On the back side of Coronet Peak—a popular ski area outside Queenstown, New Zealand, that tops out at 3,894 feet—a rocky spear juts from the scrub grass. The spot has become a hub for the local mountain-bike scene, and it was here at sunrise, on a January morning, that photographer Tyler Roemer captured Carson Storch, a professional American freerider, pulling off a 360 spin.
The jump was impressive, no doubt; but for Storch, it was about more than just thrills. He’d ventured to New Zealand to pay tribute to Kelly McGarry, a former teammate who died from cardiac arrest a year earlier, at age 33, while out free-riding trails. For years, the two had traveled and competed around the world together, and McGarry—perhaps best known for having backflipped 72 feet over a canyon, in a 2013 competition—had been something of a mentor to Storch, who was about 10 years younger.
“He put me under his wing from the start, and we got really close,” Storch recalled recently.
To honor his friend, Storch wanted to visit some of the spots around McGarry’s home of Queenstown that he’d helped put on the map, including this one—where McGarry had always wanted to land a 360 but never got the chance.
“It was an emotional thing,” Storch said, “ticking a box that he was never able to fulfill.”