Salt Lake City locals, Eric Rich and Sam Smith, flew further in one afternoon off the massive Flagstaff Gap kicker than most skiers will in a lifetime of aerial maneuvers. Here they are more than 50ft./18m up in the sky, flying across the 100+ ft./33+m natural gap, not far from downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.
Conditions were less than perfect for a Utah day in Little Cottonwood Canyon across the street from Alta Ski Area, meaning typically soft, pillowy landings in meters of snow weren`t waiting for Sam and Eric after they returned to Earth from the stratosphere. Both took some hard falls but managed to stay mentally tough for 3 epic launches each.
Sam`s playful silhouette shots from after the real aerial chaos are some of my favorites from the archives, while Eric`s images, although less artistic, well…he was riding free-heel telemark skis pulling-off giant flat spin 540s and linkin` loops (aka, barrel rolls). Wait for it…Legen—dary.
The rediculous thing is that neither of these guys ever got much recognition as far as pro sponsorships through their prime riding years. The snowsports scene in Salt Lake City, Utah, has one of the world`s highest concentrations of pro skiers, snowboarders and top snowsports industry workers from around the world congregating in a geographically small but larger than life alpine environment demanding everyone push their limits…and sometimes kiss too much ass to be liked by the “right” people.
Regardless, the high-desert Wasatch Mountain Range dominating the backdrop of Salt Lake City, Utah, is a bucket-list destination for anyone who aspires to great things on their skis or snowboard (not to mention enjoy the most per capita blue-bird, blower pow days than anywhere else on the wintry planet).
Too many young, talented riders idiotically assume someone isn`t that great of a rider because he/she isn`t the flashiest, styliest, most acrobatic or aggressive snow slider out there on any given day.
These shots prove — aside from the out-of-this-world skiing abilities of Sam & Eric — that there`s no room for arrogance toward your fellow skiers and boarders. You never know what that “old” guy or girl sliding on the snow accomplished back in the day before their bodies said “ENOUGH! PLEASE!” and moved on to leisurely cruising in the sun instead of challenging themselves on mega-booters.
So you think you`re hot sh%*# out there on the ski hill? Ok…it`s your turn to launch the Flagstaff Gap.
From aerial madness up the road from North American Winter Olympic host city, Salt Lake, to sky-bound mayhem above Europe`s Winter Olympic stadt, Innsbruck, Austria.