In the late 1800’s, the Michigan City mine, up Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, began to create what is now a staple in the snowboard and ski industry. The jump that spans 130 feet across two mine tailing piles has been hit by only a talented few.
The jump is Chad’s Gap.
The feature was discovered by Chad Zurinskas and Brent Benson in the winter of 1999. While hiking, they found the two tailing piles left from the Michigan City mine and decided it was a possible ski jump.
Skier, Candide Thovex was the first person to successfully land Chad’s Gap and was the first to land an inverted 720, called the D-spin. After that session, the gap was on the minds of several top riders in the ski and snowboard industry. Travis Rice is recorded as the first snowboarder to hit the jump; Dan Brisse and Bjorn Leines have also had sessions at the jump.
Since the gap is made up of two large mounds, coming short on the landing means hitting a wall.
On March 5, 2005, pro skier, Tanner Hall came up just short of the landing and broke both of his ankles on impact. His crash, being one of the first major injuries recorded on the feature sent shockwaves through the snow industry and led to the Alta Ski-patrol to unsuccessfully attempt to destroy the jump with avalanche charges.
For Bjorn Leines, one of the industry’s most progressive veteran riders, the jump is one of the most intense features he has hit, even after landing tricks such as backside 720 and cab 900 over it.
“Chad’s gap is the scariest. It’s like 130 feet long and you have to hit it going about 60 mph. I was there when Tanner Hall didn’t make it and it was pretty gnarly. Not making it isn’t really an option,” Leines said.
Dan Brisse, being known for his intense work ethic and constant was featured hitting the jump in Absinthe Films “Now/Here.” And after landing a corked frontside 540, he joined the elite group of riders in the industry that can add Chad’s Gap to their list of accomplishments.
Brisse also says that Chad’s is the most intense feature he has experienced.
“Chad’s Gap is the sketchiest thing, there is a spot in the runway where you have to hit the jump and a lot can go wrong. I mean you could get g’d out or catch an edge and it’s a gap that you don’t want to come up short on,” Brisse said.
Even with several pro riders filming at the location, many skiers and snowboarders are unable to find it. Multiple snowboarding and ski forums are filled with threads begging to learn the location of the legendary jump as well as novelty items such as key chains and bumper stickers asking where it is.