VAIL, Colorado - Ski and Snowboard Club Vail's Snowboarding Director Ben Boyd says there are two young rippers to look out for this season: Ryan Wachendorfer, 15, and Jake Pates, 13.
They are two of the best juniors in the country, having worked with the U.S. Project Gold camps and medaled at the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) Nationals, Boyd says.
The Project Gold camps are for the most promising junior riders in the country. Riders interact with some of the best coaches and fellow riders to progress to another level.
Ryan and Jake seem to keep reaching the next level all the time, too. Progression is what keeps them going.
"I want to become a professional and make a living off snowboarding," Jake says. "It's just so fun - the thrill of it, the joy of landing a trick or doing well in a competition."
Jake, a student at Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, competes in slopestyle and halfpipe. He's heading for the European Open in Switzerland and the U.S. Open in Vermont, both in January. He's confident he's going to do well in both competitions, and so is Boyd.
"He's just very dedicated to what he does," Boyd said. "He wants technical feedback, which for a kid his age is pretty rare."
Jake's performance at last year's USASA Nationals proves that his dedication to the sport is unyielding. Jake placed third out of more than 60 riders, and he had just broken his collar bone six weeks earlier.
Boyd said Jake and Ryan both have long-term goals that include making it to the Olympics. For guys as dedicated as these two, that goal seems entirely possible.
Ryan, also a Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy student, rides six days a week for training. He finished third in slopestyle at the European Open last year, and 10th in pipe.
There's a feeling of accomplishment, he says, when he progresses his riding. He also loves that feeling when his blood gets pumping, like when he's standing at the top of the pipe about to drop in.
"It's a good feeling," Ryan says.
It's also a good feeling knowing they have total control over their snowboarding careers right now. They're working hard, day in and day out, trying to make sure those careers happen because they have to happen - there's nothing else these guys would rather be doing.
"I want to snowboard for the rest of my life," Ryan says. "It'll be awesome if I can snowboard the rest of my life without having a (real) job."
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.