DOB: 11/15/86 || Stance: Regular || Home Mtn: Brighton, UT
Sponsors: Billabong, Salomon, Monster, anon., Crab Grab, Arcade Belts, Cobra Dogs, Milosport, Magical GoGo, Brighton
Seeing as this year’s Rider of the Year voting pool is larger than any in history of this esteemed poll, it’s arguable that no number one pick is more legitimate than this one right here. And the jury has deliberated. Bode Merrill is the best snowboarder on the planet, and you’d be hard pressed to find any sideways-sliding fanatic who would disagree with that statement. Bode burst onto the snowboard scene with one of the most insane enders of all time in Absinthe’s Neverland a few years back and since then, he’s continually pushed the limits, progressed freestyle snowboarding and performed near-superhuman feats while strapped in, either one foot or two.
Last season, Bode set out with acclaimed filmmaker and shirtless enthusiast, Jon Ray, to film his own project called Reckless Abandon and the end result was a video that will resonate in the snowboarding culture for decades to come. Much like Subjekt Haakonsen, Reckless Abandon stars Bode, but not by any cinematography or narrative; it is by sheer skill alone that Bode steals the show, and while the additional riding from Erik Leon, Ozzy Henning, Jesse Paul and Hans Mindnich (among others) is unbelievable, Bode steps in from time to time to show that every time he drops in, he’s the star of the session due to his freakish abilities on a snowboard. Top it all off with an ender that has more NBDs than any video part in recent memory and Bode cemented his status as one of the all-time greats. Said ender also earned him Video Part of the Year, as he accumulated nearly nine minutes of hammers in the streets, the backcountry and the steeps of AK, proving that Bode is in fact the best all-around talent we have seen in a very long time.
Washington-based wünderkid Austen Sweetin backs up Bode’s efforts by saying, “Bode comes up with an idea and does it. Sometimes it doesn't make sense until he does it and then it makes perfect sense. His plethora of one foot NBDs and his Jackson Hole rampage shows the natural talent Bode is filled with. He may be one of the most diverse and creative snowboarders out there. His switch back rodeo front board, foot plant crippler, and foot plant front flip are only of the few tricks of insanity that filled his 9 minute part of hammers.”
Three-time Rider of the Year David Benedek knows what it takes to win this coveted award and he went all in on Bode by claiming, “Bode has been charging at the top for years now but this time he's really outdone himself. I can't remember any rider or video part that has been so full of hammers in any and all categories of riding” while the man who kicked off the new millennium by reinventing freestyle snowboarding in all aspects, Mr. JP Walker, keeps it short and sweet, stating, “This one is pretty cut and dry. Thanks, Bode, for making this an easy decision this year.” And we too at SNOWBOARDER would like to thank Bode for making our jobs a little bit easier. As the Guest Editor of our November issue last year, Bode put out one of the best magazines to hit newsstands in years, so we owe him one. Enjoy the crown, Champ! We all cannot wait to see what you do next, because it will definitely blow our minds.
- T. Bird