Taking your airborne skills to the pitches of Alaska is no easy slice of pie. Rarely do you see riders that can translate their skills off groomed park hits or even Whistler cliff drops, to the spines and cornices of AK’s jagged ridges.
Gigi has been honing his big mountain freestyle skills for more than a decade now. Hell, his part in Kingpin’s ‘Destroyer’ is 15-years old now, and is like ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ of snowboard parts. It’s this decades-old ability to read terrain that makes Gigi’s riding stand out; a slash here, a pop there and a big ol’ drop there, are the little bits of skill that are the hardest to learn.
It’s apt that Gigi is passing on this knowledge to a rider like Elias; arguably the new guard of European backcountry riding. THAT part from Pirate Movie Production’s ‘Distorted Reality’ should need no introduction, and the various trips that Elias has taken since then, seem to be a natural evolution that sees him taking his backcountry freestyle skills to harsher terrain.
At the other end of the spectrum, Manuel, is just such a powerful rider. He’s reminds us a little of the big wave surfer Greg Knoll. He just locks into a line and holds it – its explosive snowboarding to watch. With the demise of the Nike Snowboarding program, we’re hoping that Manuel Diaz still shows on our screens for seasons to come.