Japanese rider Kazuhiro Kokubo and Austrian rider Anna Gasser were the biggest winners of the night at the 20th annual TransWorld Riders Poll awards ceremony on Friday in Breckenridge. Kokubo took both Rider of the Year and Movie of the Year for his film “Kamikazu.” Gasser, who dominated the Dew Tour Slopestyle event earlier in the day, winning by more than 7 points, won both Women’s Reader’s Choice and Rider of the Year for the second year in a row. Icelandic snowboarder Halldór Helgason was the Men’s Reader’s Choice winner.
“I don’t want to speak long because my English is shit, but I just want to say snowboarding is cool – it’s so cool,” Kokubo said, before holding his Rider of the Year award above his head and announcing, “this will be the proof that I lived this life” to a standing ovation at the close of the 20th annual event. His signature film Kamikazu premiered in October and also features Keegan Valaika, Tadashi Fuse, Blair Habenicht, Gig Rüf, Dustin Craven, Kevin Backstrom, Kohei Kudo, and Jake Blauvelt.
Gasser became the first woman ever to land a triple in November, with her Cab triple underflip while filming for the Prime Park Sessions on the Stubai Glacier in Tyrol, Austria. She had a tremendous 2017-2018 competition season, too, taking Big Air gold at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics with a Cab double cork 1080 and wins at multiple FIS Olympic qualifier events. She also won Big Air gold at X Games Aspen 2018 with a Cab double cork 1080 and a frontside double underflip. And she’s off to an equally amazing start to the 2018-2019 season after Friday’s Dew Tour win and and her wins at the first two FIS World Cup Big Air events of the season, in Italy and China.
“I really didn’t expect this and I’m really honored to get this again after last year, especially because all the girls are riding so well and I’m just really happy to be a part of it,” Gasser said. “Thanks, snowboarding: I’m so happy to be in this community and hopefully for more years to come.”
The evening opened on a more somber note, with shoutouts to three titans of the snowboarding world who died in 2018: Noah Salasnek, Dillon Ojo, and Gerhard Gross III, followed by a tribute slideshow in memory of Gross, the former TransWorld SNOWboarding editor and Dew Tour Content Director who died of stomach cancer in August. His wife Kristen and son Gerhard Gross IV were in the crowd. After the slideshow, current TransWorld SNOWboarding editor Taylor Boyd presented trophies to Christiana Taylor and Evan Strong, winners of the inaugural Gerhard Gross Memorial Banked Slalom race, held on Friday at Breckenridge. Next, Jeremy Jones was honored with the new Gerhard Gross Luminary Award for his work as the founder of Protect Our Winters; Gross served as director of the Protect Our Winters Riders Alliance from 2014-2015.
“I’m super honored to receive this award: TransWorld has a special place in my heart: it was the first photo I ever had published, back in 1989 when many of you were not around,” Jones said, in a video acceptance speech sent from a splitboarding mission (of course), before shifting focus back to his non-profit’s work to mobilize the winter sports community against climate change. “This is the most critical election, in 2020. I’m enjoying a nice break from politics, getting my snowboard on, but get ready for 2020: I’m going top be calling upon you to help me protect our winters.”
Salasnek was posthumously presented with the Legend Award. Salasnek, also a talented skater, was known for bringing freestyle tricks to big mountain snowboarding and for his groundbreaking video parts for now-classic titles from Standard Films, Mack Dawg Productions, and Fall Line Films, among others.
Rookie of the Year nods went to Kennedi Deck, a star of “The Uninvited,” and Nik Baden, who had a breakout part in “The SNOWBOARDER Movie: Beta.”
Jake Kuzyk (“Landline”) and Maria Thomsen (“The Uninvited”) took Video Part of the Year honors. Standout Performance of the Year went to Arthur Longo and Olivier Gittler for “Sidehits Euphoria 2.”
Short Film of the Year went to “Blender” from adidas Snowboarding, which featured Tommy Gesme’s pro debut part as well as riding from Ben Bilodeu, Louif Paradis, Derrek Lever, Alex Sherman, Mark Wilson, Craig Cameron, and Artem Smolin. Online Video Series of the Year went to “FSBS” from Forest Bailey and Seamus Foster.
Click through to the TransWorld SNOWboarding site for more on the Riders Poll 20 winners.