The Best Adventure Sports Stories of the Decade

As our lives have turn into extra wired and interconnected, more and more Uber-ed and Insta-ed and Amazon Primed over the final 10 years, the must disconnect is just extra amplified. Discovering the time to get away, and the means to unplug and check oneself in nature: That’s one battle. Discovering the motive why is one other. Over the final decade, our companions at the Adventure Sports Community Group toiled to supply that steerage, documenting the worlds of outside motion and journey sports activities by capturing the colourful lives of people who put their pursuits exterior the field first. We requested the editors from the group’s hallowed assortment of titles to choose the long-form options that impressed deep thought and direct motion (and impassioned response) from their core audiences. And positive sufficient, it was well-crafted profiles of the most dedicated characters and the missed locations, the ones thriving on the margins, that rose to the floor and offered the most profound revelations about who we’re and what we search exterior. Listed below are the prime suggestions for the final decade’s most impactful reads picked by the editors who ship SURFER, POWDER, BIKE, SNOWBOARDER, Canoe & Kayak, TransWorld SKATEboarding, Newschoolers and SUP.


Mark Occhilupo at the Coke Traditional, Manly Seaside, 1987, three years after setting the surf world on hearth, although finally run down in the world title chase by Tom Carroll. When Occ finally returned to assert the title in 1999, there was a notable absentee on Tour. “Don’t tell anyone,” he whispers, “but the year I won the world title, Kelly wasn’t there.” Courtesy SURFER Journal/Peter Simons

Wanting again at the final decade, SURFER has showcased shifts in the sport’s tradition and its defining occasions, tales that Editor Todd Prodanovich says “helped us make sense of Andy Irons legacy, snort at ourselves for falling into surf-hipster cliches, contextualize the sweeping changes to competitive surfing and really feel genuinely awestruck at the varieties of off-grid adventure some surfers are nonetheless capable of finding on this ever-shrinking world.” Nonetheless, for Prodanovich, it’s the definitive profile of Australian icon Mark Occhilupo that he ranks as his all-time favourite characteristic in SURFER‘s storied run, coming into its 60th 12 months in 2020.

“It’s unequivocally the greatest comeback story in the history of surfing,” Prodanovich says. “Sean Doherty perfectly captures the strange charisma of Mark Occhilupo and paints a picture of a life truly unlike any other in surfing or otherwise.” Read the 2015 story by Sean Doherty.

As inviting as Lunada Bay can look throughout a stable swell with glassy circumstances, the infamous localism of the space has stored all however the boldest guests from paddling out. Courtesy SURFER Journal / Woodworth

Past missed corners of surf tradition on “the other North Shore” of Lake Superior, to monitoring the rise in wave pools, Prodanovich factors readers nearer to house with a deep look into localism and its discontents with the attention-grabbing lawsuits from 2017 that embroiled Southern California’s Lunada Bay. Prodanovich calls it a “strange story of the downfall of one of California’s most notorious groups of local surfers, and what it could mean for the practice of localism as a whole.” Read the 2017 story by Ashtyn Douglas-Rosa.


Deadwood, S.D., would by no means be thought of a ski city, until you actually thought of the scene at close by Torrey Peak. Courtesy Powder Journal / Robin O’Neill

For POWDER Editor Sierra Shafer, a decade that has divided consideration by over-serving tales is finest remembered with items that forged the highlight on timeless high quality that too usually goes under-appreciated. That recognition means odes to tangible symbols of ski tradition like the humble wire ticket wicket, or a deeper take a look at a color-blind Swiss ski photographer who captures mesmerizing drone imagery. In the case of vacation spot protection, Shafer chosen colourful portraiture of ski hills from a personal in-holding deep inside the coronary heart of B.C.’s Cathedral Provincial Park to a pair of unlikely U.S. resorts in the Black Hills and the Catskills. Read the 2019 story on a small South Dakota ski community that hitches its wagons to mining, by Clare Menzel.

Laszlo Vajtayand rips aside one of Plattekill’s signature bump traces. Plattekill, New York. Courtesy Powder Journal / Dave Reddick

As soon as the roof of the New World, New York’s Catskill Mountains stay a skier’s escape. Read the 2019 story by Porter Fox

Courtesy Powder Journal / Zach Doleac

The different under-appreciated facet of snowboarding that POWDER highlighted over the final 10 years had been the undiscussed human ones. That goes for people with the launch of the title’s award-winning Human Factor sequence — exploring the psychological parts concerned with decision-making when snowboarding in avalanche terrain — in addition to the collective labor that powers the ski expertise. That’s, the hundreds of J-1 visa employees employed at ski resorts round the U.S. every winter, bussing tables, bumping chairs, checking raise tickets. By shadowing the short-term international employees at Lake Tahoe’s Homewood resort, the journal gave readers a deeper take a look at what, and who, make ski resorts go spherical. Read the 2018 story by Megan Michelson


Courtesy Snowboarder / Gary Land

For SNOWBOARDER Editorial Director Pat Bridges, the alternative of a narrative topic to memorialize was apparent: Jake Burton Carpenter, the man who Bridges says, “impacted the riding life more than any other.” After Burton Carpenter’s current passing in November, Bridges described his pioneering role not as the first to step on a snowboard or discovered an organization, however as “the first to define himself as a snowboarder,” and a person who made snowboarding his life’s work. In Bridges’ sprawling 2016 interview with Burton on the eve of his firm’s 40th anniversary, the two candidly talk about how Burton Carpenter began making boards, being outlawed into bumming snowcat rides at evening, his early partnership with Craig Kelly (and its authorized fallout with Sims), creating highback bindings, in addition to delicate topics like his bouts with most cancers and Miller Fisher Syndrome and its devastating outcomes: paralysis, suicidal ideas, and open-heart surgical procedure. Burton Carpenter’s outlook on his restoration and the hearth that has sustained his firm is actually price the longer look. Read the Sept. 2016 interview.


Courtesy BIKE / Joey Schusler

Uncovering trails has lengthy been a tenet of BIKE‘s destination coverage. With the decade’s shift from print- to digital-first marquee content material releases, Editor Nicole Formosa highlights HUAYHUASH as the piece the place an epic ends-of-the-earth story efficiently met revolutionary digital-first storytelling codecs. The interactive, four-chapter parallax scrolling characteristic incorporates phrases, pictures, video clips of three Colorado-based associates who set out on a self-supported mountain bike circumnavigation of one of the world’s most great and depraved mountain ranges — the Huayhuash of the Peruvian Andes. And the result’s an enduring story (the accompanying movie stays one of BIKE‘s most-viewed YouTube movies of all time). See the 2014 story by Joey Schusler and Thomas Woodson.

Colin Meagher’s spouse Nikki Hollatz on a daybreak patrol trip in Washington’s Entiat Mountains, the place Meagher made this image that graced BIKE’s Dec. 2017 cowl. Courtesy BIKE / Colin Meagher

Colin Meagher_Tyler Roemer
Colin Meagher Courtesy BIKE / Tyler Roemer

Explorations to distant lands aren’t the solely BIKE tales that caught out to Formosa. There’s a lot of inspiration to be plumbed from profiles of eccentric riders — whether or not it’s Rage Towards the Machine bassist Tim Commerford and the 12-year-old neighbor who received him into using mountain bikes; or Peter Donner, a unusual Utah canyon-dweller who does the identical seven-hour, 50-mile trip daily of the using season — and extraordinary locations, like the football-crazed deep South, the place Kristin Butcher documented the lasting impact of highschool mountain biking leagues. Nonetheless, few tales strike as many nerves as the highly effective characteristic on Colin Meagher, one of the sport’s most revered photographers, documenting his gripping battle via ALS that continues after being handed what amounted to a demise sentence with the analysis. Read Mike Ferrentino’s June 2019 feature.

Casey Brown_Bruno Long
Courtesy BIKE / Bruno Lengthy

No BIKE listing can be full with no nod to this characteristic on Casey Brown and the way her wild upbringing (and suspect circumstances surrounding her brother’s demise) have formed her using profession. “She was just coming onto the scene,” Formosa says, “but is now one of the most recognizable women in the sport.” Read Formosa’s 2015 feature.

From Canoe & Kayak

Illustration by Martin Simpson. Courtesy Canoe & Kayak / Martin Simpson

As a longtime C&Okay contributor, Tyler Williams is used to penning tales from the annals of whitewater, like his 2018 characteristic on the life and legacy of Doug Tompkins, or his August 2012 basic on the historic Canoandes expedition by a gaggle of Polish college students who slipped the Iron Curtain and altered river-running eternally. Two years in the past, nevertheless, Williams inserted himself, inadvertently, in a single of the most gripping tales in Canoe & Kayak‘s 46-year run. He recounts a harrowing run-in with an armed landowner in Arizona that led to pictures fired and a 22.5-year jail sentence. Read Williams 2018 account.

Kelty_Ariel Diaz
Kelty on the decrease Marañon, July 2017. Courtesy Canoe & Kayak / Ariel Diaz

This decade has seen a lot of extraordinary paddling feats, together with: Aniol Serrasolses’s 2018 solo one-day run of the Stikine; Aleksander Doba crossing the Atlantic (again) in 2017; Erik Boomer and Jon Turk kayaking around Ellesmere Island in 2011; Freya Hoffmeister’s 2015 circumnavigation of South America; the 2015 first descent on Papua New Guinea’s Beriman River; the 24-hour distance padding world report velocity descent set on Idaho’s Salmon River in 2017; in addition to C&Okay’s unique on Knox Hammack and James Shimizu notching the third, fourth makes an attempt on 189-foot Palouse Falls earlier this 12 months (to call just some).

So far as superlative accomplishment goes, the mighty Amazon noticed its share of firsts as properly, from Darcy Gaechter becoming the first woman to kayak the total Amazon in 2013, in addition to West Hansen’s 2012 fastest source-to-sea descent from a brand new, most distant supply found (and paddled) by exploratory kayaking legend Rocky Contos earlier that 12 months. Nonetheless, a pair of C&Okay evaluation piece by former editor Jeff Moag: one on an Amazon paddler’s fraudulent world record claim with Guinness; one other on the tragedy of Emma Kelty’s homicide throughout a separate crack at “the Everest of source-to-sea descents,” has us asking more durable questions on why paddlers undertake lengthy solo endurance expeditions — and what they hope to achieve in return. Read Moag’s 2017 story.

From TransWorld SKATEboarding

Courtesy TransWorld SKATEboarding / Jaime Owens

Past their assertion movie launch of final 12 months’s DAEWON, a documentary characteristic overlaying the profession highlights and unsure life moments all through the 30-year-career of skateboarding legend Daewon Song, in addition to an interview series monitoring skateboarding’s inclusion in the 2020 Summer season Olympics, TransWorld SKATEboarding continues documenting the sport’s subsequent innovators and influencers. TW SKATE Editor Jaime Owens was fast to spotlight a chance he had final 12 months to seize a potent combine of expertise that’s the Volcom Skate group taking over New York Metropolis. See Owens’ June photo essay here.

In the case of an athlete of iconic GOAT stature like Tony Hawk, you will get buried in over-coverage, getting life advice from the legend, to his take on CTE and safety equipment, to how Hawk stayed in shape to land the 900, a defining trick of his profession, a long time later at age 48. Owens digs a bit deeper into the TW SKATE archive, suggesting a 2015 interview illuminating Hawk’s unfiltered tackle the full story of the authentic 900. Read the story by Mackenzie Eisenhour.

From Newschoolers

ChadsGap_Brent Benson
Chad Zurinskas in 1999. Courtesy Newschoolers / Brent Benson

Whereas just a few notable interviews emerge atop Newschoolers’ finest freestyle ski tales of the final decade — from the first with the ever-creative Eric Pollard in 2015 and its recent followup, to a 2014 dialog with the endlessly stylish Phil Casabon — Newschoolers Editor Twig Spensley highlights one which cuts slightly deeper in ‘Unbuckling the Suicide Belt,’ in addition to the curious consideration of the legendary Chad’s Hole, dropped at life by Salt Lake Metropolis photographer Brent Benson, who witnessed practically each session at the Utah backcountry ski soar of jumps, “from the very first kicker constructed by Chad Zurinskas to Tanner Hall’s redemption run in 2017.” Read the full story by Emma Renly.

From SUP

Bertish_Jason Pickering
Courtesy SUP Journal / Jason Pickering

The final decade noticed the explosive rise after which gradual contraction of a brand new phase of water sports activities as standup paddling unfold shortly throughout the globe. SUP Journal offered a voice for the burgeoning sport as a wave of manufacturers, athletes, innovators, instructors, occasion organizers and acolytes alike embraced totally different disciplines of the sport, throughout open oceans, surf zones, lakes and rivers. At ever cease, the story remained the identical: an thrilling act of pioneering one thing new, or a minimum of a brand new strategy to expertise and perceive our bodies of water. Whether or not it was city explorations and wild expeditions or first standup river descents and race divisions, the frontier really feel permeated the protection. Former Editor Will Taylor’s first-person tackle one of the sport’s most sacred checks, the legendary Molokai 2 Oahu race, marked a excessive level, as did former Affiliate Editor Jack Haworth’s 2018 tackle how Puerto Rican paddlers recovered in the wake of Hurricane Maria. For a single occasion marking a notable SUP first nevertheless, few rival the pleasure of Chris Bertish’s solo and unsupported 93-day crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. Read Haworth’s 2017 coverage, from Bertish’s touchdown in Antigua.

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