"It's been a crazy couple of days," Kotsenburg said. "I'm still tripping out."
Kotsenburg landed a second place finish on the third stop of the Winter Dew Tour Feb. 6 in West Dover, Vt., earning him first place overall in the men's slopestyle event and the snowboard rookie of the year. He said his phone hasn't stopped ringing since; from friends and family calling to say congratulations, to agents and sponsors wanting to make him a deal. Strangers stop him for an autograph, he said, and someone - he's not sure who - made him a fan page on Facebook.
"I think it's funny because seven years ago, that was me. I wanted to get someone's autograph," he said. "It's so crazy. It's like I'm walking in a dream right now."
In the first big win of his career, Kotsenburg landed a cab 270 onto the gap rail, switch 270 on to the second rail. cab 900, a frontside tail grap 270 on the Toyota Box, half cab on the down bar, and frontside 1080 to a backside 1080 with 90.25 points to beat out his best friend Tyler Flanagan (Mammoth Lake, Calif.), who led the tour by 20 points going into the third event. Flanagan fell on both his runs at Dover and took third place overall.
"I felt so bad when he was coming down," Kotsenburg said. "I was trying to see it through his eyes. It just slipped away just like that."
According to press release from Kotsenburg's sponsor Quicksilver, Kotsenburg was the only rider on the Dew Tour to podium for slopestyle at every event this season. He took second in Breckenridge, third at Snowbasin and second at the Championships at Mt. Snow. He finished the season with 260 points ahead of Torstein Horgmo and Tyler Flanagan. Torstein Horgmo of Norway took first place on the third stop and second place overall.
Next up for Kotsenburg is to stay in Park City and begin rehabilitation for a knee injury he suffered when he took fifth in the men's slopestyle and sixth in big air at the X Games in Aspen, Colo., Jan. 29-31 - an injury made worse by competing in the final stop of the Winter Dew Tour.
"It hurt pretty bad," he said. "But it was definitely worth it."
He said he has a small meniscus tear and a bruised tibia, but both should be healed before he heads out to the Arctic Challenge in Norway March 5-6 and the European X Games March 7-10. In the meantime, he said he might make his own official fan page on Facebook, but said anyone can send a friend request to his personal page, Sage Cullen Kotsenburg, and he won't turn it down.
Kotsenburg's advice for anyone wanting to become a pro snowboarder is first to get parents' permission and second to hit the mountain every day. He said there are many ways to stay in school and still snowboard - Kotsenburg himself is homeschooled.
"Go snowboarding every day for as long as you can," he said. "You'll know everything about you on a snowboard, everything about your snowboard, everything about the mountain. You learn so much more that way."
He suggested taking summer snowboard camps at Mount Hood in Oregon where amateur snowboarders can work with professionals like Danny Davis, he said.
"You can hang out with them and learn a bunch of tricks," he said. "Or you can go to New Zealand, but it's way more expensive and you have to know what you're doing."
For those who can't take the summer camps, he suggested skateboarding every day.
"It's not the same, but it's a real good cross sport," he said.
He said most important is to have a good time.
"You can't take snowboarding too seriously," he said. "It's just a sport."