2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Spotlight: Sage Kotsenburg
Sage Kotsenburg is lucky he has an older brother who didn’t mind letting him tag along on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort.
By his own admission, Kotsenburg just wanted to do everything his brother Blaze, two and a half years his senior, would do.
"He stopped skiing because he was pretty over it – he wasn’t down with it anymore," Kotsenburg said. "I just did anything he did, so I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m over skiing, too. This is wack – I’m going to snowboard.’ So we started snowboarding and just loved it."
Having your five-year-old brother trying to keep up with you all the time probably gets annoying, right?
"No, not really," Blaze Kotsenburg said. "That’s kind of how we progressed – we just fed off each other. Even when I used to compete, I was never competitive against my brother. We just loved riding with each other and we still do. I feel like that’s what keeps it fun."
For Sage, keeping it fun is what it’s all about. The Park City resident lives and breathes snowboarding, so keeping things fresh is goal number one.
"It’s my life," he said. "I love snowboarding so much. I live off snowboarding – it’s literally all I think about."
But, though the 20-year-old has made it to the top of the slopestyle snowboarding world, he knows that competing isn’t everything.
"There are so many different aspects outside of competition in snowboarding," he said. "You can go freeriding, you can just go hit rails, you can go hit hand rails, you can go film on hand rails, you can go hit pow with your friends or you can go build a pow jump – there are so many different sides of snowboarding and competition isn’t the only side I love. It’s all this other stuff that comes into it. Once I’m out of the contest and I can just go ride and film, it’s like I have just as much fun doing that as I do at a contest."
After a year in which Kotsenburg has made several podiums and qualified for the first U.S. Olympic Slopestyle Snowboarding Team, he still doesn’t see himself as a big star – he thinks his Olympic teammates (Shaun White, Chas Guldemond and Ryan Stassel) bring the star power to Team USA.
"It’s a pretty sick team," he said. "I think we’re one of the best put-together teams as far as being charismatic. We’ve got Shaun on the team, who’s mainstream – a crazy global face of snowboarding. Then you’ve got me – I’m just this dude that likes to snowboard and have fun. Then Chas is like the in-between, and then there’s Ryan, the up-and-comer."
Blaze said it’s still strange to think about how much of an impact his brother is making on a global scale.
"It’s kind of weird to see that," he said. "But he’s like a pretty big face in snowboarding now, so it’s pretty cool to see. It’s cool to see that he keeps snowboarding fun even though he’s doing the serious side of it – not a lot of people do that."
But Sage has made an impact, and he’ll look to continue making a name for himself at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. And, though he admits he hasn’t fully grasped the magnitude of what will be his first Olympic experience, the fact that he’ll be a part of history when slopestyle snowboarding makes its Olympic debut isn’t lost on him.
"I’ve thought about that a lot," he said. "It’s pretty sick to be in the first of anything, especially in a sport that’s growing so fast and getting so big and mainstream. I’m really stoked to go there and show everyone what I think slopestyle is all about."
He added that he and his teammates won’t change their styles just to conform to a worldwide stage.
"We’re just going to go and have fun and represent the U.S.," he said. "And hopefully we can make it look cool."
Whether or not Sage comes back with an Olympic medal, Blaze said the way he feels about his younger brother won’t change.
"To me, my brother’s still the kid who lives upstairs and never cleans the house," he laughed.
Follow Sage and the U.S. Olympic Slopestyle Team as they try to bring home gold in the slopestyle finals on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 1:45 a.m. Mountain time.
Thank you for reading the series of Sochi Spotlight profiles in The Park Record over the past few months. To read previous profiles, please visit http://www.parkrecord.com/sochispotlight.
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.