Life on the Summit: Hey, Spike! finds American riding for Brazil
October 24, 2014
Did you hear about the newspaper columnist who walked into Prost, the German beer hall in Frisco, to meet a female American snowboarder on the Brazilian team?
Now you have.
Wesley Huntington is back on The Summit and is a member of the "Time Brasileiro de Snowboard," aka Brazil Snowboard Team.
Just a few weeks shy of 28, Wesley was born in Tampa, and lived in Wesley Chapel, Fla. She's the daughter of Jim and Tracey Huntington. Her father, who is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, moved to New York as a kid. Her parents met in Florida.
"We moved to Ohio, where my mom was from, in 1990 so that my parents could work for the 'family businesses,' which were the ski resorts of Boston Mills and Brandywine. My grandparents owned and operated two of the five ski areas in Ohio," she says of her early intro to snowsports. "I grew up skiing, then snowboarding in Ohio at the family's ski areas every day. I am from Akron and went to high school at St. Vincent-St. Mary with LeBron James."
"I moved back to Summit in February, and am currently in the process of buying a condo in Dillon," she says.
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Wesley's Colorado connection came when she moved to Boulder after high school in 2005 and started at CU.
"I took off spring semesters and moved to the county each winter and did summer semester instead," she notes. "This helped save my grades, and fed my snowboarding habit."
A slopestyle boarder, Wesley says, "I rode every day, and did smaller competitions around the county and Colorado. I moved to Summit permanently as soon as I graduated in 2009 from CU with a bachelor's degree in geography and sociology. I have never lived in Frisco (just work there), only back and forth and around the county between Dillon and Breck."
In high school Wesley rode on the USASA Circuit, traveling to all of the national events.
"Once I moved to Colorado and was attending school, I kept competing in USASA events, various rail jams and usually the Aspen Open each year," she says. "My last competition before my recent return at the South American Continental Cup in Antillanca, Chile (second place), was the New Zealand Open in 2009 at Cardrona."
Most of her results were middle of the pack, she admits, explaining:
"I have never had coaching, and suffered from competition anxiety. I feel like the anxiety days are behind me and I am mentally stronger after my hiatus from snowboarding … I felt really great competing in South America last month, mentally and physically, and put out results I was really happy with, especially after two seasons of not snowboarding."
Locally, she's training and working out at Crossfit Low Oxygen with Jeremy Strawn, whose coaching she credits for her physical and mental competition preparation.
It is her job at Scott Pohlman's Prost where a serendipitous exchange put her in touch with the Brazilians.
"On one of my first shifts at Prost, a Friday night, shortly after the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, I had two guys come in and sit at the bar for our Moscow Mule Happy Hour special, and overheard them talking about coaching the Brazilian team in Sochi. I kindly interrupted and asked about what they were talking about since I had recently applied for my citizenship and Brazilian passport and was curious about this Brazilian Snowboard Team that I had never heard of."
Those guys at the bar were Kep Koeppe, a coach for one of the Brazilian adaptive athletes for the Paralympics, and Dan Gale, his boss. Dan is the director of Adaptive Action Sports in Copper Mountain, which was contracted by the CBDN (Confederaçao Brasileira de Desportos na Neve — Brazilian Snowsports Federation) to coach and train their adaptive athletes for the 2014 Olympics.
Wesley picks up the story here:
"It was literally three days before I met these two gentleman that I had received my Brazilian passport in the mail from the consulate and planned a trip to Brazil to see my brother Jimmy and his fiancée, Claudia.
"I exchanged information with Kep and Dan, started riding with them, and had them write an email or two to the CBDN to put me in contact, where I then set up a meeting with them in São Paulo, while I would be on my trip. I had the meeting and then a tryout the next day at their new training facility in São Roque, where they have dryland ski jumps and airbags."
Wesley will compete in the Revolution tours and World Championships this season, as well as USASA events.
"It has been five years since I was competing regularly, so I want to compete in anything that I can to get back on my feet and used to the competition circuit again," she explains.
Her next "real" planned competition with the CBDN is the January 2015 World Snowboard Championships in Austria.
Wesley trains "all over Summit County. Breck is my favorite park. I would like to get the Copper pass for the first time in years and switch up my park riding to different areas constantly throughout the season. I am currently shopping for a coach and/or club to ride with for the season."
She's without sponsors or funding and hopes to get some competition results on the board to change that.
Wesley is well aware of being on a team — especially a foreign one — and is fast to acknowledge her teammates:
Other slopestyle and snowboardcross members are: Marcos Batista, Raquel Iendric, Isabel Clark, Isis Dassow, Rafael Renno, Lucas Resende, Lucas Alves and Nathali Oliane. The coaches are Ivan Fuenzalida and Carlos Eduardo Barros de Almeida, aka "Dinho."
Another challenge for Wesley comes in that Brazilians speak Portuguese, a tough language to master, but she's up to it.
"I am learning and studying; I can understand quite a bit. I try to read a news article, or something of the sort, in Portuguese daily. I plan to move to Brazil next summer (southern winter) to learn and become fluent, as well as train in São Roque, and travel to Chile/Argentina for competitions and on-snow training," she says.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed "Spike," a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org
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