The year 2021 was a strange one. We were supposed to come out of the pandemic. That didn’t really happen. Sports, snowboarding and surfing specifically, pushed through, despite the shutdowns and delays. The summer Olympics was pushed back from 2020, and surfing finally had its debut. In snow, Travis Rice brought us a new event that redefined snowboarding competition – and it went off flawlessly. The World Surf League was able to persevere with its season, despite rearranging everything and the world still managed to turn, in spite of all the chaos. These are the five most impactful stories from The Inertia in 2021. Here’s to pushing onward and upwards in 2022.
Snapt4 Winner Forfeits $50,000 in Prize Money
For the surf fan, no one is doing surf films like Logan Dulien and the Snapt productions these days. The releases are the most anticipated events in surfing given the lack of proper production companies making real edits as the vlog world has taken over. Snapt offers prize money for the best sections, decided by a slew of iconic judges. This year, Barron Mamiya had a part for the ages but was forced to forfeit his cash because he used previously released clips. “Money comes and money goes. It’s not the end of the world,” Mamiya told The Inertia’s Juan Hernandez. But that cash sure would of paid for a lot of plane tickets. Mamiya was still stoked on the year he had, and the kudos he got from eventual winner Jack Robinson. “I think people are catching on to how good Barron surfs. And it’ll be a confidence booster for him too,” Dulien said.
Ocean Cleanup Proved Its Second System Works
Always one to closely follow the anomalies of the sea and its nuances, The Inertia’s Alex Haro reported on the Ocean Cleanup Project’s successful return to its mission: picking up plastic from our oceans. The first version of the massive system Boyan Slat and his team invented broke down in 2018 when the enormous boom wasn’t holding the plastic it collected. Big problem. After refiguring the project, Slat and his team returned in 2021 with success. In July of 2021, System 002 — or Jenny — hit the water for testing. “The 12-week test campaign has now been concluded successfully – we have now reached proof of technology,” the team said. “System 002 will continue harvesting plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and in tandem, we will start working on System 003, a larger, upgraded ocean system, which is expected to be the blueprint design for scaling to a fleet of systems.” How big was the story? A couple million people read it, proving that clean oceans will always be top of mind for nature-loving humans.
Surfing Debuts in the Olympics and Despite the Criticism, It Worked!
In July, The Inertia’s Joe Carberry was in Japan for the Olympics, writing a series of articles about the beautiful people, the problems with pandemic travel, and of course, Italo Ferreira and Carissa Moore winning the first Olympic gold medals in surfing history. One of the biggest takeaways for Carberry was the naysaying on social media ahead of the event. But somehow, the core of surfing neglected to take into account the emotional power of the Olympics and how it can enthrall. And we were there to capture it. “The Olympics have always been about swimming pools and track stadiums and baseball diamonds,” wrote Carberry. “Even boxing rings. But the ocean? Surfing was never supposed to be included amongst the floor routines and fencing. But here we are, where the waves were anything but perfect and the upsets were many, which may have actually made the whole thing better.”
The Nuggets of Surfing Wisdom Barton Lynch Dropped During Olympic Commentating
Suffice it to say, the Olympics was the most important event in surfing during 2021 as WSL athletes and non-Championship Tour surfers took to the water to represent their respective nations. Australia’s Barton Lynch was on the call and he absolutely nailed it, disseminating the event perfectly for the surfing and non-surfing public alike. The Inertia’s Will Sileo, always one for finding a slick angle, picked up on the wisdom being dropped by the iconic surfer and wrote about it. The piece blew up on our website and on Instagram, as fans around the world paid tribute to Lynch. “Stoke is one of those words that surfers use all the time,” Lynch said during the NBC broadcast. “Really it’s the essence of satisfaction through challenging yourself – being a surfer and paddling out into the ocean challenges you every day, every time you do it. You can never beat the ocean, you’re never the boss, it’s always the boss, and it brings such joy into your life to be engaged with the ocean in the way we do, riding waves.”
Travis Rice Gathered an Incredible Mix of Athletes for the Natural Selection Tour
There would be little argument in the snow world: Travis Rice changed the game with his three-stop Natural Selection Tour last winter, pulling in an insane group of athletes to represent the sport with a comp format most every snowboarder could relate to: backcountry freeriding. Basically, picking a line and making the mountain and its natural features a skatepark. From Jackson Hole, to British Columbia to Alaska, the tour went off incredibly well with Robin Van Gyn and Mikkel Bang becoming the inaugural tour champions. But it was Rice’s power of persuasion, bringing together the right mix of athletes, that made the tour go off. “Whether it’s filming an award-award winning movie or putting on a show-stopping competition, Travis Rice has a knack for bringing in the right people to make things epic,” wrote Inertia contributor Ben Osborne. “He has more pull in the snowboarding world than any brand, or event, at this point. That’s because he’s built a powerful cachet after pulling off huge competitions and film productions himself, gathering the perfect mixture of riders to make the experience for viewing incredible”