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Interview with Valentino Guseli: from Australia to the Laax Open

Text Riccardo Zanirato

Laax Open’s Photo Ruggli Stadler

Mountain Mash’s Photo Roby Bragotto

 

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In 2016, he placed fifth in the Burton U.S. Open’s Half Pipe Junion Jam in Vail, Colorado. Right away, he is described, “literally the future of snowboarding,” and he was only 9 years old. The gift of foreseeing what will be is reserved for few, but talent does not deceive and Valentino Guseli in recent years has had the opportunity to make that clear.

How are you? How was your first world cup in laax?
Hello, I’m great! It was incredible. I’ve been watching this event since I was 10 and always dreamed of riding in it. So stoked to ride in the Laax Open and put down the run that I did in semi’s.

 

Were you inspired by any new tricks during your time in Austria?

I was, while doing some double corks on jumps I had a think about how they would go in halfpipe for me. After a lot of thought, once I got to a halfpipe I had a lot of confidence to try some doubles because I knew I had the feeling of them from slopestyle.

 

You were born in Dalmeny, on the South Australian coast, how did you get into snowboarding?

I live in Dalmeny now, but I was actually born in Canberra and lived there for 10 years. My parents would take me to the snow starting when I was really young, maybe 3? I just fell in love with snowboarding. My dad was a big influence on my love of snowboarding.

 

You are only 15 years old, but you are already travelling a lot for competitions and training. Are you still a Perisher Park local? Or have you found your favourite resort around the world?

I’ll always be a perisher park local but I’ve definitely found other resorts around the world that I really like riding at! From Mt. Snow in Vermont, to Laax in Switzerland there are a lot of parks I’ve enjoyed riding over the years. It’s always fun to travel to a mountain and experience a new park and get to see what’s out there.

Your mum is a teacher and helps you with your studies when you are away from home, but how do you live the distance from your school and your friends?

Being away from home and friends is a sacrifice for sure. I make time every day to talk to my friends and family back home. It can be difficult with the time difference, but I’ve made it work. I don’t feel it’s terribly different than other people are doing during this pandemic to talk and be with loved ones digitally.

 

Surely life as an athlete requires sacrifices, which is the most challenging for you?

Being away from my family is the biggest sacrifice I feel I’m making right now. I talk to my family daily, but it’s not quite the same as being with them in the moment, getting a pat on the back, a hug goodnight, or just those little interactions you take for granted when you’re with your family.

 

Your grandfather built you a big air bag for training, how did the idea come about? Do you still train with it?

My grandparents missed me when I went away so They decided to make something I could snowboard on at home so I didn’t have to travel as much, therefore I could spend more time with them. When I’m at home I always use it, it’s super fun and a very good tool for training. I feel really fortunate my grandparents wanted to get involved the way they have. I get to spend more time with them while I do what I love.

“My grandparents missed me when I went away so They decided to make something I could snowboard on at home so I didn’t have to travel as much, therefore I could spend more time with them.”

How did your dedication to half pipe begin?

Perisher had had a pipe since I can remember, so I started riding that when I was really young. When I traveled to America, the focus on my riding was to not have a focus and ride everything. I used to race in slalom, giant slalom and bx and it was that base that allowed me to ride pipe will when I was a little kid. As I got older I was able to start going bigger, and to me, that’s what riding pipe is about. Going big with all your tricks.

 

How is your setup? Which boards do you ride with? How is the Burton’s board you use for Laax Open?

I ride a Burton Custom x 158 Camber with Genesis Bindings and Ion Boots, I love this setup because it allows me to go fast with control. It also allows me to make quick sharp turns when I need to. All around, I feel this is the best setup for my riding.

 

In two years time there will be the Winter Olympics, do you see it as a dream or a project?

I see this as a dream. What little kid watches the Olympics and doesn’t have a dream of competing? I feel fortunate to be able to pursue my dream with heaps of love and support from my family and friends back home, and my friends I make in my travels, and of course my sponsors.

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