Steamboat snowboarder Nik Baden earns rookie of the year honor
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Slopestyle snowboarding is a sport of marketing — creating your own brand or style with each signature trick.
To do that, Steamboat Springs rider Nik Baden has mixed it up a little this year, and it’s working.
Baden kicked off his season competing in the Team Challenge at Dew Tour from Dec. 13 to 16 in Breckenridge.
The Team Challenge is only in its third year at Dew Tour and welcomes six teams of three athletes representing their respective brands as they compete against each other in modified pipe, jumps and jibs.
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Baden, a member of the Capita team, teamed up with snowboarders Chase Josey and Johnny O’Connor and competed in the jump portion of the competition.
“The brand chooses a few people they would like to have for the event,” Baden said. “Capita is the snowboard that I use. They chose me to ride the jumps. I was happy to do the jumps because that’s what I do most of the time.”
Josey gave the team an early lead on the pipe, and Baden competed against athletes like Olympic gold medalist Red Gerard in the jump portion.
“It was kind of cool to be a part of it,” Baden said. “Maybe somebody doesn’t do as good, but somebody on their team does really good. It’s more of a group effort.”
Baden’s 76.67 score helped lift Team Capita to second place after several strong performances by DC Snowboarding and Rome SDS.
“I ended up having a pretty good run that I was proud of,” Baden said. “Pretty chill because I hadn’t been riding big jumps like that for a couple months. Our group, we were all pretty good friends. We were hyping each other up, and I had a good practice. I did some stuff that I hadn’t done in a while, so it felt really good.”
Capita later took second overall in the event with 245.67 points, behind DC Snowboarding’s 254.33 points. Rome Snowboards took third overall with a score of 230.33.
Baden also filmed a video with Snowboarder Magazine, traveling to different parts of the world filming tricks in backcountry terrain with nine other snowboarders.
“Before, I had just been doing competitions,” Baden said. “But I hadn’t really put myself out there to the snowboard community in way of video, which is pretty important for most snowboarders’ careers.”
Filming videos is advantageous for snowboarders to both market themselves and the brands they wear, which helps keep sponsors happy or attract more.
Baden traveled to Whistler’s backcountry in Canada, central Oregon and Austria to film. Going off the beaten path and doing jumps outside the terrain park was a different experience.
“There still is a learning curve,” Baden said. “It’s harder to land, and there’s more that goes into building the jump.”
Not only was Baden conquering new terrain, but he was also trying to do it on queue with other snowboarders for the film while the cameras followed, hoping to get every good shot.
“It’s a bit of a group effort into making one good shot for a video,” Baden said.
The video is what earned Baden the Transworld Snowboarding Magazine men’s rookie of the year award. Although Baden, 20, has been snowboarding professionally since he was 16, he had yet to film his moves.
Baden travels to Europe next for a competition in Switzerland before returning back to the states for X Games Aspen from Jan. 24 to 27. He hopes he can make trips to more backcountry terrain for his next video.
“I think it helps with everything about snowboarding,” Baden said. “Just basic turning and making your way through the terrain park.”
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Herman is the freestyle skiing winner of the Summit Daily’s Peak Performers project, which honors the greatest athletes and most influential figures in Summit county ski and snowboard history.