Parkite lands on U.S. Ski Team
People questioned Colby Stevenson and his mother, Carol, when he decided to pursue slopestyle and halfpipe skiing.
Why would they put so much time and effort into something that wasn’t even an Olympic sport, they wondered.
But Stevenson never faltered in his decision, and his mom never wavered in her support of his dream.
"It’s a passion for a lot of ski athletes," she said. "And there are the X Games to compete in and this was what my kid really loved to do. Everybody has his or her own purpose and I think it’s important to support that."
That support has paid off, as Stevenson, only 15 years old, has earned a spot on the U.S. Freeskiing Rookie Team. And, slopestyle and halfpipe skiing are now Olympic sports, set to debut at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in February.
"I was sitting at home and got a call from one of my coaches that had wanted me on the team," he said. "It was his first year coaching for the team and he was really stoked and said, ‘I’ve got some good news. You’re on the team.’"
Since then, Stevenson has been training at the Center of Excellence, going down the water ramps at the Utah Olympic Park and jumping on the trampoline in his backyard, trying to perfect some new tricks before the snow comes this winter.
"Without the trampoline, I probably wouldn’t be able to do like half the tricks I can do," he said. "Without it, you wouldn’t know how to do the rotations or know where you are in the air. And all the tricks convert really well to skiing."
All the practice seems to be paying off for Stevenson, who has been on skis since he was 14 months old. He’s only suffered one significant injury in his career.
"I broke my heel when I was 10 years old," he said. "I knuckled (missed the ramp and landed on the flat snow) a jump by like two feet and that’s all it took. I was out for like a year."
He said that’s all part of the sport, but he tries to be as careful as he can when he’s doing his tricks.
"You just have to use good judgment," he said. "Mistakes can happen in the blink of an eye; you won’t even know it’s coming."
Stevenson’s mom said he’s always been a bit of a daredevil though.
"It’s been really interesting having him as a kid," she said. "He’s always been a bit of a risk-taker. Even as a little boy, when he was racing for the Summit Ski Team over at Canyons, he didn’t like waiting in line. So, he ended up building a kicker (a small jump) along the side and taught himself to do backflips and was teaching some of the other kids too."
The risk-taking didn’t limit itself to the snow, either.
"I’d be looking outside and he and his friends would come by with a ladder and I’d say, ‘What are you guys doing?’ and he’d say, ‘Oh, we’re going to jump off the deck and try to get two revolutions (on flips),’ and I’d say, ‘I don’t think so, not today,’" Carol Stevenson said. "But I think I’ve sort of grown into the sport with him."
Now Colby Stevenson is preparing to compete alongside some of his idols, hoping to give them all they can handle.
"Pretty much all professional skiers are my idols," he said. "But Tom Wallisch is a big one. He really knows how to get it done and I like how he effortlessly wins. He does tricks no one else does."
Stevenson, who frequents 3 Kings Park at Park City Mountain Resort every chance he gets, hopes to come up with some tricks to lead him to stardom.
"Right now I’m water ramping and tramping and learning tricks I don’t have on snow yet," he said. "But starting in November, I have a two-week training camp. I want to get all my base tricks down before then."
Stevenson has started a Rally Me account to try to raise some additional funds for the upcoming season. He’ll be skiing at more events farther away from Park City this season, pursuing his X Games and Olympic dreams.
"It’s definitely a big dream," he said. "It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get there, but I don’t think it’s too far out of reach from where I’m at now. I’m only 15 I’ve got a lot of time ahead of me. I don’t want to get ahead of myself."
To help support Stevenson and donate to his Rally Me account, visit http://www.rallyme.com/rallies/105 .
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Park City is the lone undefeated team in Region 10 play after a 60-30 win over Mountain View. The Miners have three more region games in their quest to repeat as region champions.