Vail area Youth Olympian spotlight: Edwards snowboarder Jack Coyne
EAGLE COUNTY — Edwards snowboarder Jack Coyne became the first local to earn entry spots in both slopestyle and halfpipe competitions at the Burton US Open last year. Unfortunately, he broke his wrist in practice and didn’t get a chance to take on the double duty of both disciplines at that event.
But he’ll have a chance to double down again in January at the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland.
It will be one last chance for Coyne, 17, to shine in both of the sport’s marquee events before the inevitability of specialization catches up with him and he’s forced to choose one. He’s leaning toward halfpipe at this point.
“I still love slopestyle, still ride slopestyle as much as I can, but it’s just at a point where it’s hard to do both in snowboarding,” Coyne said. “I was getting more opportunities in halfpipe, so I thought it was worth it to focus on that.”
Coyne has reached some of the sport’s top events in halfpipe recently, competing in the World Cup Grand Prix event at Copper Mountain this season and last, and also competing at a World Cup in Lax, Switzerland, last season. In December, Coyne notched a podium at a North America Cup event, one step below the World Cup, with a second-place finish.
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The Youth Olympic Games is open only to athletes who are between the ages of 15 and 18 as of Dec. 31, 2020. Coyne is one of four snowboarders from the U.S. to qualify.
In addition to ski and snowboard competitions, athletes from the sports of bobsled, curling, figure skating, ice hockey, speedskating, luge and skeleton also will take part. Events will take place on the shores of Lake Geneva and in the Vaud Alps, with the local university campus serving as the Youth Olympic Village.
The Winter Youth Olympic Games are the second-largest multisport winter event, second only to the Olympic Winter Games, and, as with the the Olympic Winter Games, the International Olympic Committee oversees them.
Coyne will be there for about 10 days of the 13-day competition.
“I’m looking forward to staying in the Olympic village and watching all of the events,” he said.
The U.S. team is stacked, with Summit County snowboarder Jake Canter, who competed in X Games last year, joining Coyne, along with California snowboarders Dusty Henricksen and Kolman LeCroy.
However, “the toughest competition will be some of the Japanese halfpipe riders,” Coyne said.
Coyne finished second at the North America Cup Revolution Tour event in December behind 14-year-old Shuichiro Shigeno, and 17-year-old Kaishu Hirano finished fourth and 15-year-old Kaishu Nakagawa fifth. All but Coyne are from Japan.
Big boots to fill
Coyne said making it to the Youth Olympic Games has been a goal of his since he saw Eagle local Jake Pates get the nomination and compete in 2016.
Pates went on to win both the halfpipe and slopestyle competitions.
“It would be a tough, tough act to follow to win both,” Coyne said.
Coyne said representing Eagle County like Pates did in 2016 will be quite an honor. Several other student-athletes from the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy qualified, as well. Coyne is currently in his senior year there.
“I think it’s pretty cool how many kids from our senior class at VSSA made it,” he said.
Follow along with the Youth Olympic Games, which take place from Jan. 9-22, by visiting teamusa.org.