Get Out There
(page 4 of 5)
Local snowboarders shoot for gold
“In Idaho, I think we’re all a specific breed,” states 23-year-old Kaitlyn Farrington, who grew up snowboarding on Baldy and is a very strong contender for a spot on the US Women’s Snowboard Team for the Sochi Olympics. Whether it’s the mountain geography, the athletic community or something more,
at the heart of the Wood River Valley lies an undeniable recipe for breeding Olympic athletes.
Snowboarding as we know it began to develop in the late-1960s as a conglomeration of surfing, skateboarding and skiing. But it didn’t enter the Olympic arena until 1998 in Nagano, Japan.
For a relatively infant sport, Sun Valley already claims quite the history of Olympic snowboard athletes. Eighteen-year-old Chase Josey was born in the Wood River Valley, and soon thereafter was making his way down the mountain on skis. At the mature age of five, his dad taught him how to snowboard on Dollar Mountain and it was all downhill from there! Chase joined the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) snowboard team when he was just nine and began focusing on halfpipe at the start of high school. With exceptional results in Grand Prix and World Cup events, Chase was invited to join the US Snowboard Team his senior year in high school, and now is hoping to become one of the top four US men that will compete in the halfpipe at Sochi.
“I’m excited to compete with such a field of riders. Everyone is going to give it 100% and I’m excited to give it my best effort,” says Josey, while at home in Sun Valley, where he spent time this fall training in the gym and in the SVSEF’s “Air Barn” in Elkhorn, which offers foam pits, a trampoline and a slack line.
It actually took Sun Valley a while to introduce a terrain park as part of the resort experience, but in recent years such facilities have been growing. Last year, there was an Olympic-size halfpipe with 22-foot-high walls for Chase and others to fly, spin, flip and twist out of over and over again. Sun Valley’s terrain park is now highly renowned and offers local competitors a state-of-the-art training ground.
“Those who came before my generation set the stage and created heroes. A lot of the earlier Olympians from the area remain involved and supportive of the athletic community. The original Olympians, and all of us, benefit from the outdoor lifestyle of Sun Valley,” says Graham Watanabe, another born and raised Sun Valley local who is a two-time Olympian in boardercross. He adds that “the challenging and consistent pitch top-to-bottom that Baldy offers breeds all-around good skiers and snowboarders alike.”
Whether it’s local legend Sondra Van Ert, who raced Snowboard Giant Slalom in the 1998 and 2002 Olympics, or Kaitlyn Farrington, who hopes to be flying high on the US Halfpipe team this winter in Sochi, Sun Valley fosters a vibrant community of Olympians past, present and future.