Bode Merrill, Kimmy Fasani win Riders of the Year at 18th annual TransWorld Snowboarding Riders’ Poll Awards

Travis Rice, Jess Kimura named Riders of the Year, Devun Walsh receives Legend award.

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Friday night’s TransWorld Snowboarding Riders’ Poll Awards went to some of the heaviest of hitters, including Video Part of the Year winners Kazu Kokubo (Stronger) and Robin Van Gyn (Full Moon), Readers Choice picks Travis Rice and Jess Kimura, and Rider of the Year winners Bode Merrill and Kimmy Fasani.

Merill was recognized largely on the strength of his film Reckless Abandon with cinematographer John Ray, a celebration of fun and creativity in snowboarding. But Merrill also got serious and emotional in his acceptance speech as he recalled getting caught in an avalanche in April near Haines, Alaska, and specifically thanked his rescuers. 

“I was this close to dying this year, I was almost gone, so standing here tonight is extra special to me,” he said.

Fasani’s big mountain backcountry part in the Absinthe film /fterForever helped proper her to the win. “What a ride,” she said. “Thank you snowboarding. Snowboarding is the best thing that has ever come into my life. I’m so grateful that we have such an amazing community. We’re so lucky.”

The first awards of the night went to Rookie of the Year winners Klaudia Medlová and Jesse Paul. Medlová’s 2016 season edit featured terrain park slaying including her stomped double backside rodeo from the Nine Queens event in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, Austria; Jesse Paul’s bangers from Bode Merrill’s Reckless Abandon earned him the vote. BYND x MYDLS Season 4 won the Best Online Video Series nod, and photographer Jérôme Tanon won a Standout Performance award for his offbeat (and hilarious) documentary The Eternal Beauty of Snowboarding.

“Wow. Sick. I mean, I don’t know what to say. It’s pretty sick,” Tanon said in a video acceptance speech, referencing one of the funniest sequences from the film before struggling mightily to open a bottle of Champagne, another echo from the film.

The heavily-stacked Union Binding Company team video Stronger won Video of the Year in an especially tough category, up against Reckless Abandon and Travis Rice’s The Fourth Phase. It turns out having Travis Rice, Kazu Kokubo, Gigi Rüf, Scott Stevens, Dustin Craven, Johnny O'Connor, Phil Jacques, Dan Brisse, Anto Chamberland, Bryan Iguchi, Arthur Longo, and Torstein Horgmo on one team in a core snowboarding video is more than enough to do the trick.

TransWorld unveiled a new Influencer award this year and presented it to Leanne Pelosi for her all-female film Full Moon and her tireless work behind the scenes to promote women’s snowboarding.

“I had this dream to make a movie with all my heroes,” Pelosi said, “I want them to realize that I’m standing here because of them… we all have the opportunity to mold the future of snowboarding. Everybody has that power to do what they want to take it in a good direction and I will continue to strive, moving forward, to give back to an industry that has given so much to me so that I can be more worthy of this award.”

And, in perhaps the night’s biggest moment, the crowd gave a standing ovation to this year’s Legend award winner Devun Walsh.

“It’s been an adventure of 30 years of snowboarding,” Walsh said. “Every year I come to these awards and I’m sitting down there with you guys watching people I idolize like Peter Line, Terje Haakonsen, and Jamie Lynn get this award. I just feel so honored to be on this stage. I mean, to mentioned along with guys like these, it’s pretty awesome.”

For more on this year's winners and nominees, visit Snowboarding.TransWorld.net/Riders-Poll.