Real Snow Backcountry 2016 contenders
Real Snow Backcountry is back for its final hurrah. Allow us to introduce you to this year's colorful cast of riders, filmers and judges, starting with this one-foot-trick wonder here. Bode Merrill already has two X Games medals -- bronze from 2013 and gold from 2014 -- from the urban Real Snow contest. His entry into Real Snow Backcountry will come as no surprise for fans used to his urban/backcountry double-ender video parts. "I grew up watching all the videos religiously, so the film side of it is what inspired me," Merrill says. "Snowboarding for me has never really been about competition. It's always been about pushing myself to progress my own snowboarding and filming it all along the way."
Bryan Iguchi is a legend among legends. He came up in the Big Bear scene in the early 90s, right as the snowboard park scene was exploding, and quickly became one of the biggest names in snowboarding. Inspired by a life-changing experience filming for Volcom's supermovie, "The Garden," and by his friend and mentor Craig Kelly, Iguchi moved to Jackson Hole in 1995 and shifted his focus to the backcountry. He has been heavily responsible for mentoring those in the next generation looking to follow his lead. "I've set new goals and tested my skills with the risky pursuit of snowboard mountaineering objectives," Iguchi says. "My path lies in finding greater satisfaction and peace riding with my family and friends, looking for quality snow, fluidity and fun. I enjoy the creative and physical processes of filmmaking, planning missions and just getting out there with the crew."
"It's crazy. I've been snowboarding for so long, but the winter ritual is something I'll never grow out of," says Real Snow Backcountry 2015 gold medalist, John Jackson. "I've ridden the full career roller coaster -- from racing as a young'n, to competing in freestyle contests, to filming in the backcountry. But my favorite thing to do on a snowboard has always been to explore the untouched mountains." Jackson won TransWorld Snowboarding and Snowboarder Magazine's 2010 and 2011 "Rider of the Year" awards and estimates he has been in 15 video parts. "I have so much gratitude to still be riding," Jackson says.
2010 Olympic halfpipe snowboarding bronze medalist, four-time X Games medalist and Lago Snowboards owner Lago adds, "my rag doll game is pretty strong." Lago's rocket airs and front double cork 12 truck drivers were missed in the X Games Aspen SuperPipe last year, so it's nice to get a re-up on the style antics of one of our favorite Frends.
Eric Jackson spent the past three years working with Travis Rice on a little snowboard movie you might have heard of called "The Fourth Phase." Lucky for us, he had a little time left over to film alongside Rice's former "Art of Flight" co-star, his big brother John Jackson, for their Real Snow parts. "I wanted to be creative and put everything I could into it, so I decided to write and record an original song for the edit," Jackson says. "Originally it was going to be a solo banjo instrumental but then evolved to a full-on jam with a few super talented musicians. I've never recorded music before, so it was crazy fun!"
Whistler's prodigal son, Mikey Rencz has been riding for Burton since he was 8 years old. He has graced more than 10 magazine covers and has been nominated for Snowboarder Magazine's "Rider of the Year" twice. He's also our Real Snow Backcountry 2013 gold medalist. Welcome back, Mikey.
Iguchi's filmer: Jake Price
"I love spending time with Jake in the mountains and on the road traveling," says Iguchi of his choice to team up with Jake Price for his Real Snow Backcountry edit. "I have a deep respect for his creative ability and the way he documents snowboarding. We share the same values and respect for riding as well as an artistic vision that isn't influenced or compromised by current trends. We're in this thing for life. Much love and respect. It's an honor to work with him." Jake Price is a Real Snow veteran, having been Pat Moore's counterpart in previous contests -- including the gold-medal-winning edit he put together for Moore in 2014.
Eric and John Jackson's filmer: Tim Manning
"First and foremost, Tim's there to have a good time -- which we always do," says John Jackson, of his Real Snow filming teammate, Tim Manning. "Hopefully we get a shot or two, but regardless, the days are always a riot. Plus, he's a five-star cinematographer with many years of experience who I trust in the backcountry." "My brother and I really wanted to ride together. I've looked up to him since I was little, and we always have the best time. He has pushed and influenced my riding more than anyone. Tim was already John's filmer, so it just worked out," Eric Jackson adds. "The best part was that it took us back to the old Standard Films days. John and I used to shoot with Tim and the Hatchett brothers, so it brought back so many good memories!"
Lago's filmer: Wojtek Targosz
"I chose Wojtek because he's an extremely talented and motivated filmer. And he wanted the chance to win an X Games medal," says Scotty Lago of his choice in Real Snow filming counterpart, Wojtek Targosz. "Plus, he has lots of backcountry experience and is chill AF to hang out with."
Merrill's filmer: Jon Ray
"I wanted to work with Jon because he is young and talented. I had seen a number of things he worked on before and really liked what he produced, and I could tell that he genuinely loves snowboarding," says Bode Merrill of his filming teammate, Jon Ray. "That is most important thing to me: Having a filmer who actually snowboards and understands everything you're doing. If a snowboard filmer doesn't have that, then I don't think they can capture the beauty of snowboarding the way we see it in our heads. Jon gets it. And he's one hell of a filmer."
Rencz's filmer: Aaron Leyland
"He enjoys being in the mountains so much," says Rencz of his filming counterpart, Aaron Leyland, who also put together Rencz's gold-medal-winning part for Real Snow Backcountry 2013. "He never takes a day for granted -- he does not take ANY days off."
Meet the judges
There are two ways to win a Real Series contest. One is to win the Fan Favorite vote, which runs online. The other is to have your part selected to receive an X Games medal by a panel of experts. In order to have full transparency about who is behind the curtain, we'd like to introduce you to our judges. To find out who they picked to podium, tune in to the full one-hour broadcast of "World of X Games presents: Real Snow Backcountry" Sunday, Dec. 10 on ABC.
Judge: Pat Moore
Why he's a judge: Besides being an all-around badass, Pat Moore has competed multiple times in Real Snow -- both the urban and backcountry versions. He's also the Real Snow BC 2013 Fan Favorite and silver medalist and the 2014 gold medalist. What he's looking for: "I look at the trick difficulty as the most important factor, because I am a rider as well. Beyond that, I use the quality of filming and editing to round out my overall impression."
Judge: Mike Hatchett
Why he's a judge: You might have heard of a little snowboard company called Standard Films. Hatchett has been making snowboard films since 1989 and is very familiar with what it takes to make a solid video part. What he's looking for: "I am looking for variety and style, trickwise, in each person's segment. I will be paying close attention to exactly what each trick is, what the trick was done off of, how well it was done in the air and the landing. I am also looking for an edit that flows and draws you in when you watch it."
Judge: Dave Downing
Why he's a judge: Downing is an OG professional snowboarder, of the Burton brood, who has filmed more than 15 video parts in his career. He has also been involved in editing and producing action sports movies for over 20 years. What he's looking for: "I'm looking for a rider that is ... adapting to the terrain, doing the best tricks and pushing his riding style. I am also looking for good music and flow to the editing process, so the film part is easy to watch."
Judge: Jeremy Jones
Why he's a judge: Jones has been a professional snowboarder for 20 years. He was also one of the very first Real Snow (urban flavor) competitors. What he's looking for: "I'm looking to see a well-rounded part. Trick selection and execution will be a key factor in winning. Feature selection is also important. I want to see progressive tricks on creative features and creative tricks on more normal features -- and best of all, creative progressive tricks on creative features. The edit and song selection play a factor but won't win the game alone. But the better the music is, the better the other stuff looks. Just saying."