Enjoy the moment: Kotsenburg just rides
Ryan Summerlin January 15, 2011
If Sage Kotsenburg expected to be as good as he is now, he surely doesn’t admit it.
The 17-year-old Park City slopestyle snowboarder has a low-key, laid-back persona that seemingly carries over onto his numerous competition circuits.
"It’s a whirlwind," said Kotsenburg.
Having lived in Park City for 13 years, he grew up snowboarding on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort with his older brother, Blaze. At the age of five, he strapped into his first snowboard and by the age of seven he was competing.
Starting at age eight, he won every U.S. Snowboard Series event he enrolled in for the next four years. He made his U.S. Open slopestyle debut at the age of 12, and with each successive year, Kotsenburg has continued to improve and to turn heads.
"It definitely worked out, like crazy fast," he said. "Time seems to go by in the blink of an eye."
As the 2009-10 Winter Dew Tour men’s slopestyle season came to an end, he found himself sitting at No. 1, finishing with a season-high in total points (260).
With a Dew Cup in hand, he also took fifth place at the Winter X-Games a year ago and took a silver medal in the 2009-10 X-Games Europe.
Kotsenburg is enjoying his blossoming career, and says there’s no feeling comparable to competing at the Winter X-Games. He is salivating at the opportunity in the next couple months.
"It’s just so epic," he said. "There’s a super good vibe and you’re like in superstar status. Dropping into that lip at the X-Games it’s a really big rush."
So far this season on the Dew Tour, there’s been one stop at Breckenridge, Colo., an event in which Kotsenburg struggled a bit.
He said he had a run of successful practices before the competition started. However, the course got dumped on by sticky snow on the last day of the competition and snow accumulated in the middle of many jumps.
"It just wasn’t working out," he said. "I couldn’t clear the jumps."
Kotsenburg finished 11th overall. But he is ready to get back on track when the tour stops in Killington, Vt., next weekend.
But life for the 17-year-old isn’t always snowboarding; probably just 99 percent. Kotsenburg is home schooled and has only two more classes to finish before he graduates. Most of his friends attend Park City High School and when he’s not soaring through the air, he can be found hanging out with friends.
When asked if the college path is in his near future, he addressed the question as if he’d never heard it before.
"Right now, I don’t really feel I need to go to college," he said. "I’m just not rushing into it."
His focus on improving his snowboarding technique is simple: just work and try things that have never been tried.
"You have to learn tricks so fast," he said. "It’s not only about having ability. It’s not just a double-cork 360; it’s something that’s pretty heavy. It’s scary trying to go that another 10 feet."
Being an innovator at 17 isn’t easy. While it may look fairly easy, the technique and thought behind tricks should not be underestimated.
"You take one rotation, you multiply it and you just hope it works out," he said. "Once you know how to do something you’ll be fine.
"It’s almost like going in slow motion. You think you’re going to die almost; it’s like a rollercoaster."
Even having broken his wrist three different times, his collarbone twice (repaired with plates and screws), and a knee injury, the youngster is able to keep a smile going, knowing full well what he’s able to do.
"It’s funny how it all works," he said. "It’s all good."