Male Slalom Skier of the Year
At just 21, Nate Smith is doing what most guys take decades to figure out, if they ever do. He knows how to use the boat to maximize his performance, which is one reason he’s run 41 off six times — that’s more than anyone else ever has — in record events since last September. Smith times his cross-course attack perfectly with Zero Off, reducing the boat’s surge and allowing him to move freely into the turn in the most efficient manner. Watch him ski and you’ll immediately notice that he is always light on the handle. Smith’s rise in the sport has been as laid-back as his personality: He says he watched his dad ski, but never got into coaching. He doesn’t mess with his fin and rides a stock D3 X7 ski that “anyone could get off the street,” as he puts it. Over the course of the last 12 months, he’s won slalom titles at several major events: the Katy Ski Jam, the Moomba Masters, the Masters and the Malibu Open (though the Open didn’t factor into the judging for this award).