Sage Kotsenburg wants to keep things fun
That’s the big question facing Olympic gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg this winter.
After winning the first-ever slopestyle snowboarding Olympic gold medal in Sochi, Russia, in February, Kotsenburg is gearing up for another season of competitions and crazy tricks.
But with no gold medal on the line, what will drive the 21-year-old Parkite to succeed?
"I’ve thought about that a lot, actually," he said. "What’s my motivation now that I’ve gotten something that I’ve wanted since I was a kid? What’s next?"
The answer? Going back to his roots.
Kotsenburg showed the world how different and fun slopestyle can be with his gold-medal-winning run, featuring a 1620 Japan Air Mute Grab, a trick he had never landed in competition prior to the Olympics.
"Obviously I wanted to win, but it wasn’t just about winning," he said of his final run in Sochi. "It was about portraying snowboarding the way I wanted to see it in a competition. Whether you liked it or not, that’s how I wanted to do it."
Look for a lot of that same artistry and creativity from Kotsenburg on the slopes this season, too. He said he wants to keep slopestyle from becoming too stale.
"The whole main reason for last year, when I was super over contests, is I just kind of said, ‘Screw it. I’m going to do what I want to do,’" he said. "A lot of other riders aren’t doing any new tricks, really it’s just the same old thing."
But, Kotsenburg counters, slopestyle should be about freedom. With so many features on the course and so many tricks in a rider’s repertoire, no two runs should ever be the same.
"You can do anything you want," he said. "You still have to spin a lot I realize that but you can add things here and there and it makes your run so different and so much more fun to watch."
Case in point Kotsenburg’s subtle hand drag coming off one of the rails in the top portion of the Sochi course. He said he wants to see more of that in competitions, and he has faith in the younger generation to provide the excitement he wants.
"I know a lot of the young kids are starting to do it," he said. "I think that’s rad. The next generation coming up is fully on board with it."
Speaking of that next generation of snowboarders, Kotsenburg said it’s been an honor to be an inspirational figure for so many young riders.
"It’s really cool that you can make a lot of people happy and make a lot of kids inspired, too," he said. "I always looked up to people whether it was a snowboarder or a basketball player or whatever. When you start meeting kids that look up to you, it’s so weird to have that. It was just a couple years ago that I was the kid fanning out on people. I still do fan out around people, but it’s weird to have people come up to you and say, ‘You’re my inspiration. I started snowboarding because of you.’
"That’s crazy, but it’s really rad, though. To have that influence on people, it means a lot."
With all the fame that’s come with being an Olympic gold medalist, Kotsenburg said the biggest lesson he’s learned is to always take the time to brighten someone’s day.
"It’s really easy to just be nice to everyone," he said. "That’s one thing I’ve learned is just to put a smile on my face and make other people happy. If you have a smile on your face and you’re nice and it’s genuine, it’s really easy to stay modest and stay humble."
When it comes to being nice to people, Kotsenburg’s fans will appreciate his plan for sharing his biggest tricks this winter.
"I really want to get into films," he said. "We’ve got a project going right now that’s a full film series. We’re going to have a mini-movie and a lot of webisodes. It’s going to be very social-media-based a lot of Facebook and Instagram.
"Nothing’s going to be on DVD or iTunes or anything like that. If I go out in Iceland and get a trick or something, you’ll probably see it on Instagram three days later, whereas usually you’d hold one trick for eight months and put it in a video. Through all the followers I got from the Olympics, we’ll throw snowboarding to the masses. We’ll see I think it’s really cool. That’s what I’m really stoked on."
Whether he’s riding in a competition or riding in front of a film crew, Kotsenburg said it doesn’t matter why he’s on his snowboard he just wants to keep riding.
"Snowboarding gives me joy and it’s so much deeper than winning a competition," he said. "If you told me I couldn’t compete for the rest of my life, yeah, I’d be kind of bummed, but at least I could still snowboard. Don’t take snowboarding away from me."
To see all of Kotsenburg’s newest tricks and behind-the-scenes photos from competitions, follow him on Instagram at @sagekotsenburg and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SageKotsenburg .
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