The Outsider: Torstein Horgmo sighting at Woodward Copper summer snow park
“Dude,” the young snowboarder said to his buddy in a hushed voice. “That’s Horgmo.”
The two kept talking in muted tones, despite the fact they were standing on several million tons of dampening snow in the middle of a dry ski run high, high on Copper Mountain. There was no one around to hear them whisper, including Torstein Horgmo, the Norwegian pro snowboarder they were ogling.
“Dude, I know,” his friend said and reached a gloved hand in Horgmo’s direction, like a mime reaching for rope, or a teen fangirl grasping for Justin Bieber. “He’s so close, but so far.”
It’s funny how pro snowboarders have that effect on kids (and adults) around these parts, even in the middle of summer, when the only riding to be had is on a massive block of snow-farmed terrain at the Woodward Copper summer snowboard park. The two young riders were buckling in at the top of the park, surrounded on all sides by beach chairs and dry grass and lawn flamingos, when their 29-year-old hero rode by with a group of friends and fellow pros. The group dropped into the middle jib line and just about everyone stopped what they were doing for a glimpse of the six-time X Games medalist doing his thing, live and in person.
These days, Horgmo is one of the biggest names in pro snowboarding, thanks in large part to those X Games wins and a slew of firsts: first triple cork, first switch backside triple cork 1440, first back-to-back perfect scores at the X Games snowboard big air. He’s a legend before his third decade, and for good reason.
But, like most pro snowboarders — all except Shaun White and maybe Travis Rice — when Horgmo isn’t on the snow he’s just another average Joe, at least to most people. He isn’t Payton Manning, he isn’t Lance Armstrong — he’s just an incredibly talented athlete in a sport that barely earns coverage on ESPN, despite the fact that channel invented the X Games.
For me, that makes the boys’ chance encounter with their hero even cooler. Sure, Horgmo felt ever-so-close yet ever-so-far, but, for at least one morning, they got to ride the same snow and same features as their hero. They got to watch him do what he does best for free (somewhat), with no cameras or bodyguards or press agents. They got to see one of their sport’s best, in his prime on mid-July snow.
Boys, Horgmo is closer than you think. Keep riding — you just might shake his hand (or pop a bottle of champagne) after winning a medal of your own.
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