Covered Ground: October 2000

Follow me, on a journey into the pages of POWDER past

Skogen Sprang discovers the New World with a tail grab in Alaska's Chugach Range. PHOTO: David Reddick
Skogen Sprang discovers the New World with a tail grab in Alaska’s Chugach Range. PHOTO: David Reddick

The October 2000 issue of POWDER is accurately emblazoned with the headline “The Future.” At the time, the issue was a glimpse into what skiing has become today, starting with the cover.

Skogen Sprang notched this memorable cover shot with a classic 360 tail grab, shot by David Reddick, POWDER’s photo editor now and then.

In the photo, Sprang is riding some of the first fat twin tip ski prototypes, the Line Mothership. According to Sprang, he asked Line to build him a fat ski for this trip to Alaska, and then mounted them at a shop right in Girdwood.

The trip to Alaska is featured in a story within the issue called, “Welcome To The Big Mountains, Kid. Now What?” Written by Keith Carlsen, the editor of the magazine at the time, the story chronicles Sprang’s first venture into the peaks of Alaska. It served as a case study of sorts on the future of freeskiing as a sport, as more and more park skiers were moving into the big mountains. Sprang ripped first descents but was hesitant in throwing tricks—which were winning big air contests at the time—to the consequential arena.

Carlsen finishes the story with this line: “With guys like Skogen, who plan to keep pushing the trick evolution and have a desire to take those skills to big mountain environments, the future should be a very interesting place to ski.”

Indeed it is. Throwing tricks in the backcountry is still a major focus and frontier of the sport. The names of professional skiers pushing the limits have changed, but just as Sprang demonstrated on his trip 15 years ago, the mountains have the ultimate say in what is possible on their faces.

Some of the very characters pushing the movement were also featured in the story, “Leaders Of The Next Regime,” a list of the top 20 park and pipe skiers at the time. The second name on the list (behind Evan Raps) was Tanner Hall. Only 16-years-old when this issue was released, Hall’s baby-faced portrait looks quite different than the bearded mountain man who has shaped much of the sport in his career path since.

The remainder of the list is a who’s who of freeskiing history, featuring names like Shane Szocs, Julien Regnier, JF Cusson, Sprang, Mike Douglas, and Candide Thovex. Also on the list are a few skiers the mountains have since taken from the sport and their loved ones: JP Auclair, Shane McConkey, and CR Johnson. The issue demonstrates the magnitude of the contributions all of these skiers, both those living and who have passed, have shared with our sport.

Later in the magazine, senior editor Porter Fox’s story, “The Gates of Wrath,” discusses the newly open backcountry policy in Jackson Hole, and the long, arduous process that made it a reality. The story features timeless shots of Jackson Hole Air Force member Jason Tattersall ripping the Four Pines backcountry and beyond.

These pages beg the question: What is next? Of course, only the future will tell for sure, but one thing is certain. Fifteen years from now, it will definitely be worth looking back on.