Although no snowboarder tops Shaun White in name recognition, ask most hardcore snowboarders about riders who inspire them and they’ll probably name-check Travis Rice. His win at this month’s King of the Hill contest validates his reputation as a snowboarder’s snowboarder.
The competition was held just outside the mecca of big-mountain riding, Valdez, Alaska. This area is regularly featured in snowboard flicks, a rite of passage for serious snowboarders and accessible only by helicopter (unless you’re Jeremy Jones or part of his crew, like T. Rice, who are currently shooting a film where they climb and skin up everything they’re going to ride).
King of the Hill was held for the first time in a decade at the Bro Bowl on terrain that included narrow chutes, wind lips, cliff lines and cornices. After dropping a big method off the first cornice, Rice’s run was highlighted by a 70-foot backside 720, which he landed solidly. Think about that for a quick sec — a back 7 off a 70-foot cliff!
His run finished with straight-lining down a three-foot wide chute before riding out of a rocky section. Rice finished in first in front of friends like big-mountain slayer Rob Kingwill and halfpipe bronze medalist Scotty Lago.
“It’s great to see this event finally return to snowboarding,” says Rice. “Conditions were all time and the venue was spot on for a long overdue AK shred contest.”
—Stephen Krcmar lives and writes about the outdoors in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.