Photos: Chris Wellhausen
Riders’ Poll has been around the block a couple times. The first took place in 1991 in Las Vegas during the SIA tradeshow. The second was also in Vegas during SIA, but eight years later in 1999. In 2003, the show moved to San Diego, and in 2008 back to Vegas, before moving to Denver two years later. This year, in Breckenridge, marked the first time Riders’ Poll has been hosted in the mountains. The show has also taken place over a month later for the last eight years.
There are always questions when making a switch of that nature. And honestly, until last night was over not even we at TransWorld SNOWboarding were certain what the ultimate reception to this change would be. But as we filed out of the Riverwalk Center with around 1000 other people into Breckenridge’s snowy downtown, the success of the event’s new time and venue was evident.
Hours prior, the crowd streamed in following the Dew Tour Steetstyle competition taking place off Main Street. As the lights dimmed, snowboarding’s odd couple, Eddie Wall and Peter Line, took the stage to conduct the show. The list of other presenters was a stacked one including Todd Richards, Louie Vito, Danny Davis, Mark McMorris, Terje Haakonsen, Jack Mitrani, Spencer O’Brien, and Chris Grenier.
As influential snowboarders presented awards to influential snowboarders, 600 Bud Lights were consumed at the nominee tables. The acceptance speeches were as diverse as the winners, ranging from direct and concise to drawn out and heartfelt. Rider of the Year winner Bode Merrill’s sincere speech was a reminder to everyone in attendance the risks associated with much of the snowboarding that garners Riders’ Poll nomination. Being trapped in an avalanche during the filming of Reckless Abandon was a wake up call for Bode, and he took the time to address it in the film and on stage: "I was very close to dying the year and I was almost gone and so standing here tonight is extra special to me.” It was a sobering moment, and a necessary message as a new season begins.
Devun Walsh also accepted his Legend Award with an equally earnest address to the crowd, beautifully acknowledging his appreciation for snowboarding and his gratitude for the accolade. Listening to Devun—someone who has been around snowboarding for decades—was a reminder as to why we all do this, and those reasons never change. Throughout its nearly twenty iterations the intent of Riders’ Poll has not changed either. It is an event that celebrates snowboarding.
Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees. And thank you so much to the massive crowd that turned out to honor those who represent all of us, as snowboarders.
Check out the full list of winners below, and watch their highlight videos here.
BYND X MDLS
The Eternal Beauty of Snowboarding, Jérôme Tanon
Kazu Kokubo, STRONGER.
Robin Van Gyn, Full Moon