Generation Next

The kids are the future—and they’ve just arrived. From Crankworx Whip-Offs to DH tracks around the world, a new generation of rippers is on the verge of exploding into the mainstream. Dane Jewett, one of the many young shredders in this contingency, stirs up a storm on Whistler’s notorious A-Line trail. Photo: Margus Riga

Generation Next A Quantum Leap in Progression

You might well know the feeling: You’re fully pinned on your go-to trail, railing corners and generally having the ride of your life, when suddenly a pack of tiny teenagers flashes past you in a pint-sized flurry of speed and fury, leaving you in dust clouds of shock and disbelief.

If you haven’t experienced this phenomenon, then brace yourself. Because it’s coming soon to a trail near you. And when it comes, this runaway train of little humans will blaze by you so quickly you’ll only wish you could be the caboose.

In the past few years, a new generation of next-level rippers has emerged, giving glimpses of raw brilliance seldom before seen at such tender ages. We’re talking about kids 11 and 12 years old who are dropping their semipro-level parents on some of the world’s most challenging trails. Or 15-year-old downhill racers who are qualifying at times faster than some of the World Cup circuit’s elite men. Even on the freeride front— until recently the domain of male riders—15-year-old

girls are joining massive jump sessions with the likes of Logan Peat and Brandon Semenuk. The sheer talent of these young shredders has many predicting we’re on the verge of a quantum leap in progression—one that is bigger and more profound than anything our sport has ever seen.

“What we’re seeing right now is completely nuts,” says Anthill Films’ co-founder Darcy Wittenburg, who lives in Squamish, British Columbia, where he routinely witnesses 12-year-olds dropping their fathers on the area’s most technical trails. “Here in Squamish, we’re seeing elementary school kids who are riding better than many adult semipro riders. They can already ride the hardest lines in Squamish,

which is one of the hardest places in the world to ride. And because these kids are so young, we’re only getting an inkling of what the next waves of progression are going to be like.”

For the moment, this trend is more pronounced in places already renowned for pushing the progression envelope—particularly in British Columbia, where virtually every town from the province’s rugged interior to the coastal Sea to Sky Corridor to Vancouver Island has world-class trails and a vibrant riding culture.

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Eyes on the prize for Jakob Jewett as he races his way into 4th overall at the 2019 Crankworx Whistler Ultimate Pumptrack Challenge. For 2020, Jakob joined the likes of Troy Brosnan, Mark Wallace and Jack Moir on the Canyon Collective Factory Downhill Team. Photo: Fraser Britton