Alumni Chase Josey Headed to Pyeongchang

SVSEF alumni Chase Josey is on his way to Pyeongchang as a member of the U.S. Olympic team. As a top contender amongst the greats of U.S. halfpipe snowboarding, Chase secured his spot to South Korea as the fourth and final male athlete, following his performance at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth on January 20. In the final Olympic selection event, he shot to the top of the field with a first-run score of 94.50 – a lead that persisted through the next two runs, securing the win.
When you meet Chase, you can better wrap your head around how the Wood River Valley native handled the pressure that loomed at Mammoth, with such high stakes at hand. Today, surrounded by eager fledgling skiers and snowboarders at Rotarun Ski Area, who are gearing up for an afternoon of SVSEF Rota-Rippers training, Chase’s demeanor is calm and pleasant. His unassuming smile gives you a little jab of a reminder – that you should, perhaps, try to be a bit more present. Because that’s what he seems to be doing – observing and appreciating the happiness that is so prevalent here at Rotarun, and that comes with making turns for the first, second, third time.

Chase echoes this in his sentiments about what one can take away from being a part of SVSEF. “You really gain a lifestyle for winter sports being a part of the program. You train for it, you live for it, you grow a passion for whatever discipline you’re in. For these kids, I’d say, try to have as much fun as you can, and learn to ride with your friends and look up to your coaches. They’re only really trying to help you enjoy this lifestyle that’s been presented to you. It’s not supposed to be stressful; if it is, take a step back and try to figure out how you can enjoy it. It’s meant to be a passion and a lifestyle.”
This is a mentality that Chase has done well by – he’s stayed passionate about the sport and has managed to live a life centered around it. He was on skis when he was two, and he started snowboarding when he was five. Chase had heard about SVSEF, ended up riding with the team one day, and was hooked. He grew up through the ranks of the snowboard program until he graduated high school, and continued to pursue a professional career in the sport thereafter. Chase, glancing at the young SVSEF athletes as they bolt down West Bowl at Rotarun, gives a nod to the advantage that comes with starting early. “I was born and raised in Hailey, and just like these guys I started skiing and snowboarding when I was pretty young. It’s been so second nature to me, being on a snowboard – starting at a young age is a key factor for progression in your older years. A lot of people don’t get that chance – they start snowboarding when they’re 16 or 17 years old. They don’t have the head start like some of these athletes who are on skis or snowboards when they’re two feet tall.”

With an eye on Pyeongchang, Chase is looking forward to trying on those starchy new U.S. team uniforms. All jokes aside – what uniforms represent, cohesiveness and solidarity, underly what he values – the importance of community. As an U.S. Snowboard Team athlete living in Idaho, Chase splits his time between training with other athletes at camps and training at home. “I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to meet some of these winter sports athletes who I’ve never had a chance to travel with before, because we all meet up at the same locations. It’s going to be like a really big family over there with Team USA.” Community is a thread that runs deep for the snowboarder. Fellow SVSEF alumni and 2014 Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington gave Chase a call before Mammoth to offer some words of encouragement. (Rewind four years, and you’ve looking at an uncannily familiar scenario – Kaitlyn was at the last qualifier at Mammoth, and was also banking on a top finish to qualify for the Games). Andy Gilbert, Chase’s SVSEF coach for many years, was with him at the top of the Mammoth pipe before he dropped in for the win. “It was really cool to have Andy at the top of the pipe at Mammoth – he was one of my main coaches throughout my whole time with SVSEF, and now he is the U.S. Snowboarding Rookie coach, so he’s been able to travel with us on our program. Having him there, one of my most longtime supporters, was really cool and I’m glad he was there.” The same goes for Chase’s supporters back at home, who have been watching his journey from a distance. “This is one of the most supportive communities around, and everyone is so connected and knowledgeable about their winter sports athletes. It’s a really collective coherence of positive energy in the Wood River Valley.”
The second big thing Chase is looking forward to at the Winter Olympics – the quality of the venue – points to his enthusiasm and respect for the sport, and the professionalism he brings to it. “I’m looking forward to seeing the halfpipe – at the test event last year, they were really well prepared. They had a ton of snow, good cold weather to make it, and one of the best halfpipe cutters in the world shaping it every night; it was one of the best halfpipes of the year. I think the South Koreans are going to do nothing less than that; they’re putting a ton of energy towards it and are really motivated to make sure the venue is up to par.” This bodes well for Chase – with a world-class halfpipe, Chase’s level of technicality has room to breathe. “What he does especially well is the way he puts his tricks together,” explained Andy. “He has a very unique way of putting things together and a deep bag of tricks, so he can mix things up as needed, depending on how the event is going.”
Chase takes a run with the Rota-Rippers snowboard athletes before he leaves for his send-off party in town, guiding a new rider through her turns. What a way to end the day, and what a way to set off for the Games.
Tune in to watch Chase in his halfpipe qualifier on February 13: you can find the schedule here.
More photos from Chase’s afternoon at Rotarun can be found here.