1. My favorite moments in snowboarding are often the ones that cross lines, the ones so hard-hitting that everyone from the crustiest split-boarder to the gypsiest rail hobo shakes his beads in awe. Dan Brisse's roof-to-roof gap from Absinthe's Neverland was one such moment. Anyone who has witnessed Brisse's riding knows that it's solid from the backwoods to the street but this Utah gap cemented his reputation for truly next-level s---. And, to make it even better, he'd be the last guy to tell you about it.
2. Take two months, 30 heli bomb-dropped avalanches and build an Olympic calibre superpipe in the back of Colorado's mistiest resort, Silverton. Then build a foam pit attached to the pipe out of 8000 pounds of steel. Then fly Shaun White up there in a heli, drop him off and let him do his thing for a couple of months. The result? Project X, the craziest training facility snowboarding has seen since DC's first Mountain Lab and one serious ace in the hole for Shaun White in an Olympic year.
3. This time it's personal ... Last January, while doing a big ESPN feature on steeps assassin Jeremy Jones and "Deeper," his two-year film project, we took a breather after hiking around in the Mt. Rose backcountry and went for some mellow riding at Tahoe's secret stash, Sugar Bowl. I can't remember if I-80 was closed or what the hell was going on but Sugar Bowl had zero lineups for the first three hours they were open and 14 inches of fresh -- all for us. With mini extreme fingers, a few little drop offs, some epic gullies and truly excellent pow breaking at our knees, I didn't realize until my drive home later that day how insanely lucky I was to be riding pow with just myself and Jones with nary a camera in sight. He might be the best freerider in the world, a cool dad, a movie star, CEO of a POW, and, now, a company owner with Jones Snowboards but he's also really, really fun to go shredding with. Highly recommended.
4. Whistler-Blackcomb used to be my home turf for the better part of a couple of decades and I still ride there every season come hell or high water. There's nothing like those peak-to-creek length runs to find out how out of shape you are… However, with that many rad skiers and snowboarders in one small town, the resort sometimes gets tracked out too fast for my alarm clock. To this end, Powder Mountain Catskiing is a nice option as you can enjoy all the restaurants and bars of Whistler and still have a legit backcountry experience with all the pow to yourself and no hiking required. In 2009 things got even better when Powder Mountain added a heli option. I haven't weaseled my way in yet but you know it's on the list. Unreal.
5. Compatriot Snowboards relaunched in late 2009 and it made me remember the legendary status these pow munching freeride machines had in their original run. Hardcore resort rats from Targhee to Tee Pee Town swore by their durability and do-it-all-with-no-BS ride. And then they just kind of went away… With a new owner, sick graphics by the DDC and other artists, and a vanguard made up of Rob Kingwill and Kevin Frickin' Jones, you have to tip your hat to a mid-recession relaunch. Hardcore? Hells yes.