1.5 years ago Kevin Nichols and I walked up to Chads Gap on a clear but cold spring morning. We both hit it and I ended up landing a dub back. We both left that day overwhelmed by the fact that we had achieved one of our biggest goals in skiing. However, I’ve never really told the full story. And now that it has kinda resurfaced I figured this is as good a time as ever to tell it.
The dirty secret is, while I did land the trick, I didn’t ride away. In fact, Chads was not hit and ran out clean once that day. But I’ve never told people this because I put all my energy and soul into hitting this jump that day and I still wasn’t good enough to ride away from it. I didn’t want people to say things like, “He didn’t ride it out so it doesn’t count”. This jump is nuts and I have respect for anyone who’s ever cleared that gap no matter if you landed it or not and no matter if you ran it out or not. You basically launch yourself going around 60mph over a 120ft (35-40m) gap and then into a gully! But let’s start from the beginning.
In the Spring of 2017 Tanner Hall and friends had built Chads and then happened to session it on the last hot spring day in the forecast. I wasn’t able to make it to their session because I had school that day. But I wasn’t going to give up that easy. I saw that there was one day, about a week after Tanner’s session, where it might warm up just enough to hit it. Thankfully, Kevin was around and down to join me. Hitting Chads was a dream of his as well.
The two of us hiked up and when we got to the jump it was still way too icy. We waited, scoped the jump, and did a couple speed checks as the snow began to soften. Then, during the peak temperature of the day, the wind came and started to turn the top of the snow icy again. “Do we hit it?” we talked between ourselves. We were the only ones around, it was quiet, and all you could hear was the wind go through trees as we both were terrified about would possibly go down next. The first inch of snow was soft but the rest was bulletproof and it wasn’t going to get any softer. I hiked up.
In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to hit it, but I was also prepared to just do another speed check and walk away if it didn’t feel right. Kev was at the bottom in order to radio me when the wind calmed momentarily allowing for a window to possibly drop. He also had his phone out just in case. I got the radio call, “Drop”, and I felt it. That feeling where you just know you can do it. I had to hit it.
First hit was a straight air and I went deep. Not as deep as Mike Wilson but I for sure overshot. The wind got under my skis, I landed super backseat, ended up in the gulley, and it hurt. The snow was not soft. Also, the runout of Chads is difficult because if you don’t turn left super fast to go uphill then you end up in this gulley that hits you like a wall. In this case an ice wall because the landing was the last thing to get sunlight. But I was in it now, I had to land something. Kev hit it next. He just squeaked over but got bucked and hit his head. But he made it over, so he called it good there. You can ask him for more on his story.
My second hit, a 3. But I over-rotated to 7 (I hadn’t felt that much speed and airtime before) and backslapped super hard again. After that, I was sore, tired, and only had enough in me for one more hit. I didn’t want to try a single flip because I thought I would over rotate again but I wanted to try something I was confident in. The only trick in my bag that fit that criteria was dub back. So I sent it, and the below video is the result!
The @drinkbutter crew happened to show up part way through the session and I’m thankful for the much need moral support for the dub back 👌 After I sent the dub back Kev and I chilled for a while watching them session this QP hit built on the Chads gap landing. It was a much needed unwinding session for us after what we had just been through.
While no one actually rode away from Chads clean, we had both made the gap and were completely satisfied with that alone. It’s easy for me to blame it on the snow conditions that were sub par that day and part of me still thinks that if I had just been a little more patient with my turn after I landed I could have made it work. Still, I would never hit Chads again under those conditions. But, I do feel like I have unfinished business with this jump. Given the right opportunity and conditions, I would definitely come back to it. Just to ride away clean.