Words by Milo McSenderson
Skiers ages are often a mystery to those that follow them, a mix of lots of headwear and different timelines for coming onto our screens means that it’s frequently hard to tell how many sun rotations these steezers have completed. I can tell you that the research for this piece proved this theory repeatedly. “He’s got to be over 25”… 16 and, “they’ve just blown up on my social media they must be young and on the come up”… 28. So being the good Samaritan I am (with help from the crack team of my trusty editor and the brain power behind the @ski_gram insta account), I have compiled a list of 20 skiers under the age of 20 that you should be keeping an eye on over the next few seasons as they are going to be sending fire straight to your Instagram, holding down the Newschoolers homepage, or winning the X-Games. Without further ado lets meet these fine fellows and fellettes:
Birk Irving (19 // @birkiving) is a certified pipe lord, bagging 1st place in both the World Cup in Mammoth and Winter Games NZ in Cardrona. Check out his run from Cardrona (added bonus commentary from Woodsy) which he caps off with a filthy down the pipe dub flat 7, it’s baller. Birk has an all-round game that exceeds the icy walls of the super pipe - his rail and jump tech are up there with the best and he’s proven the depth of his trick bag in some mammoth SLVSH matchups like this BATTLE with Ferdinand Dalh in Grandvalira!
Caroline Claire (19 // @car0line_claire) is a style queen with a deep bag of tricks. Riding for Faction, Caroline features in this year’s offering, The Collective. Caroline has a lot of competition experience and her film part brought a lot of hype with it, alongside that stacked Faction crew. Find Caroline stacking some banger shots all next season and putting down hammers in the X-Games. Just take a gander at Windells’ Session 3 recap from 2018, which has some heaters from her and Jennie Lee Burmannson (also in this list) to feast your eyes on.
Eileen Gu (16 // @eileen_gu_), straight outta San Fran is going to be making waves this coming winter. Clocking comp wins this season and putting together some super smooth clips. With good trick variety and an ability to do big spins off large booters that well surpass her age. Qualities such as these are the reason Faction have just snapped her up, she’ll be in good company on that team and no doubt there’s so much more to come her way. Eileen is going to be one to watch for many seasons for sure.
Elena Gaskell (18 // @elena.gaskell) is spending this season following the World Cup circuit and searching for that elusive X-Games invite. Inspired by family and friends alongside top flight skiers like Joanne Killi and Mathilde Gremaud (discussed below). Elena has a smooth style with one of the nicest switch 5 axes I’ve seen in a long while. Keep your eyes peeled on world cup podiums because Elena has them in her sights!
Deven & Kiernan Fagan (17 // @devenfagan @kiernanfagan) are 17-year-old twins, who are absolutely tearing the scene up. Both riding for Oakley their Oakley week edit (below) is absolute fire. We had a few words with Kiernan prior to writing this piece, and backed up by all their clips riding together, he said that riding with his twin brings out their respective competitive sides - they work hard and bounce of each other when learning new stuff. Evidenced by both of their crazy levels of progression recently! Alongside tearing up the park Deven and Kiernan are big into their fitness. Keep your eyes peeled on their content over the season, we couldn’t choose between the Fagan twins so we hit ya with both!
Jed Waters (18 // @jed_blue_waters) has been cropping up on my Instagram feed for a while now. He has the sickest jump game, with some awesome axes (recent dub flat 12 is a favourite), and a greasy rail tech to match. His shots from Mount Hood this summer have all been bangers, and he’s had some sick cameos in the last few year’s Windells edits to boot. Now a part of the recently curated We Are Leathers team (alongside a pretty stacked crew) and having already been real constant on his content drip, we have no doubt this season is going to packed with fire footy from Jed. All this at 18 means that Jed is one you’ll be wanting to follow; big progression and very tight style is a proven formula for big things to come in the coming seasons.
Jennie Lee Burmannson (17 // @jennieleeburmansson) is one of the top female skiers in the game right now, oozing steeze and tech. Comp experience and genuine style make Jennie an awesome skier to follow, Jennie has an X-Games Big Air gold (Olso, 2018) to her name. Although her 2019 season was cut short through injury, Jennie is back on snow ready and already ripping in Ruka. Her 17/18 shots are smooth as hell and we can’t wait to see what further progression she’s capable of post injury.
Joona Sipola (19 // @joonasipola) is this list’s resident flying Finn, and I tell you… Finnish skiers fly. Joona was one of this year’s Level 1 Superunknown finalists (his entry alone was pure face melters) and blew my mind in every recap. Flips on and off rails, dubs in the pipe and huge triples off jumps, Joona has all bases covered. Go and watch all the Level 1 Superunknown recaps (if you haven’t already, sort it out) again and just watch for Joona. Jaw on the floor material.
Justin Taylor-Tipton (19 // @jtt_ski) is AfterJam’s resident young gun absolutely bossing the game both on and off UK soil. Catch him bagging podium spots all over (every UK podium during his youth career, and getting them done out in Europe too) and dropping his signature switch backie screamin’ semen off jumps of all sizes, Justin’s steeze is all time. He brings back that 2003 style with the 6XL tall tees and makes the pro line features look like light work. The only reason (probably) he hasn’t been invited to SLVSH yet is cause it would be too easy for him. Whilst recently injured Justin is coming back with serious intent, podiuming at the Brits and recently nailing some easy ones like his switch 6 ons (was told he couldn’t hit big kickers just yet, so the rail game got a tuning), proving to us all that injury can’t stop his stunts. Keep your eyes peeled on Justin’s feed this winter, he’s going to be dominating.
[JTT capping that nose at Mt. Battersea // 📸 Striking Faces]
Kelly Sildaru (17 // @kellysildaru) has been absolutely crushing the women’s slopestyle game for the last couple of seasons; 3 X-Games slopestyle golds, 2 World Cup slopestyle golds and 1 WC halfpipe gold shows that Kelly’s silverware collection does the talking (and they’re just the golds!). Kelly’s recent halfpipe gold is just the start of a career in the stunt ditch. Landing a switch 10 to take home the win, with plans to work on amplitude and the halfpipe as another string to her bow. Kelly is set to be dominating all three freestyle formats for years to come. Let’s not forgot the she missed the whole season before last through injury and came back firing even harder than before. Also stomping a “perfect” run in the slopestyle at X Games this year, it’s honestly mad to think she’s just 17.
Kirsty Muir (15 // @kirski12) is truly bossing the women’s comp scene in the UK right now and isn’t taking any backwards steps in the European comps either. Grabbing her fourth Brits indoor victory, that’s in a row too, as well as second (to Kelly Sildaru) place in the Junior World Slopestyle, and third in Big Air, this year in Klappen, Kirsty is out to dominate. Her Instagram feed is dripping in style and big sends. Hailing from Scotland we’re hyped to be rooting for her all season and following her progression with the GB team.
Matej Svancer (15 // @matej_unicorn) is already a force to be reckoned and a name a lot of current pros are regarding as one of the next big athletes to hit the skiing scene, just check out his 2019 Become a Nine edit which would be a banger edit for someone twice his age. Matej was stoked for the first world cup of the season in Modena, following this with local Europa Cups in January culminating in the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Lousanne. At 15, he is having to balance school life and skiing pretty equally, but also taking the training seriously and utilising local gym facilities to his advantage, which is a commitment to the sport that for athletes his age isn’t regularly made a priority (his trampoline footage on insta is also strangely watchable considering it’s tramp footy). Matej has his eyes on Audi Nines at the end of the season and we’re hoping he makes it to that one as we know he can bring the heat!
Mathilde Gremaud (19 // @mathilde_gremaud) is another on this list oozing ladies comp pedigree. Her 2019 Aspen X Games Big Air gold showcases two flawless tricks (a switch left dub 10 and a right bio 9), Mathilde took home the gold in Big Air at the first World Cup of the season in Modena, stomping a dub 12 safety and adding a safety to blunt combo into her right bio 900, big fan of this. In her time off the hill Mathilde enjoys ripping a downhill bike and hiking the mountains when they’re sans snow. Her stack of medals also boasts an Olympic slopestyle gold. Keep your eyes on Gremaud, she’s got the big tricks and that kinda style that makes them look easy, so always a fun skier to watch.
Nicco Huber (17 // @niccohuberx) has put out one of my favourite 18/19 season edits of the athletes on this list, well edited and a deep bag of tricks. What I love about this though are his backies and fronties, say what you want but I love ‘em, I’m a simple man with simple tastes, and I’ll take a floaty well-executed maneuver over some spin2win anyday (that being said though, Nicco can also spin like a mother so he’s keeping everyone happy). Look closely and you’ll be able to spot which goliath of the industry is soon to add him to the team. Nicco decided to stay away from FIS this season and instead is planning on spending the winter focusing on his progression and stacking clips. His well edited cut from last season makes me super hyped for his seasons edits and instabangers. Nicco is a must follow!*
*They all are!
Paul Vieux Temps (19 // @paulvieuxtemps) hails from Thailand and that’s not the only exotic thing about him. Paul has an insanely creative rail game to back up his big spinning jump steeze. His clips from railzilla last season consist of a Lincoln loop swap and some beefy flips on too. His 2019 Become A Nine shows off a huge catalogue of tricks, including the first (if only) triple misty 12, which is just straight bonkers. This man loves a misty. But has all the axes on lock. Keep watching to see what wackiness he brings out in the coming seasons.
Sam Lobinsky (18 // @sam_lobinsky) is one of the notorious east coast madmen in the line-up. Always firing on all cylinders at his home resort of Trollhaugen. Sam is a rail wizard but regularly shows off skills all over the park. With plans to get a street part out over the next coming seasons and big trips to Utah and Oregon (Mecca for US park skiers) we’re expecting some big things from Sam in the upcoming seasons. He says Tom Wallisch and Max Moffatt are his biggest inspirations, citing the latter as having his favorite style these days (I can’t say I blame you Sam).
Taisei Yammamoto (18 // @taisei.yamamoto0329) featured in this year’s SLVSH Cup in Grandvalira and blew many people away his future spins, we saw an 1170 happen early doors and leave so many people wondering who this crazy young rail wizard was, his actual rail tech also goes stupidly hard so don’t be thinking he’s only got the mad spins in the locker. Having competed for Japan in the PyeongChang Olympics, Taisei is well versed in piecing together monstrous slopestyle lines. His big air load out of tricks is also hella impressive – and a long way into the future – we hope to see some longer edits from Taisei in the future but the insta content is consistently phone melting.
Tom Greenway (18 // @tomgreenway1) is a Tamworth local hailing from the UK, is often found destroying rails all over the local UK scene, either this or sending it into the future in the glory of the Alps. Recently starting to make some waves across the European circuit, Tom brings a level of ease to tricks that really shouldn’t look that chill – he’s got stacks of footy on his insta from winter so have a browse if you’re keen for swift entertainment. We have no doubt there’s going to be a lot more coming from Tom, the sort of progression he’s shown over the last couple of years has been unreal, and waves have definitely been made.
Zach Schuster (16 // @zach_shuster3), 16, (@ ) is an east coast rail rat who has some astonishing ability. A key player in the Human Being series, alongside Sam Lobinsky, Zach has shown serious skill that you’ll want to be keeping your eyes glued too, not only does he have a classic east coast rail tech, but his jump game is on fire and he’s even logged some cracking street shots. His season edit from last season showcases all of this and is filled to the brim with bangers and energy (switch Lincoln Loop really tickles me). If Zach keeps drinking that Trollhagen water (rumoured to have water only rivalled by Ruka’s) he’s going to produce some serious heat from the east this year.
Kids these days… are gosh darn well sending it! It always baffles me the bag of tricks these young shredders have pulled together over their considerably shorter time on this planet than mine. It’s insane to watch, slightly upsetting at times, but most importantly shows the future of freestyle skiing is in good hands. Keep your eyes on this lot over the next few years as they’ll be standing tall on podiums and dropping some huge content. This article was written in collaboration with the homies from @ski_gram and they came through clutch, obviously the more ski nerds we could pull together to work on this list the better. This article has been produced 3 people who spend almost all their time off the mountain watching videos of people on it, so trust – we know what we’re talking about. Follow these cats, they’ll be keeping you entertained all winter, you heard it year first.