The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
A pack of kids followed snowboarder Julia Marino everywhere she went at Copper Mountain this past Saturday. The 24-year-old’s visit was part of a tour following her silver medal–winning performance in the women’s slopestyle event at the Winter Olympics in Beijing last month. It was also a chance for her to pay homage to the region where she learned to ride after switching from skiing at age 13.
Marino, who has also collected seven X Games medals, is originally from Westport, Connecticut. But she considers the two winters she spent in Breckenridge and Vail as a teenager to be some of the most important on her path to becoming one of the best snowboarders in the world.
That's only $1 per issue!
During the event this past weekend, we caught up with Marino to hear how winning an Olympic medal has changed her life, why she decided not to participate in the Big Air competition after the International Olympic Committee asked her to cover the Prada logo on her board, and what she hopes to accomplish next.
5280: How has life changed now that you have an Olympic medal?
Julia Marino: It’s changed a little bit, but not too much. I have more people recognizing me, I guess. But it’s snowboarding—a little different than basketball or something super popular. It’s mostly been a lot of messages from friends and family and people I haven’t heard from in a while.
What’s the coolest experience you’ve had since Beijing?
One of the coolest things was going to the fashion week in Milan [with sponsor Prada]. That was insane. I got to meet a lot of really cool people. It was a culture shock to me. It was cool to see what that world was like.
You bowed out of the Olympic Big Air competition after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suddenly told you that the Prada logo on your board had to be covered up, even though you’d already used the same board in the slopestyle event. I know they tried to cover up the logo with Sharpie. Did that really slow the board down? What exactly happened?
A person from the IOC told me to my face in slopestyle that my board was fine, so I don’t understand. They put something on top of the Sharpie so it wouldn’t come off and it just felt kind of odd. I had gotten hurt a few practices before. It didn’t help my decision [on whether to compete in Big Air]. My board didn’t feel right in addition to my body feeling hurt. It was just a combination of factors. It was a ridiculous situation, but slopestyle is my main event. I was happy to walk out of there happy and healthy.
You were in the lead spot of the slopestyle event until New Zealander Zoi Sadowski-Synnott nailed an amazing final run. What was it like to watch her beat you out there?
[Zoi] is such a strong rider. If she puts together what I think she’s going to put together, it’s obviously going to be on top. I’m super happy for her. She’s one of the hardest working out there. She’s always grinding. To see her success, that’s something we all predicted. She deserves it a lot.
You spent some time here in Colorado when you were growing up. How pivotal was that time in your growth as a snowboarder?
At 13, I made the switch from skiing to snowboarding. And at 14, I went to Stratton Mountain School [in Vermont]. My dad saw what I was able to do, and he thought being out West would be the best option. He moved out [to Colorado] with me. It gave me the opportunity to ride bigger courses and bigger jumps, and get prepared for whatever was to come.
You’ve steadily progressed throughout your career, but you seemed to skyrocket to the next level at the Winter Olympics. How do you explain that progression?
I think the progression has just come from having a better understanding of how I am on my snowboard, a deeper connection with my feet and my board, understanding tricks better, having a better knowledge of the sport and how to throw things. It makes me more comfortable to throw stuff that may have been scarier in the past and just try to approach the competitions like I’m going to come and do what I know how to do.
What’s next for you?
I don’t think I’m going to do many comps for the rest of the season. I just want to snowboard with friends. I’m looking forward to getting to do some solo boarding and be on my own terms, not having a schedule to follow, just snowboard for the sake of snowboarding and having fun.