"He ripped all season long and also won a silver medal in the Olympics." - Ross Powers
"Ståle is one of the best all-around riders out there! His consistency in and out of contests is bonkers. Style for miles.”" - Chas Guldemond
Ståle Sandbech emerged in the snowboard scene as a tiny tyke tagging along with Norway’s elite and frontrunning the globe’s biggest events, but it’s 2015 now, and Ståle’s all grown up. The recent crop of talent from the Norse Land is staggering to say the least, as dozens of Norwegians are staking their flag in professional snowboarding’s hallowed ground, but currently, none stand taller than Ståle. Following in the footsteps of elders like Terje Haakonsen, Andreas Wiig and Torstein Horgmo, Ståle is a well-rounded, all-terrain madman who’s comfortable in any element so long as he’s strapped in, be it on top of a podium or standing above a drop-in to a street rail or backcountry booter. His biggest showing last year, however, was on our sport’s grandest stage in Sochi, Russia where Ståle took home a silver medal in the first-ever slopestyle event in the Winter Olympics. But it wasn’t simply the fact that he placed second that resonated with the world. As soon as slopestyle’s first finals runs got underway, it seemed that it would go to the rider who could land the most triple corks in one go, but when Sage Kotsenburg put down a relatively flat spun run, Ståle switched up his mentality, abandoned the corking and put down a run completely different from the rehearsed routine that most slope riders practice all year and put on repeat. That’s because Ståle is one of the best jumpers that snowboarding has ever seen, and if you don’t believe us, take it from one of the greatest to ever live, Travis Rice himself, as he said, “It is a thing of Norwegian beauty to watch Ståle slay a kicker!” Another child prodigy-turned-world-class-jumper Mikey Rencz chimed in as well, saying, “He can do every trick with every different grab. Such a fun dude to watch snowboard.” And if you think Sandbech’s riding only resonates with those who spend most of their time in the air, think again. Rail revolutionary and street savant JP Walker touched on Ståle’s Olympic performance and his nod to Heikki Sorsa at the awards, stating, “He murked in the Olympics, had a couple video parts and wore a mohawk at the medal ceremony.” Although this may be his first appearance on SNOWBOARDER’s Rider of the Year list, remember that he’s still only 21 years old so you’ll be seeing much more of him in the years to come, because this kid is capable of almost anything on a snowboard. Ståle’s explosive, spontaneous and creative way of riding will continue to keep his snowboarding from becoming—ahem—stale.