Nine-year-old Parkite Evan Kuhns tackled the Silver Summit Challenge this past weekend, the youngest to do so
If Evan Kuhns could go anywhere in the world for one day, where would he go?
His answer to that question was surprising.
Rather than go to somewhere like Disneyland or a Major League Baseball stadium, Kuhns didn’t hesitate to say something closer to home.
“Park City Mountain, that’s easy,” Kuhns replied, with a goofy smile that only a happy 9-year-old could express. “It’s my favorite place to be because I love snowboarding. I come here all the time and wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”
It’s fitting that Kuhns said this while sitting in the second floor of the Legacy Lodge at the base of Park City Mountain Resort, having just completed the annual Silver Summit Challenge on Saturday afternoon. With a cheeseburger in one hand and a French fry in the other, Kuhns was all smiles while sitting next to his dad, Glen, who completed the challenge with him.
The “Peak Challenge” was specifically designed for expert skiers as all seven of the courses are either blacks or double blacks. There are seven checkpoints throughout the challenging terrain, which also include some short hikes to reach the highest points on the mountainside.
Those competing are invited to tackle the challenge of conquering checkpoints at Murdock Peak, 9990, Peak 5, Dream Peak, Limelite, Jupiter Peak and King Con Express in one day.
At just nine years old, Kuhns was the not only the youngest competitor to take part in the challenge, it was his second straight year of tackling the black diamond and double-black diamond courses.
“Last year was his first year doing this challenge and he showed no fear of doing it, not even once when out on the snow,” said Evan’s mom, Christina, a former photographer for the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team. “He just has this strong passion for snowboarding and chasing powder with his dad. He is willing to hike anywhere just to get to some fresh snow and never complains about doing it, that’s how much he loves it.”
Evan first started snowboarding when he was three years old, as his family would often visit Park City on vacation. In 2013, he first got on a snowboard while visiting Park City Mountain Resort, as his mom would push him down the bunny hill and his dad would catch him at the bottom.
But even then, his mom could see the twinkle in Evan’s eyes when on the snowboard and knew this would become a regular thing. Then the family relocated to Park City, and snowboarding became a major part of Evan’s life after his mom took a job with Park City Resort on the Canyons side.
Now Evan’s life revolves around the sport of snowboarding.
“I definitely love snowboarding, probably an 11 out of 10 is how much I love it. … And it’s something I want to do forever,” Evan said. “I want to be a pro snowboarder. … I want to be in the X Games and the Olympics one day. I dream about it all the time and I know it’s what I want to do when I’m older.”
Evan is homeschooled, allowing himself the maximum amount of time on the powder that he can get. Already this season, he’s been on the snow for 124 days and doesn’t anticipate slowing down at all.
Glen works from home, so when Evan is done with his schoolwork, they pack up and hit the slopes — embracing this father-son bond that has them also being like best friends according to Christina.
On Mondays, she takes Evan to Woodward where he tries new tricks on the trampoline to get better acquainted with what he wants to do out on the snow. On Saturdays, he’s up at 6:30 on his own and out the door 45 minutes later just so he can be first on the lift, and won’t come off the mountain until the last lift has touched down. And on Sundays, Evan works with his snowboard coach, spending all day on the mountains getting private instruction, something his parents both say is vital to his progression.
While Evan isn’t even in double digits age wise, both Glen and Christina have been approached by several snowboarding programs about having their youngest of four children join their respective teams. While it’s nice to have Evan’s skills and abilities validated, Evan’s parents don’t want their son to join any big time programs as of yet — rather choosing to let him stay a kid as long as possible knowing what his future may hold.
“We monitor his social media account where we post photos and videos of him snowboarding, and it’s gotten a lot of attention already,” Christina said. “But we try to keep it lowkey because we know at some point he’s going to get really big and he won’t be able to be a normal kid. We wan to make sure we always keep him humble and polite, so he’ll have that foundation when he goes off to bigger things.”
But before any of that happens, Evan and his family are just happy to be together and enjoy their time chasing new powder — for however long that lasts.
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