CANDIDE THOVES STRAIGHT AIRS CHAD’S GAP
In the spring of 1999, Chad Zurinkas was scoping backcountry gaps in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The prize hit — a 120-foot, gulch-style gap. After Chad came up brutally short twice, Candide, a quiet, 16-year old at the time, attempted to clear it. It took Candide two tries to clear one of the biggest and most memorable features our sport has seen. “The gap is called Chad’s Gap now, but Candide was the first to clear it,” states Kris Ostness, the skier/filmmaker who pioneered the gap jump scene in Utah. Candide returned the following season, this time throwing a D-spin, still an incredible feat.
PHILOU WINS THE US OPEN BIG AIR
A year after people first witnessed the switch backflip, thrown by JF Cusson in Japan, the skiing world was amazed to watch Philou Poirier do the same trick over a 65-foot big air jump. The sheer size of the jump at the time was one thing to gawk at, but the idea of coming into it switch, landing switch, and doing a flip in the middle was downright ridiculous. “The very first US Open I ever went to, I saw Philou do a switch back, and I was just like, ‘Wow, this is cool. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,’” says Tanner Hall. “The switch back blew my mind,” adds John Smart. “Nobody even thought you could do it. It opened the door for so many things.” Right around the same time, JF Cusson was making equally strong waves in the competition scene by winning the X Games big air with a switch 720.
SETH MORRISON IN GLOBAL STORMING
At the same time that the jib scene was exploding, a movement was happening in the big-mountain arena. Matchstick Productions’ release of Global Storming turned the heads not only of big-mountain skiers, but in the rest of the scene as well, including guys as park- centric as Tanner Hall.
“Seth Morrison’s part in Global Storming was ridiculous,” says Tanner. “Not only was he in countless amounts of avalanches, he was beating his slough down the run, launching 100 footers, and he was doing backflips off everything. It was the first segment I saw pushing the limits outside the park, and was one of the first segments where I said, ‘That looks pretty fun to do!’”
JACKSON HOLE OPENS BACKCOUNTRY GATES
The official opening of Jackson Hole’s backcountry marked the beginning of a trend that soon followed across North America. The move gave skiers not only freedom to go where they wanted, but also forced them to assume the risks of skiing out of bounds. With the terrain that opened up in 1999, Jackson Hole made it possible to ski some of the best terrain this side of the Alps. And, as the bean counters at Jackson have found, there are plenty of us who have skied it — and will continue to do so — making the decision a good one for not only skiers everywhere, but for Jackson Hole itself.
About the author:
Shay Williams is the former Managing Editor of Freeskier Magazine. He now works full-time with Monster Energy, and continues to contribute to freeskier.com, offering insights re: the lives of his Monster athletes.