Snowboarder Magazine’s The Launch event was a breath of fresh air. For riders earning their stripes the season tends to be congested with contests, organizing bodies, and rules. While checking in on arrival day the invited congregation let out a harmonious sigh of relief; the spirit of snowboarding, of freedom and creativity, was sweeping over us, engulfing our souls, and washing our sins.
The stage was set at Snow Summit for four days of ideal southern California ripping. “Sunny n’ Sick” was easily heard throughout The Launch. Why wouldn’t it be? Every day on snow was perfect – the warming sun rays, a gentle breeze, and a light crispness of air that can only be provided by dense pines made The Launch heaven on earth.
– Rider Highlights –
Zeke Oppegaard: Capita Snowboards, Union Bindings, Volcom Clothing, and Electric Goggles
The man-child Zeke Oppegaard got more play than Heffner in the 70’s. With an aggressive ability Zeke pushed off fear resting on his shoulders and launched into the forefront of the rider pile. For a kid who under 13 he sure has a great start to what will become a long career.
Sam Stillman: Interior Plain Project Snowboards
Sam Stillman is the hardest working self promoting rider in the game. He’s constantly putting in time to get the right angle for the right shot with the right style and it’s paying off. Slaughtering jibs was second nature and boosting quarterpipes had the people calling out for more.
Brandon Kirkland: Rome Snowboards, ThirtyTwo Boots, Neff Clothing, Ashbury Goggles
GREASED! That’s the common theme behind everything Brandon Kirkland does – he greases it. With a slick and laid back style Brandon was the silent killer of the week. Roaming amongst the pack Brandon has a tendency to charge forward and do something that takes everyone off-guard.
Walker Murphy: Ride Snowboards, Von Zipper
It’s hard not to watch the complete field of riders and see Walker Murphy’s riding scream out for attention – he rides fast, goes bigger, and puts it all on the line. While his peers stop to grill dogs for lunch Walker continues to hike and get the shot. Walker doesn’t bail or washout – he SLAMS and gets back up until he rides away bolts.
Chaney Gilmore: Dinosaurs Will Die Snowboards
Chaney Gilmore, Mr. Birthday Boy himself, blew out the candles, smashed the cake in everyone’s face, and flipped the table just as a devote Dirty Boy should do. Usually found filming in the street Chaney quickly adjusted his urban assault style to hips and tranny galore.
Repolia Robinson: Nitro Snowboards
If Repolia was a wizard he’d be the greatest of them all – Gandolf. With hella’ smoke there’s no mirrors in his tricks, just pure magic. The only thing he knows is going hard, so hard that you can feel the ground shake when he lands. Repo levels ups and everyone takes notice.
Nick Belbas: Rossignol Snowboards, ThirtyTwo Boots, and Giro Goggles
The all around stand out did it all. Nick Belbas shines as bright as the southern California sun. From huge gaps, quarter pipes, rails, and transfers the Big Boss holds his own on everything under the sun. Nick ripped like a mullet all week – fun and game with a splash of serious business.
Pete Croasdale: Rome Snowboards and ThirtyTwo Boots
Pistol Pete Croasdale is a loaded gun who doesn’t give warning shots. Quick off the hip Pete aims to kill everything is sight – and he had his sights set on the massive jump at Summit. With a murderous style Pete was set up with a sunset shoot and Front Double 1080.
Brody Sanderson: K2 Snowboards and ThirtyTwo Boots
Brody definitely put his time in at the Launch. First finding his rhythm one footed through the rhythm section, then the rails, over the hips, blasting off the jump/ transfer gap, and lastly on the tech quarter pipe transfer feature Brody does it all with a touch of Midwest pride.
Select images in gallery below | Photos by Matt Guf