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.
Well, it’s Monday, and more specifically, the Monday after the first two boardercross races. It went… not as planned. I never made it out of a heat, and took 9th out of 16 on both days. On both days of racing, my heats were the exact same. The first day, I discovered that since I had the sixth seed (because I went to last year’s Nationals, I was ranked sixth at the start of the day), I got second gate choice in my heat, which was pretty cool. I also discovered that my friend Benny was racing against me in what was his very first competition ever, and he did well (even though he got last). The entire race, I was literally battling for second place against a guy I had met before the race named Lachlan, from New Zealand. He initially took the lead against me, but I passed him around the second corner. By the time we were around the third corner, he had caught up and we were basically holding onto each other while maneuvering the tight turns in an attempt to stay on our feet. On the sixth turn, we both slipped out and fell, but he got up faster and won the race against me, which was extremely disappointing. You can view the video of our start and the first turn below (I’m the one in the blue).
The first day went well for Isaac and Jadyn, with Jadyn taking the bronze medal, and Isaac beating out our friend JR to take second and make it out of the quarterfinals into semis. He lost in the semifinal, but due to an extremely weird complication where a rider raced in the semifinal where he shouldn’t have been (and that resulted in our friend Bodie not qualifying for the finals after he had qualified before), the race was re-run, but nothing changed, and he still got last. In the consolation final, the other two riders had left, so it was a 1-on-1 race between Bodie and Isaac, where Isaac lost (it was a really exciting race to watch, though). Overall, Isaac took 6th place out of 15.
The second day, I got my race board, which I had got in the mail the day before, set up and ready to go, albeit without ANY wax on it, and raced on that. The day went noticeably worse for me, taking the same placing again, but losing the race to Lachlan by a lot farther this time. Isaac didn’t make it out of his first heat and took 11th, but on two high notes, Jadyn and Bodie both took second place and got the silver medal.
Overall, it was a fun time, getting back into the swing of racing and prepared for next week’s races, in which I am sure I’ll be prepared and ready to go. My goal is to make it into the finals of a competition, and I’m going to keep racing until I do.
“What is the gnar?”, you may ask, skeptically. Well, I’m glad you asked, personified figment of my imagination whose only purpose is to serve as an intro to this blog post. After writing that “Reflections on 2016” blog post, I was pretty much done with writing for a while, but now, I figured I have something to write about, so why not write about it?
Anyways, back to the question. What is ‘the gnar’? Gnar, in literal terms, can be used both as an adjective and a noun (ex. “That was gnar!”, or “We totally shredded the gnar!”), and means, in very vague terms (the noun version), the surface on which you shred, usually on a snowboard, skis, or a skateboard (in this case, I use it to describe what I’ve been doing recently). The adjective form of gnar, exemplified by the example above, can be roughly translated to mean awesome, cool, or totally radical, but I don’t use that form much.
But how have I been shredding the gnar? In many ways, believe me. Last week, I competed in what was my first slopestyle competition, which was an exhilarating experience. I was extremely nervous coming up to the practice start, preparing to start attempting to land tricks that I would put in my actual runs, and watching all the other competitors in my age group throw their tricks. I tried to block out everyone else and just focus on myself, which was a bit hard due to there being tons and tons of people around me, each trying to nail their respective runs.
In practice, I landed some backside 360’s, hit my grabs that I planned to throw in the comp, and landed an awesome run (frontside 540 to cab 180 to tweaked out nose grab) that didn’t end up getting put into my run because I hadn’t mastered my front 540’s well enough to attempt in competition. My actual competition run consisted of a 50/50 (which is the most basic trick possible on a rail) to backside 360 on the first jump, followed by a front-shifty Roast Beef grab on the second jump to a nose grab on the third jump, finished with a mediocre backside boardslide on the last rail. The first run went pretty bad, because I took too many speed checks and hit the knuckle of the first jump, slowing me down drastically for the rest of the jumps, but the second run (in my opinion) improved greatly, bringing up my score 5 points from a 34.3 to a 39.3, which put me in 11th place. I wasn’t extremely happy with the result, especially since I was in 6th after the first run, but then got bumped down because all the amazing riders that fell on their first run, putting me ahead of them, landed their second runs. Here’s a video of my first run:
Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the season. We built a jump into some soft snow (although it was hard to land anything off of it), and threw backflips off of it! To top it all off, the run down from the spot we were flipping at was the perfect place to race, and I raced several of my teammates many times. I was the only one to have actually landed a backflip (albeit after I had crashed several times), and I now feel ready to take it back to the park and try it off some bigger jumps. I was fortunate enough to have my coach Kirsten there to take a video of me, so thanks a ton for that! Here it is, and as always, you can view more videos on my snowboarding YouTube Channel, on which I don’t usually post much, it’s more of a storage spot for my videos that I want to share out.
So that was just a quick recap of the most important and fun days from the past week, and I should probably be getting back to doing homework. I have another slopestyle coming up, and Ski Cooper boardercross is less than two weeks away! These next three weeks are sure to be jam-packed with tons of action, so I’ll be ready to record some video and write some more!
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.
Well, the winter season has started! Sort of…. There’s still not much snow, but as of recently we’ve been starting to get hit by a few storms, leaving up to a foot of snow on the ground. Isaac and Jadyn had the chance to ride the first Gondola up the mountain at Keystone a few weeks ago, thanks to our friends the Tyler’s, who invited them. I’ve been boarding for 5 days so far, and it’s been great. I’m starting to lay out my plans for the season, such as planning my competitions, what tricks to learn this year, how I’m going to (hopefully) podium at some competitions, and how much I want to push myself.
Even though not many runs are open, Copper Mountain still has a small park open, which I’ve been riding at a ton. Although we’ve only been boarding for a little less than a week, it seems like we just picked up where we left off last season in terms of skill, and Isaac and I have both learned many new tricks on the rails that Copper has available in their park.
Right now, I’m looking at the past 3 seasons of snowboarding as preparation for this one. This, at least I’m hoping so, will be my “big year” in terms of competition and learning. Our first season (The 13/14 season), was when we learned how to get down the mountain, carve, get comfortable with a bit of speed, and hit a few small boxes and jumps. Our second season (14/15), our first on Team Summit, helped jump-start our snowboarding. We learned how to ride switch, spin off of some small jumps, hit bigger jumps and started to slide rails, overall getting more comfortable in the park. We got an intro to competing, with Jadyn winning multiple competitions, and ultimately qualifying for the 2015 USASA Championships in boardercross, and placing 7th. As for Isaac and I, while we didn’t get the results that Jadyn achieved, we did start competing with a few boardercross races towards the end of the year (I didn’t place well, as I didn’t really know what I was doing :P).
Now, last season was a big season for us, setting us up for this year. We learned how to spin 180’s, 360’s, and even one or two 540’s off bigger jumps. It was a big competition season, where I competed in 7 boardercross races at Ski Cooper and Crested Butte, taking better placings, learning how to race, how to maintain speed around turns, how to generate more speed, how to pass competitors, and how to fight off competitors trying to pass. My final boardercross competition, at Crested Butte, went relatively well, as I barely missed qualifying for the finals, but won the consolation final, taking 5th place overall. Because of that final race, I ended up qualifying for the 2016 USASA National Championships in boardercross, where I took 42nd out of 74. To end off the season, I even landed my first backflip!
Who knows what this season has in store for me? A gold medal? Top 20 at Nationals? Spinning a 720? Tons of backflips? Well, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see! In the meantime, here’s a video of me on my second day back on the mountain:
Before I finish off this entry into my ever-expanding collection of blog posts about various parts of my life, I wanted to outline my goals for this season, so I can look at them throughout.
Top 20 at the 2017 National Championships
A medal or two
Win a race
720’s (Backside and Frontside)
Master backside 540’s
Switch backside 360’s
270 onto rails
Master frontside boardslides
And that’s it (for now, at least)! If you want to see videos of Isaac, Jadyn and me snowboarding, check out my snowboarding YouTube Channel, which I plan to start posting on more (last season I just put videos of our boardercross races on there, not really using it for anything). Visit it here, or search for GabeShreds on YouTube.
We did a lot of park runs with our Snow skates, and I went off a few boxes, and some jumps (not that I got any air off of them…), and it was really fun.
On Sunday, we went to Breckenridge, and I got to practice my 540’s, never fully landing one perfectly, but I was really close.
That’s basically my only goal before the end of season, which actually, sadly, is really close. Keystone and Beaver Creek close this Sunday, so we’ll probably get some riding in before then. Breck, Vail, Copper and the others close next week. And Arapahoe Basin should be open till we leave.
We have our last Team Summit weekend this week, which is sad. I think we’ve still had an AMAZING snowboard season overall, and I look forward to coming back next year.
So, as I said in my last post, we’ve been snowboarding with Team Summit, where they teach you how to snowboard better, teaching us all kinds of stuff with being able to ride Park, Trees, Cliff Drops, etc. I have some pictures and videos of us doing stuff.
Dad got this awesome picture of me going off a jump:
Here’s Isaac going off an even bigger jump:
A pic of the Superpipe we went on:
Here’s Isaac going off some big jumps, but failing the second: