Originally published in the 30th Anniversary Issue of SNOWBOARDER Magazine, Mountain GOATS celebrates the most influential snowboarders of the last thirty years (1987-2017), otherwise known as the Greatest Of All Time list. With over 70 men and women riding into the ranks of the Mountain GOATS, check back as we release their bios and celebrated accolades over the course of the next few weeks!
Mountain Goat: Ross Powers
February 11th, 2002 is the exact moment when Ross Powers reached the peak of his snowboarding career. The place was Park City, Utah, and Ross was 21′ above the lip of the Olympic halfpipe, to be exact. To say that Ross Powers was a one-hit wonder would betray what was a very respectable pro career by any metric, but his first hit at the 2002 Games, where he joined Danny Kass and JJ Thomas in sweeping the podium, was nothing short of surreal. Even today, the images of Ross fully extended two-stories above the deck are hard to comprehend. Sure, Shaun White and a handful of others have on occasion eclipsed this air, but Ross’s feat was in an era of 18′ walls, not the 22′ monolithic creations commonplace on the circuit today. Furthermore, the fact that this air was broadcast in real time to an international audience of millions made it that much sweeter.
Rather than cringe, as is often the case with mainstream snowboarding spectacles like the Olympics or X Games, every rider on earth was stoked to have Ross and this air as an entre to our sport. While the Salt Lake Games may be the highlight of Ross’s resumé, Powers also earned the bronze medal at the Nagano Olympics in 1998 as well as two US Open halfpipe titles. The latter accomplishment would likely be accompanied by additional Open victories were it not for Burton suspending all FIS-affiliated snowboarders from competing in the US Open for a stretch during in the mid-90s. As for the X Games, Powers has a pair of wins, both occurring in 1998, but only one came in the pipe. Ross’s other trip to the top of the podium at X was a slopestyle victory where he emerged #1 against a field that included Kevin Jones, Todd Richards and almost all of the Forum 8!