Great year gets better for Sage Kotsenburg |

Great year gets better for Sage Kotsenburg

If you met Sage Kotsenburg, you probably wouldn’t think that the 20-year-old Park City resident was getting ready to head to Russia for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Kotsenburg carries himself more like a ski bum than a professional athlete, enjoying life and not drawing too much attention to himself.

Outside of the terrain parks at Park City Mountain Resort, where he can often be found when he’s not traveling to and from competitions, he says he doesn’t get recognized very much around his hometown.

In fact, during lunch on Monday afternoon, Kotsenburg receives a few glances from people who seem to think they might recognize him from somewhere but aren’t quite sure where.

But that’s fine for the slopestyle pioneer, who would rather just pick the tomatoes off a sandwich than trouble someone to make him a new meal.

"I’m just this dude that likes to snowboard and have fun," he says nonchalantly.

Recommended Stories For You

As the pile of unwanted tomatoes grows on his plate as the sandwich slowly disappears between interview answers, it’s clear how much Kotsenburg truly enjoys the sport to which he’s dedicated his life.

"I live off snowboarding," he said. "It’s literally all I think about."

He swears that the fact he’s going to the Olympics in a matter of days still hasn’t sunk in.

"It really felt like nothing changed when I made the team," he said. "Everyone was like, ‘You’re going to the Olympics!’ And I’m like, ‘Woo. Cool.’ I think it’ll hit me when I’m flying over there that I’m going to the Olympics. But it hasn’t really hit me yet."

One can certainly forgive Kotsenburg for not looking to the future – the present is going so well. After a second-place finish at the Air & Style event in China in December, Kotsenburg recently took two silvers and a gold medal at an Olympic qualifying event in Mammoth, Calif., to secure his spot on the U.S. Olympic Slopestyle Team alongside Shaun White, Chas Guldemond and Ryan Stassel.

Last weekend, Kotsenburg competed in the X Games, where he says he had a blast even though he didn’t snag any podium finishes.

"I didn’t do very good – I fell on both my runs in slopestyle," he said. "Then, in big air, I landed all my stuff, but I just didn’t get to move on and get on the podium or anything."

Though the results weren’t what he had hoped for, he says he still had a blast in Aspen. After all, a day spent on the slopes is never wasted.

"I did some tricks in big air and some in slopestyle that I definitely want to do in Sochi," he said. "I was stoked to get those a little more consistent, because I really want to throw those in my runs."

He’s just not sure where he’ll throw those new tricks into his run since there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Sochi slopestyle course.

"No one has ridden it," he laughed. "We were supposed to have a test event there last year, but for slopestyle there wasn’t enough snow, so they couldn’t build the course. It kind of sucks because nobody has any idea. We saw diagrams and everything, but no one knows if there’s enough snow now to make the full course, or if there are going to be really small jumps – I don’t know, it’s going to be crazy."

But, ever the optimist, Kotsenburg is hoping for the best.

"Sometimes if it’s like that, you go in with low expectations and it turns out that it’s sick," he said. "Sometimes it turns out awesome."

After Kotsenburg leaves for Sochi on Wednesday, he says he can’t wait until he’s back on the course, doing what he loves to do. He’ll have a brief layover in Munich, Germany, where he’ll receive all of his Olympic gear and opening ceremonies uniform.

For a guy who can usually be found wearing a baggy Nike hoodie, the Ralph Lauren-designed U.S. opening ceremonies garb might look a little funny.

"I was actually laughing about it last night – all the crazy opening ceremony stuff," he said. "It’s definitely some next-level stuff that I would probably never wear outside the Olympic Village. But, it’s the Olympics and they put a lot of work into designing all that stuff. It’ll be funny to get everyone in there."

But, after having fun showing off the new clothes, Kotsenburg said he can’t wait to show off a new sport to the Olympic crowd.

"As much as we want to go there and do well and represent the USA, we want to make sure we soak it all in," he said. "Being the first slopestyle team, we want to have fun and show people what the sport is all about, too."

The snowboard slopestyle finals will be held Saturday, Feb. 8, at 1:45 a.m. Mountain time.