding, much like any elite level of athleticism, isn't just about the current superstars. It's about the next generation, the new vanguard, and the future of our sport. Every year it seems that although the moniker "rookie" gets quite confusing, there are a handful of kids who step up and stamp their place in our culture. This year, Nik Baden, Ben Bilodeau, Jacob Krugmire, Rene Rinnekangas, and Jed Sky have earned the nod for our potential Rookie of the Year titles.
Lurking below the surface of snowboarding's mainstream consciousness for a couple seasons now is the name Nik Baden. After shutting down Beta with a standout part, however, Nik is now on the radar of those paying attention. This season he ventured into the backcountry and took to powder landings with an uncommon ease. With a well-rounded approach, he'll be here for a while.
Ben Bilodeau is quiet and unassuming, but his riding is speaking louder and louder. With a creativity-driven approach, unusual trick selection, and an eye for unique spots, Ben is the type of rider that makes you rewind to figure out what happened. With standout footage in blender, the collective rewind button was hit many times after its recent release. Try to keep up.
Jacob Krugmire grew up in Washington's snowboard scene, surrounded by this industry from a young age. His name's been familiar in certain circles, but this past season he began to put himself on a larger-scale map. Opening up Beta with a heavy street part, Krugmire demonstrated that he's about to make his mark on an industry he's been raised by.
Out of nowhere last season, came an alliterative name from Finland. Rene Rinnekangas is the 19-year-old who put the Rome Snowboards team on his back and put down the highest score in the Modified Superpipe competition at Winter Dew Tour, helping clinch Rome's victory in the Team Challenge. He then went on to film a part for Method Movie 3, while keeping the people of the internet entertained with unique clips all season long.
There's a new Jed in snowboarding. Sky had a noteworthy season filming with Absinthe for his first time and produced a head-turning street part in Stay Tuned hallmarked by creative spots and tricks. Having grown up lapping icy East Coast parks, Sky has an uncommon level of control that combines with a certain looseness, making him especially entertaining to watch.