There’s no real science in selecting which young rider is Dropping Next. It’s a rather simple decision: a Jackson Hole shred who not only stands out on snow, but also in life. Some years it’s a tough choice. This year, however, it was about as easy as it gets.
Neo Emery is Dropping Next.
Fourteen-year-old Neo has been a member of the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club’s (JHSC) Freeride Program since he was old enough to be on the snowboard team. Since day one you could tell he was not only going to rip, but that he’d also look good doing it.
As @lilneo_123 grew, his style and approach to new terrain developed well beyond his years. Look no further than his last two seasons for proof of his prowess. Neo is a regular on the podium at Wednesday Night Lights Rail Jams as well the regional USASA series in slopestyle, halfpipe and boardercross. He annually qualifies for USASA Nationals in multiple disciplines and has won his age group in the Dick’s Ditch Banked Slalom three years running. Most notably, Neo has earned the title of JHSC’s Snowboarder of the Year in both 2015 and 2016—a feat very few of his predecessors have accomplished.
Of course Neo rips. You wouldn’t be reading about him if that weren’t the case. But it’s his personality, drive and modest approach to snowboarding that really set him apart from the pack. Neo is the perfect example of someone who let’s his riding do the talking—a rare characteristic in our current “look-at-me” digital culture. He’s humble, creative and works hard to make it look easy. No ego, just pure stoke day after day. The kind of dude everyone wants to ride with.
When asked about Neo, JHSC’s former head snowboard coach Andy Lex said he has his own style “that doesn’t mimic anyone else’s. It’s totally inspired by what feels good.”
“He snowboards because he loves it, not because it’s cool.”
Neo’s shred roots run deep in Jackson Hole. His father, Robert (two-time winner of the Freeride Program’s “Rad Dad” award) was part owner of Jackson Hole’s iconic Illuminati Snowboards brand with Lance Pitman. Ironically enough, Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine got its start as an Illuminati Snowboards catalog.*Neo was only two years old when JHSM came to life and now 12 years/issues later, he’ll be charging through the 16/17 season with Head Conspiracy Theorist Lance Pitman as his new coach on the JHSC Snowboard Team. “Illuminati” is the plural of the Latin word Illuminatus, which means, “enlightened,” and that’s exactly how you’ll feel after seeing this kid shred.
*Read John Rodosky’s interview with Lance Pitman in the 2014/15 Issue Ten of JHSM for more on this magazine’s genesis.
Jeff Moran was JHSC’s head snowboard coach and Freeride Program director for 10 years. Now he’s just another kook scraping all the snow off the trails..