Tulalip snowboarders dream of Olympics

The First Nations Snowboard Team poses after competition.   - Courtesy photo
The First Nations Snowboard Team poses after competition.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Three years ago, Saundra Wagner and Javier Gonzalez were looking for an alternative to traditional sports to offer at the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club.

“I was a snowboarder and suggested that we try to organize a trip,” Wagner said.

While snowboarding’s entry costs are higher than other sports, Wagner and the club members got together some old clothing and gloves and raised enough money to rent equipment for one trip and lessons. The trip went over well and plans were made to expand the program the next year.

Organizers approached Big 5 and Joe’s Sporting Goods for discounted equipment and planned one trip per month throughout the winter.

This year, they took the program to another level. The team joined up with First Nations Snowboard Team, a Canadian group with the goal of training an aboriginal person to compete in snowboarding in the Olympics. The Tulalip boarders are the first American team to train with FNST in British Columbia. The team has become better connected in other ways too. They have connected with Stevens Pass, who helps subsidize the team. The Tulalip Tribes, the casino and Snohomish County Boys & Girls Club also support the team and athletes raise money at Boom City in the summer.

This season, the team trained at Big White, getting instruction from members of the Canadian Olympic team. The kids made 15 trips over the season to Cypress, Big White and Grouse in Canada, along with their host Stevens Pass.

Recently, the team returned from the RBC Bordercross competition in Vancouver. Eight athletes competed, placing in the top 14, while two brought home medals. Moses Williams took second place in the 15 and over category with a time of 27:37, while Trevor Fryberg placed third in the 10- to 11-year-old group in 31:04.

“Next season we will be competing a lot more. We just got our feet wet this season,” promised Wagner.

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