This serene picture of Mark Abma pulling a floaty off-axis air over Whistler Mountain is misleading. You can't see the massive kicker (some 35 feet below) or hear the helicopter whirring (photographer Blake Jorgenson was shooting from it).
But Abma is used to the noise. Ever since he smoked an intense line in British Columbia's Bella Coola Mountains for the opening sequence of Matchstick Productions' 2004 movie Yearbook, the 25-year-old former Canadian freestyle team member turned standout slopestyler turned all-mountain ripper has been the center of the ski media's attention. This season, he scored the marquee segment in Warren Miller's Higher Ground and a juicy sponsorship deal with Salomon skis. But he's not resting on his luminary status just yet: The low-key kid from the 'burbs of Vancouver still likes to go big. "I spend as much time jumping as I can," says Abma. For a solid month this fall, he hit tabletops and rode in the pipe exclusively, which means he could strike it rich when he squares off against the likes of Tanner Hall and Sage Cattabriga-Alosa at K2's Back 9, a big-mountain/new-school event at Whistler this March with a $90,000 purse.
THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR
WEIGHT: 170 lb.
HOME MOUNTAIN: Whistler Blackcomb, BC
SECOND OPINION: "Mark is super-strong in the mountains, and can throw down tricks in the park. And he's built like a bull-shooting Mark is not like shooting a skinny little park skier." -Blake Jorgenson, Skiing contributing photographer