This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine and has been updated with the video above.
In classic Whistler backcountry fashion the clouds rolled in and shut down Geoff Browns session on 1080 Gap. A drizzle started and with sticky spring snow already making for a sketchy landing Brown, photographer Todd Easterbrook, and filmer Vanessa Chan packed up. Brown had built the jump nine times over the season hoping to get a backside 1080 double cork and either got weathered-out or didnt land. But just before they left the sun broke through, shining perfect light on the gap. It was the end of March and Brown figured that if he didnt hit it right then he probably wouldnt have another chance until next winter. The crew set up again and on the sixth try Brown rode away from his trick, marking the first 1080 over the gap in the 14 years since it was first sessioned.
So how did the spot get its name?
Back in 1997 legendary Canadian shred Marc Morriset was sledding in Brandywine bowl, just south of Whistler resort, with the Whiskey movie mob including Sean Johnson, Kevin Young, Dionne Delasalle, and photographer Dano Pendygrasse. They came across a hip with a takeoff tucked underneath a protruding roll followed by a short knuckle to a steep landing that looked like a good spot. The crew put up the jump and Morriset felt it out with a frontside 360 and Cab 540 before trying a frontside 720. When he kept over-rotating he figured hed try to bring it around to a 1080. Dano shot the sequence, which ran as a Special Blend ad, and with that 1080 Hip was born.
A few years later Devun Walsh made his way out to the spot. He was just emerging as a rider at the forefront of backcountry progression and figured the flat top of the upper roll could work as a takeoff. After sizing it all up, Walsh built a wedge off the roll and, although theres no footage of it, sent the first air from the top. Nothing close to a 1080 went down but the name of the hip made the leap to the gap.
It wasnt until the Forum movie True Life released in the 2001 that the gap got its first real exposure when JP Walker dropped a switch underflip, Jeremy Jones did a Cab 540, and Peter Line put down a switch backside 540. Since then the spot has been a measuring stick for both local and visiting pros and over the years some solid bangers have gone down including Iikka Backstroms Cab 900 in That and, recently, Eero Niemalas switch backside 720 in Get Outta Town.
Last season, Brown figured someone should try to 1080 the thing and, despite going back to the spot so many times, some luck was on his side. Depending on the snowfall and the way the wind blows, the feature can shape up very differently each season making the landing better or worse. This year the landing slid, filling in the normally harsh compression and the knuckle didn’t form as sharp, making the feature the best its been, maybe ever.
All the factors that you needed to be able to try a back double cork were there, says Brown. But I still feel like it was kind of a miracle that I got it that day.