Sage Kotsenburg enters a new frontier
December 22, 2011
The script couldn’t have been written better for Park City’s Sage Kotsenburg.
After the slopestyle snowboarder burst onto the national scene at the tender age of 16, the last two seasons have been a learning experience for the jovial Kotsenburg, now 18, who already has an overall Winter Dew Tour Cup to his name. He’s experienced the early ups and the later downs, and he said he’s primed for a big season this year.
So when he was approached to be on the inaugural United States Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) slopestyle pro team, the Parkite thought it was prime time to make the leap.
"I feel like Park City is just the Olympic town," Kotsenburg said. "At least being on the road to Olympics is cool. Being one of the four main guys that they picked is really cool. All those guys are my best friends. If we could all go to the Olympics, it would be amazing."
Kotsenburg said he expected the invite, but it wasn’t always a lock. The free-spirited snowboarder said he’s never really had a coach or authority figure when it comes to his style and sport.
"I went back and forth for a while and it wasn’t an easy decision for me; it was a big decision," he said.
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But when former World Cup snowboarder Bill Enos was dubbed as the new program’s head coach, Kotsenburg leapt at the opportunity.
"I’ve never been coached, but know they picked some really good coaches and the only coach I would work with," Kotsenburg said. "That was a deciding factor. Being on a team isn’t for everyone. The coach and I have a friendship level and he knows me. I know what I’m doing. I’ve been doing this my whole life; having him there as mental support and just being there for me is sick."
Since he made his decision, the Winter X Games silver and bronze medalist said he’s enjoyed the team aspect with USSA and the bevy of training opportunities at the Center of Excellence.
"The dudes that are there for you — it’s not just you anymore," he said. "It’s you and your team."
Most recently, Kotsenburg participated in the first Winter Dew Tour Nike Open stop of the 2011-2012 season in Breckenridge, Colo., where he said he may have had the most impressive run of his career.
But the judges saw it differently.
After a four-jump run that included a backside double cork 1080, a switch backside double 1080, a cab double cork 1260 and a frontside 1080, Kotsenburg figured he’d at least finish in the top three. He finished sixth.
"No one really knew," he said, laughing. "But every contest someone gets gypped really bad. I guess this time it was just me. When it happens, it just happens. It happens to everyone, but I was stoked to land the run."
Kotsenburg is back in town for the holidays, but will go back to his globetrotting ways on Jan. 7 as he will attend the O’Neill Evolution 2012 Big Air event in Switzerland. After that, it’s onto Killington, Vt., on Jan. 19-22 for the next Winter Dew Tour stop before jetting over to Aspen, Colo., for the 2012 Winter X Games.
He said he’s eager to just focus on himself and his own tricks after a 2010-2011 season which he said, featured "unneeded expectations."
"I love pressure, except when I put unnecessary pressure on myself," he said. "I was just putting stuff on myself; last year was a good experience for me. I had some really high points in the year, but wasn’t too excited about my riding.
"I’m just way more stoked and focused this year. I definitely want to hit it hard at X Games — I’m just searching for that gold, man."