5 Epic Photos of Thayne556472598593

Sam Watson Loves Thayne Rich

Thayne Rich and I have known each other since we were 9 or 10 years old, I can’t exactly remember. Both being Salt Lake City natives, we met through playing little league soccer. I’m sure everyone out there has or had that one friend growing up that was just good at everything. Good at skateboarding, soccer, dirt jumps on the bike, unicycling. Well, that was Thayne. He was undeniably talented at whatever he was doing, and it was equal parts frustrating and motivating for myself and our other grom compadres. There was a time in the winter, probably around sixth grade, when I was at the local sled hill on a golf course near our houses. Some kids had built what seemed at the time a massive jump and they were hitting it on skis. Thayne was there with some older kids that were all trying to hype each other up to do a backflip off it. After quietly eyeing the jump while the older kids deliberated, Thayne dropped in and tried it before any of the older kids, laying out a perfectly rotated laid-out flip and stomping it.

Many other kids I knew around that time would tell everyone who would listen if they could backflip on skis, but not Thayne. And that is an ethos that he still carries, which I really respect. He will not tell you about his incredible talent on skis, but if you follow him around Alta for a day or watch one of his edits, you definitely will see it. He walks softly and carries a big stick, to make use of a presidential adage. This mentality is especially refreshing in the digital age where intrusive self-promotion and skiing influencers are a dime a dozen. Thayne, one of the only skiers I know to have a pro model ski, is relatively quiet on social media, occasionally posting short clips of mind-blowing skiing with short captions. The guy is skiing for himself, and it shows.

 

Ever since I’ve been into taking ski photos, Thayne is one of my favorite skiers to shoot. Whenever we go out together, I know we’re going to get a grade A big air shot. Below are some of my favorites we’ve gotten together over the years.

Flagstaff Gap, 2017

This was the last really good snow year we’ve had in Utah (tear). Utah is notorious for big gap jumps (Chad’s, Pyramid, etc.). What many people don’t realize is the amount of work that goes into these huge jumps, and the requisite amount of snow to build them. The upper Flagstaff gap is no different, as the inrun requires a ton of snow to be moved to make a perfect inrun. Myself, Thayne, and a rotating cast of others built this monstrosity over the course of 5 days. It was Thayne’s idea to build it, and this photo made all of the long days and sore muscles worth it for me.

Golden Alpine Holidays, 2017

This was the first ski trip that I’d gone on that made me feel like I’d “made it” (whatever that means in a ski photography context) as a ski photographer. Matt Sterbenz had called me to go on a 4FRNT team trip to Golden Alpine Holidays with Thayne, Eric Hjorleifson, Shane Treat, Harrison Brickman, and Austin Ramaley (4FRNT videographer at the time). It was amazing to have a good friend like Thayne there to experience that with, and this photo ended up being my favorite from the trip. It was an aesthetic amphitheater that Hoji said he’d never skied. Thayne dropped in during a perfect light window and laced this spine flat spin.

Golden Alpine Holidays, 2017

Same trip, different feature. It was amazing seeing Hoji ski pillow lines that I’d seen in Matchstick movies for years, and it was equally amazing to see Thayne’s take on them. I especially like this shot because it really gives a sense of scale to how big the line is.

Alta Side Country, 2016

This was from the days that I was into carrying my strobe setup around the backcountry. Despite the extra strain on my back and hip flexors, sometimes I think I should shoot with it more for shots like this one. Initially, I was frustrated that the flash didn’t totally freeze Thayne mid-air, but I’ve come to like it as I think it shows how fast he is going through the air. I also like that the jump looks like it’s on fire.

Grizzly Gulch 2016

There isn’t much of a story behind this shot. I just really like the light and Thayne’s style mid-air.

 

- Written by Sam Watson

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