It has been noted, and become evident, that some of the best snowboarders in the world aren’t even old enough to vote. So why is it that teenagers are so good at snowboarding, and where are all these young athletic prodigies coming from?
Experience has its place in the sport, but the risks are taken by younger athletes, which is putting them ahead of their older, more professional competitors and counterparts. Some of the best up and coming athletes in the world of snowboarding are actually as young as 13. These athletes are often used to controlled environments, and therefore will have to be weaned onto the Olympic scene, because of the power, politics and other factors associated with these events. For example, a 13-year-old’s weight is not enough to ensure that, in windy conditions, with massive jumps, they do not get injured, or their performance ruined.
Where precisely does one go to find a 13-year-old snowboarding prodigy? Well, scouts and professionals are taking their hunt away from the slopes and into the gym. That’s right, gymnastics clubs are the new place to scout snowboarders. It may seem strange, but these clubs are where kids are. This is for many reasons. Firstly, not every family has the funds to invest in the expensive sport of snowboarding, and stick to more affordable, or realistic, activities. Also, these gymnasts develop the core leg and upper body strength, as well as flexibility, to be successful on the slopes.
Not only are scouts finding their prospects at the gym, but some trainers and coaches are even sending their experienced athletes there, to train in the offseason and develop their skills, flexibility and strength.
So snowboarding is not just for athletes, for professionals or for those who have trained their whole lives anymore; the sport is becoming younger and younger, and risk-taking is prioritised over experience in this day and age.