Here we go, into the top 10, as voted by the UK snowboard industry. Unsurprisingly, it features some bona fide legends of both freestyle and freeride...
#10 - Sascha Hamm
Whilst anyone that has met him will instantly tell you that Sascha is a bit of a strange one, it’s hard to think of anyone more quintessentially, well, British (despite technically being Austrian).
Like a WWII RAF pilot, he’s composed, relaxed and totally in his element whilst nature fires on all cylinders against him, taking down steeps, couloirs and Freeride World Tour podium spots without breaking stride.
Somehow though, he’s done all this (and survived some of the most terrifying backcountry stories you’ll hear in this lifetime) without a hint of bravado or fanfare - he simply lives for what he loves. And somehow holds down a nine-to-five job. And still has time to practice free-diving breathing techniques in the bath.
One of our best snowboarders and humans, and by far the most unsung this high on the list. He's currently on the long road to recovery after a nasty slam on the Freeride World Tour, but we have no doubt he'll be back to his best soon enough.
"He’s a dick, and a foreigner, and I’d like to give him a severe dead arm. But he sure can ride a snowboard" - Chris Moran, former Whitelines Editor
"Was dropping 40 foot cliffs 20 years ago with the best of them… and switch. Now podiums on the Freeride World Tour, but unlike James Stentiford he believes he can tame the mountain rather than co-habit. Never follow him" - Spencer Claridge, Brits Co-organiser
#9 - Andy Nudds
One of the Halifax golden generation that included Will Smith, Matt Macwhirter and Jamie Nicholls, Nuddsy has come a long way from lapping his local carpet. Indeed it's a testament to the power of dryslope that it can change whole lives, and having discovered snowboarding this big, shy lad never looked back.
From Morzine to Helsinki via Tahoe, Nuddsy has pushed himself to be the best he can be and has helped raise the whole level of UK riding in the process (it’s no coincidence that he can count Smith and Billy Morgan amongst former housemates). While he’s a beast on booters, it’s at street spots with the Grindhouse crew that ‘The Nuddsinator’ has really made his name, throwing those meaty limbs of his down rails and ledges with machine-like precision. His insane opener in this year’s final film Afterlife – above several scandi talents who joined the crew – was richly deserved.
More impressively still, Nuddsy has achieved all this while holding down a day job as a postman. The snowboard industry can seem full of extroverts at times – all competing to harvest followers on social media – and it takes a certain brand to choose the quiet guy as their ambassador; Nuddsy, though, has stayed true to himself while navigating the perilous sponsorship waters and always let his riding do the talking. For this, we salute him.
"Hands down the most stylish rider to come from the UK" - James Stentiford, rider/guide
"His style blew my mind the first time I saw him, and it still does - every time. Style is subjective, but in my opinion he has the best of any rider ever in the history of the universe" - Jack Labbett, rider
#8 - Will Smith
OK then, no more Fresh Prince references…
You might think he was made in America for all the rail chops this wee man in black has, and indeed there’s certainly way fewer than six degrees of separation between him and the toast of the urban scene across the pond these days, but Will Smith still stays true to his Yorkshire roots whilst touring frozen cities with Vans or Postland.
After first making it to the wild wild west of California with the Grindhouse bad boys, he’s been on a mission to prove UK talent on a global stage, and with some of the techiest rail tricks you’ll ever see on lock, his winter’s tale is far from over.
"Not many riders at the age of 21 can fit into the categories of past, present and future of snowboarding. Can adapt to any terrain, and is able to film a whole video part in two weeks" - John Weatherley, rider
"Always putting out the sickest edits, and getting super tech and progressive on the rails" - Danny McCormick, rider
#7 - James Stentiford
On the most recent of the many Whitelines trips James Sentiford has accompanied us on, he told us about when he went to buy his current van at auction and accidentally dropped a grand in cash out of his pocket on his way in. When we asked how he reacted, he simply shrugged and brushed it off. In essence, shit happens, and nothing really ever seems to ruffle Stenti’s feathers.
Some of that may be down to the sheer amount of time he’s been around: a professional career that’s spanned three decades and seen him clear the Baker gap, hit the same backcountry jumps as Travis Rice, get towed by a horse through the Cornish surf, lead Quicksilver’s European team, come third down the Bec des Rosses and explore Alaska on multiple trips. Ten years ago we made fun of him for being old - these days he’s still going strong, and remains the best freerider we’ve ever produced.
Now splitting his time finding lucky clients powder stashes in the winter and surfing/skating/teaching his son the dark arts in the Devonshire summer, he’s living the dream as envisaged by, well, all of us.
"The silverback. A genuine 'lifer', all round boardsports-man and the only one on the list I'd trust to take me to AK" - Ed Blomfield, Whitelines
"Purely for not stopping. Stylish, all-terrain, all-round shred rat. James has inspired and motivated for years and years, and this is set to continue for a very long time..." - James Sweet, SuperRad
#6 - Tyler Chorlton
A true citizen of the world, but still technically British, so we’ll have him. When we think of the quintessential ‘snowboarder’, it’s a Tyler Chorlton-shaped figure that pops into our heads: gangsta steeze even whilst in full Gore-Tex, and some of the best true snowboarding you’ll ever see if you ever get to see him ride up close – just classic style.
As well as video parts with Pirate Productions and his own WhatWeWant Films (some of the best ever pulled together by a Brit) he’s also got his own snowboard shop in the Andorran town he calls home and – by our count – two tricks that could very well be chalked up as Chorlton signatures: the frontflip-nosegrab and the backside 720 double stiffy.
From BC sled missions to Haute Savoie powder, the backcountry is where snowboarding’s soul resides, and no one from our fair land has made it their home quite like Tyler.
"I can't count the amount of times Tyler has astonished me while riding in the presence of any rider in the world - he always stands out. He's also had standout parts with some of the most respected snowboard productions in the world" - Henry Jackson, rider/MC
"So smooth and talented" - Neil McNab, rider/guide
Next up, the top 5 - check back tomorrow for more!