Snowboarder leaves good news behind the blinking light |

Snowboarder leaves good news behind the blinking light

Special to the DailyJustin Goto-Reiter races last season in Snowbird, Utah. The 22-year-old Summit High School graduate was named to the U.S. Development Team this summer.

The red light blinked on her answering machine. Brenda Goto, having just returned from a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon, clicked the button.

“Mom. This is your son. I just made the U.S. Snowboard Team … “

Then, Brenda screamed into the empty house. She’d seen her son, Justin Goto-Reiter, crash and fall and win and race since he was eight years old. Even during the hours of skateboarding as a kid, Justin and his friends talked about one day reaching the U.S. Team. And his mom never doubted he would.

“He’s always been an old soul,” Brenda said. “I still have that message on my machine. I can play it for you, if you want.”

Justin, a 1999 graduate of Summit High School, was notified this summer that he was named to the U.S. Development Team, a smidgen away from the most elite snowboarders in the country.

He just finished his first training camp with the team in Mount Hood, Ore., and will compete in his first event at Copper when the snow starts to fall. While being named to the team is a major step for any snowboarder, it’s not quite all the 22-year-old wants.

“One goal is to make the team and the second is to make the Olympics and the third is to win a medal,” Justin said. “This is the first really large step I’ve taken. At the last Olympics, I really wanted to be there. It just wasn’t my time.”

However, Justin was invited to forerun in Salt Lake City. When his name appeared on the scoreboard under the 2002 Olympics banner, his mom freaked. She and another friend watched the crowd part like the red sea to allow them to be close. There, in lights, was the name of her son.

“My favorite time is when he pulls out of the gate,” she joked. “He’s not going real fast at this point. I get real nervous.”

Small head,

big shoulders

For an only child, Justin has his priorities in place. He’s living in Steamboat Springs this summer, working at a golf course to save money for the busy winter season.

For his 21st birthday, his mom took him out drinking. She drank the beer. He drank the soda.

While having a devoted family contributed to his motivation and dedication, being around foster kids as a child helped him the most his mom said.

His parents would have as many as four foster kids living for months at a time in the house.

At times, it got tough.

“He’d pull me in a room and tell me he felt like the foster child,” Brenda said. “But it was good. He saw how fortunate we were. He realized how lucky we were. He’s living in Summit County. He wasn’t (a foster child) on the way from Texas because his parents were arrested for drugs.”

The real mission begins

The year 2006 is stuck firmly in Justin and Brenda’s mind.

The years with Copper Mountain Snowboard Team and Team Summit are over. Next in sight are the Olympics and that podium.

“The tour is super tightly knit,” he said. “Knowledge. Experience. The younger guys look at the older guys for tips and techniques. The older guys look at the younger guys to find the love and the passion for the sport.”

It does take lots of money to travel the world on a snowboard.

Because the major expense is airline tickets, his mother has started collecting Kelloggs coupons that can be redeemed for frequent flyer miles.

Ryan Slabaugh can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 257, or at

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