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SPONSORED RIDERS ARE TWO-A-PENNY THESE DAYS, BUT BECOMING A TRUE SNOWBOARDING GREAT IS A WHOLE OTHER BALL GAME

12:30 4th December 2013 by Nina Zietman @ninazietman
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Ways to be a legend #26: Keep your sponsors stoked with shots like this and they'll support you. Travis Rice in Jackson Hole. Photo: Danny Zapalac

Ways to be a legend #26: Keep your sponsors stoked with shots like this and they’ll support you. Travis Rice in Jackson Hole. Photo: Danny Zapalac

Skills, sure. But not just any skills. As Gian Simmen put it back in WL103, these days kids are expected to boost a front 10 double cork into powder as a morning warm-up. It takes some truly special talent to get a deal in the first place, let alone make it to the top and achieve legendary status. Promising Norwegian foot soldier Stale Sandbech is a good example of someone who initially caught the eye thanks to a complete set of standout skills. “He seemed like someone who could ride everything. Upon meeting him this summer, our hunch was confirmed,” says the man who signed him, Rome Team Manager John Cavan. “I watched him slaughter a pipe session and then jump right into riding some rails and he seemed to learn so quickly.”

Travis Rice has probably had the most rapid rise from nobody to cast iron legend

So far so good. But from there, how do you really make the leap to the big leagues? Travis Rice has probably had the most rapid rise from nobody to cast iron legend (it still took a decade, mind) and his versatility on absolutely every type of snowboarding terrain has much to do with it. Rice initially blew up with a show-stealing rookie show at Snowboarder’s 2001 Superpark session that included a boundary-shifting 100+ foot backside rodeo. Since then, he’s ruled Alaska for season after season, made two of snowboarding’s most hyped films, redefined the shred contest with Supernatural (which he won, natch), and continues to set the standard on backcountry über-booters. Hell, when I was at the US Open in 2007 he was an outside bet to top the podium in the pipe until a fall and busted shoulder ended his event. Small wonder he now has Trousersnake’s number on speed dial and, presumably, Quiksilver and Red Bull’s marketing plans based around him for the next few decades.

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