The last two weeks were a flurry of competitions, school, homework, fun, disappointment, and a little bit of sleep. I had my first boardercross Rev Tour one week ago on Friday, and it went pretty okay. I went out to Ski Cooper Friday morning, and raced hard. The top 32 out of the 38 competitors were seeded into brackets, and I ran a pretty bad time trial, and ended up barely making the cut, qualifying 30th. I got eliminated in my first heat, which I was extremely downcast about, but it was fine for my first Rev Tour ever.
After Rev Tour, all that remained was USASA Nationals. I had both boardercross and slopestyle practice on Saturday, my slopestyle comp on Sunday, and boardercross on Monday. Saturday went pretty well with practice. I landed a couple tricks on the large line at Copper and got my start down on the boardercross course – I was all set to compete.
Sunday went pretty okay, around what I expected, although I think I could’ve gotten a few places higher. I didn’t land my first run, because I sent the second jump too big and overrotated my frontside 360 to a 540, almost landing but ultimately going down.
On my second run, I once again stomped the first jump, which I sent a backflip off of (although I did send the second one quite a bit bigger than the first time), and kinda-barely landed my 360 on the next jump, but hit the knuckle of the jump and lost all my speed. I proceeded to hit the last jump, but landed on the deck. I guess I can count my second run as landed, but it still only scored me a 24.5.
Anyways, slopestyle wasn’t my main focus to begin with, so I wasn’t that mad that I didn’t completely get my run. I was ready for boardercross the next day, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I placed 15th in time trials, meaning I got the second gate choice in my heat. My heat started out great, I was out in second place, in a good spot to qualify, edging out the two people behind me around the first and second turns. Around the third turn, I unfortunately got caught up in the slush and slid out. That kinda ruined my day, so yeah. How unfortunate. Only 340 more days until I get to try again!
Overall, this season went pretty well as a whole. I got a few new tricks, and began spinning the large line at Copper, which I thought wouldn’t happen till next season. Early season, I worked on my rails and actually didn’t do terribly at the New Years Eve Rail Jam at Copper, taking 8th/17. I placed third at my first slopestyle of the year at Copper, then won the next two at Keystone and Breck (although I don’t really count Breck as much because there wasn’t really much competition). Boardercross started out pretty terrible, but ended up ok. I lost my first two races, then took second at Copper on day 3. I had a ton of amazing races against some really talented racers, and that definitely helped in my progression. I even got to race Banked Slalom at Steamboat, which was one of my favorite weekends of the season. I’ll definitely be ready for next season, where I plan on competing in Rev Tour and the Hole Shot NorAm Tour. But for now, it’s track season, and time to run.
It’s been about two weeks since we got back from Christmas break, and it was definitely a much-needed rest, although we only did a little of that as we were snowboarding almost every day. But still, it was nice to have a break from the constant grind of school.
Over break, we had a photo shoot with Keystone Resort, competed in the annual New Years Eve Rail Jam at Copper, made cookies, shoveled a lot of snow that disappeared the day after, and recently, competed in the first Slopestyle competition of the season at Copper.
Semester 1 ended with lots of work, having 6 final exams in one week. It unfortunately did not get me the grades I needed to maintain a perfect GPA (4.23), so I ended up with just a 4.0 weighted GPA for this semester. Hopefully that won’t happen again.
After we got out of school, we went straight to snowboarding, and never left for the next week 😛 On Christmas, we went out as a family to snowboard at Beaver Creek before going out to a nice dinner. It was a great time, as we don’t get to snowboard all together often, even though Beaver Creek had basically no new snow.
Christmas was pretty great, but after it was over it was back to training. We all competed in the annual Copper Mtn New Years Eve Rail Jam, where I competed directly against Isaac for the first time in the 14+ age group. I had been training on rails for around a month, so I wouldn’t finish like I did at Howelsen Hill last year (10th/10). Isaac and I had a good time, and while he didn’t land the tricks he wanted to, we still had fun. I ended up 8th/17, which was about where I expected to be. Anyways, the tricks I threw will probably be the best tricks I will have done on rails this season, as I’m now training for boardercross.
Fast forward one week later to January 6th. The day before our slopestyle competition. We’d been training hard, and decided to take a fun day with the team before the comp. One of our coaches, Josh, made up a crazy fun game named by our friend Karis, called the Jimmy Points Challenge (completely random name). We’d go around Breckenridge Mountain completing challenges made up by Josh, each for certain amounts of points. Some were trick-based, such as landing a backflip or 540, and others were… people-based? Examples of that included high-fiving an entire family, getting someone to let you borrow their gloves, and even getting a pro to film you. Check out the video edit I made here, or visit my snowboarding YouTube Channel at GabeShreds.
On the day of the slopestyle competition, it had just dumped about a foot of snow, which made riding the jumps extremely slow. I was extremely happy and fortunate to still put down my run anyways (backflip, back 3, front 3), and almost put down my second run (backflip, back 3, front 5) if it wasn’t for the sketchy landing of the last jump. That put me into 3rd place, which meant I got my first Rocky Mountain Series podium. Isaac and Jadyn also put down their runs, which they were stoked about. Isaac finished 7th/21, and Jadyn took the silver with a 2nd place out of 8. Watch my first slopestyle run below:
After the slopestyle competition, school kinda took over again. Nothing interesting happened up until last Saturday, when Team Summit bought time on the boardercross course at Copper Mountain, which is being used for this weekend’s boardercross races. I got to race my friends on the team, and also got some valuable practice for this weekend. The day before, on Friday, I had a real boardercross day with my coach KB and the four Australians that are visiting to race with us. We flew down Keystone’s Go Devil run at speeds above 65 mph, which was immensely fun. On Sunday, it had snowed a ton overnight, so we took advantage of the soft snow and rode the powder. In the afternoon, I sent backflips off of the only two jumps open in the park, along with my friend Akos.
Now I’m gearing up for the boardercross races coming up this weekend. I’m about to get my race board prepped with a base grind, tune and wax. So far I have 6 people in my age group total, and I have the top seed, thanks to my 15th place finish at last Nationals. I definitely want to podium, and hope I can take the win one of the three days. Jadyn’s also competing, and she’s looking really good on the course so far. I’m racing with two of the Australians training with us, so there’s always a potential for a podium sweep.
Once again, I find myself at the end of the competition season. I competed in a total of 11 competitions this season, trying out slopestyle as a secondary event this year, and even one rail jam, because why not? I finished my last comps of the season at Crested Butte, with three boardercrosses. I ended up finishing top 3 all three days, and obtaining my first three USASA medals, which I was extremely excited about. I finished third on Friday and Saturday, and then improved to take the silver medal on Sunday. I raced against some really good competitors, and it was overall a great time. In this post, I’m going to go through each competition of mine from this season and write a bit about them all. Copper Slopestyle – January 8th
Best Run – 50/50, Backside 360, Front Shifty Roast Beef, Straight Air, 50/50
My original plan for the competition season was to wait until boardercross comps finished, then participate in one or two slopestyle events. That changed when, after I saw the fun that everyone had in the New Years Eve Rail Jam, I decided to scrap that plan and enter the first slope event of the season on January 8th. I kept my run pretty basic, throwing a backside 360 as my best trick. I ended up placing 11th out of 16, scoring a 39.3. It was a fun experience, trying something new and getting to perform a few of my tricks under pressure. Ultimately, it made me decide to do the rest of the Rocky Mountain Series slopestyle comps, and I don’t regret that in the slightest.
Copper Slopestyle – January 22nd
Best Run: 50/50, Frontside 360 Mute, Backside 360, Front Shifty Nose, 50/50 Front 180 out
Naturally, after the fun I had during the first slopestyle comp, I couldn’t just not do another. I decided to do the next slopestyle comp, and with all the practice I had put in, my trick list had grown, and I think that was evident in my performance. On my first run, I landed hard on my back, but I pulled myself together to put down a solid second run. I finished 9th out of 17, with an improved score of 44.3.
Ski Cooper BoarderX Weekend 1 – January 28/29th
After the second slope event, I began to prepare Ski Cooper Boardercross. I had just ordered a new Donek Saber (race board), but it didn’t arrive in time for the first comps. The first two competitions didn’t go very well – I took 9th out of 16 on both days, getting eliminated in the quarterfinals by taking third. Not much else happened besides that, and it wasn’t until the second weekend where things got more interesting for me.
Ski Cooper BoarderX Weekend 2 – February 4/5th
On the second weekend of racing, I was prepared. I had my Donek, I had a good wax, and I had run the course through many times previously. On the first day, I didn’t make it out of my first heat (the semifinals), and raced in the consolation final (video above), taking second in that race. Overall, I placed 6th/9. The next day, which was also the last day of racing at Ski Cooper, I successfully made it out of my heat to go to the finals, where I was in third for most of the race but fell on the last turn and took 4th out of 9 overall.
Howelsen Hill Rail Jam – February 18th
I laugh to myself when I think of participating in this one. Honestly, looking back, I wish I hadn’t competed, because I was totally unprepared for a Rail Jam. In the past weeks leading up to this comp, I probably spent 30 minutes on rails, total. I fell multiple times, and didn’t really have a noteworthy run. I’d say it was a good experience, but I don’t plan on doing any ever again, unless it’s next year’s New Years Eve Jam. For anyone who wants to know, I finished a solid 10th/10.
Keystone Slopestyle – February 25th
Best Run: 50/50, Straight Air, Frontside 360 Mute, Backside 360, Front 180
Now, this one was a fun comp. I decided to do the last Rocky Mountain Series slopestyle, and I’m so glad I did. I’d had practice on Keystone’s jumps, and I put down a solid first run, and was in fifth after the first run. I decided to go for it on my second run, attempting to go front lipslide, frontside 540, half cab, backside 360, with a frontside 540 on the quarterpipe. I’d never spun on the first jump before, but I decided since it was my last slopestyle, why not just go for it? I ended up overrotating the 540 to almost 720, and slipping out. Overall, it was an awesome comp to participate in, but not landing my second run put me in 10th overall. If I had to do it over again, however, I’d still attempt that same second run, because if doing what I usually do isn’t going to get me near the top 5, why not risk something that could?
Crested Butte BoarderX – March 3/4/5th
Now, these final competitions really made me feel like all my boardercross work throughout the season payed off. I raced hard, and obtained medals on all three days. On the first day, I had 6 people in my age group, and I qualified out of my first heat to the finals, where I took third. The next day, I again took third (out of 7), with the day going pretty much the exact same as the previous. The final day, after my parents had left and I was staying with my friend Matthew (who was also competing with me), I made finals once again, but this time finishing second, taking the silver medal. The course was pretty intense, but it was nice to have a harder course to race on, as opposed to Ski Cooper where it was basically the first to the end of the start won the race.
Thanks for reading/watching this post! I hope you enjoyed my reflections on my competitions, and as always, you can check out all my competition videos as well as some other of my snowboarding videos on my alternate YouTube Channel, GabeShreds.
Nationals begins in less than a week, and I’m super stoked for it!
Though many people may disagree, I considered 2016 to be a good year. It had its ups and downs, and I really got to reflect on that over this winter break. Spinning 360’s off of 50-foot jumps, speeding down a snow-covered mountain on a board at speeds topping the speed limit in most areas, and studying all day long with endless mountains of homework can really make a person forget about the best moments of the past, and in this post I wanted to relieve those moments.
2016 started with a bang. Full on in snowboard season, we were blasting jumps and racing boardercross with the intention of qualifying for nationals. So many things happened, and I’m going to just list the biggest events and things that happened to me in 2016, trying my best to keep chronological order from the beginning of the year till now.
Debate – Joining the speech and debate team at Summit Middle School in January 2016 was a very interesting experience. I got the chance to experience firsthand how debate works, arguing back and forth on points from a topic chosen by a speech and debate association. I had some good debating and especially speaking skills, but I just wasn’t into the whole “arguing over something I don’t care about” thing. It was a generally positive experience, to sum it all up in an extremely generalized statement. My debate partner was good, so that definitely contributed to the experience, and the fact that it was something new really helped me to want to try more things in the future.
First competitions – I started my competition season in late January, competing against some of the toughest competition in the US at Ski Cooper. The course was sketchy and poorly made, but racing is racing, and that’s all that matters to me. My love for the event was spurred by these first events, and my desire to place higher kept growing. My ranking, however, didn’t follow suit. Taking second to last in almost all four comps, I realized that my chance at qualifying for nationals was slim. I decided to take a trip to Crested Butte in the neighboring Southwest Colorado Series in order to place higher in contest, giving me more points to qualify. Unfortunately, I didn’t count on competitors from our Rocky Mountain Series to also have the same idea. I ended up placing decently, and on the last day, barely missing the top 2 spots to qualify for the finals, I raced what was probably the best race of my life (so far…) in the consolation final (to determine 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th), and aggressively passed all the competitors to take the win and rank 5th that day. As a result of my placing, I qualified for the 2016 USASA National Championships, placing 94th in the country to get an invite.
National Championships – Seeing my name pop up on the list as qualified for the National Championships just made my day, week, month and year. I knew that when I qualified, our time, effort and money weren’t for nothing. I mean, how cool is it to tell someone that you competed for the title of National Champion, even if you didn’t place that well? Nationals was a crazy fun time, and I ended up placing 42nd out of 74, which was decent for my first time. Watching the nation’s best amateur competitors duel it out in 6 events, each competing for the top spot, was just amazing. I enjoyed the entire experience, and I hope to qualify again this year. It’s only 3 months away…
Track – I almost forgot to include my experience participating in my favorite sport! Last spring, I ran track for Summit Middle School in what was my second season doing track and field, and it went pretty well. I made some new friends, including my friend Calvin, who basically dominated track and field the whole season. I broke my PR in the 100m dash by nearly a second, running 12.46 at the championship meet at the end of the season, which was great. The season started off with a few mini-meets, where there were only a couple events and was a great intro to the real season. My first “real” meet, I ran the 200m, High Jump, Discus and 4×100. I placed second in the 200m, narrowly getting beat out in the last 40 meters. High Jump went well, placing second once again, and clearing 4’10”, which I thought to be a good start to the season. I’d never tried discus before, and ended up only throwing 75′, which was pretty mediocre seeing as I threw over 90′ in practice, taking 5th place. In the 4×100, I believe we took second or third, but I’m not sure… (it was a while ago!). The rest of the season went relatively well, with me placing top 5 in every meet.
At the end of the season, I decided to run the 100m dash, the 200m dash, the 4×100 and the High Jump. Actually, let’s not talk about high jump. I basically fell victim to pressure after tripping at the 100m finish line before the event started and hurting my leg, and couldn’t overcome the pain, much to my disappointment and embarrassment, and only cleared 4’6″. I gave it my all in the 100m and 200m, and qualified for finals, running a 12.8 in the 100m qualifiers and a 26.4 in the 200m qualifiers, qualifying 5th in the 100m and 6th in the 200m (Top 8 times qualified). On the second day of the meet, I ran 12.46 in the 100m dash to take 6th out of 8, which was disappointing but still good for me considering I ran my fastest time ever, and 26.9 in the 200m to take 5th out of 8. Overall, the season went well, and I can’t wait till this season so I can see how I place ranked up against other high schoolers. Here’s a video of me clearing 4’10” at my first meet of the season:
Summer Travels – Travelling around the country again this past summer just felt…. relieving. It was an action-packed, fun-filled, and exciting experience, seeing many new places and revisiting old ones. Starting off in Ouray, CO, we hiked to many places, saw endless beautiful waterfalls and played tons of frisbee in the park. Traveling to Sedona, AZ, we ran, hiked, and drove our way around Petrified Forest National Park, seeing the deep valleys and amazing sunsets. After arriving in Sedona, although I didn’t initially realize it, life somehow seemed to become two times better than before. It just kept getting better and better. First, we arrived at a house that I wouldn’t mind living in for a while, with an amazing location, tons of space, and most importantly, my own room. The day after, we entered a Nike Tennis Camp at Enchantment Resort, where we greatly improved our tennis game thanks to our amazing coaches. Even after the tennis camp had ended, we continued to play every night at lighted outdoor tennis courts near our house. Then, in what possibly was my luckiest find of the summer, I discovered a high school with an open high jump pit. I probably went there 3 times a week, repeatedly jumping over the bar until at last I injured my leg (Still not sure what I did, but I could barely walk for a few days and the pain stayed for another few months), but not before I cleared a new PR of 5’2″ (twice!).
While visiting Sedona, we took a trip to the YoYoFactory Headquarters, and met the co-owner and various employees of the company. It was insane how many YoYos there were at the HQ. Everywhere we looked, there were YoYos. On the floor, all over the building, hung up on walls, placed in glass cases, and sitting on desks. It was an overall unique experience, and I was glad to meet everyone.
After leaving Sedona, we travelled to Las Vegas, where we gambled took Dad out for a birthday dinner and saw many artificially created wonders of the city. To sum it all up, we created a video slideshow of all our travels over the summer, and you can see it below.
The Narrows – After leaving Vegas, we weren’t done yet. Before we returned to Colorado, we had one last big adventure, and that was trekking 10 miles in the water through The Narrows in Zion National Park. This was a big hike, and I don’t think I’ll ever do another one like it. Rather than narrate our entire hike, I put together a video a while ago from the footage I took on my GoPro while hiking. You can view it on our Freejourners YouTube Channel, or through this link.
Returning to Colorado – Finished with our summer adventures, we headed back to Summit County, CO, where we moved from house to house while we waited for our main house that we’re currently living in to be ready. Isaac and I would go down the street to YoYoLoco to perform and work, teaching kids how to YoYo and getting friends into it. As I still worked for LaTiendaDelYoYo at that time, I would translate some stuff for them and in return periodically receive $300 in YoYos every month. I got some pretty cool YoYos, but nothing can last forever, and last month I stopped working for them. It was an amazing job, getting all those YoYos from Spain, learning more Spanish, and all for only a few hours of work per week. Continuing on our exercise spree that really kicked off this summer, I ran three times a week with Mom and Dad, running on various trails around the area, and around the town of Breckenridge. Below is a video of Isaac performing outside YoYoLoco in September, which gathered quite a crowd of people.
Entering School – Back in Sedona, I had a talk with my parents about my education, and the result was that I agreed to attend Summit High School back in Breckenridge, so I could experience not just high school, but public school in general, and agreed that it would be the best strategical move for my education, at least for this school year. When we returned to Summit County, after break had ended, my life completely changed, at least comparatively to the past 3 years. The first few days were a bit of a struggle, with me waking up at times that I’d never woken up at in my life, at least not consistently. I pushed myself through the first quarter of the school year with decent grades and (hopefully) a good reputation. The first semester just came to a close, and the final days before, well, finals, were a bit… hectic. I stayed up past midnight on multiple occasions, studying for a single class, and then not studying at all for another. I just received my grades back, and I discovered I finished the semester with 5 4.0’s (equivalent to an A+ in letter grades) and 2 3.5’s (equivalent to a A/A- in letter grades), and since my AP Computer Science class is weighted, and all 3.5’s round to 4’s, I finished with a GPA above a 4.0.
Making the soccer team – In an unexpected plot twist occurring in my life, I made the decision to try out for the school soccer team, and made the team with only a single hour of practice before tryouts. I hadn’t played since fall 2015 (in Nashville), and I hadn’t played competitively since fall 2014 (in Austin). You could say I was a bit rusty. When I finished the fall 2014 season, I honestly thought that would be where my soccer life ended, having played around 8 years of soccer. Nashville was kind of a bonus thing for me, where I was the only decently good player on the team (well, there were two others, but they were injured and for most of the season seemed to only play at 60% of their potential) and scored 6 goals a game. So, you can imagine, making a high school JV soccer team with having not progressed my skills in two years was a bit of a surprise to me. The season started out slow, with me only getting a few minutes of playing time per game, but sped up in the sense that I got more playing time later in the season, and I ended up playing around 90% of the game for the last few games. I never scored, but if I decide to try out again next year, I plan on changing that.
Snowboarding Season – Getting back on the mountain was a pleasant experience, and it helped take my mind off school for at least a few hours per day and relax (well, as relaxed as you can be while spinning off 30+ foot jumps and speeding down the mountain at speeds topping local speed limits). Uncle Mike and Grandma and Grandpa Cortez came into town to see us and that added some excitement to my stereotypical days at school. I enjoyed seeing Uncle Mike and shredding the slopes with him once again, and it’s always an amazing time when Grandma and Grandpa are here. On the mountain, I’ve already progressed so much, further supporting my belief that this year is my “big year” where I can finally take off in competition, place high in races, and take my tricks to bigger rotations and off bigger jumps.
Finishing off the year with a bang, Isaac and Jadyn competed in the New Years Eve rail jam, which was basically a big party. Loud music, fireworks, food and friends all came together to create a truly memorable experience.
Overall (I need a replacement word for this…. I use it way too much), 2016 was a memorable year (well, every year is memorable to me in some way, as I’ve only had 15 of them…), with many new experiences, traveling to new places, acquiring new skills, and many fun-filled days. I’ll look back on 2016 and see a year filled with growth, learning, fun, and traveling. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for always being the adventurous parents you are and exposing us to so many unique places. I really appreciate it.