Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Chillin’ With Chase Josey
Chase Josey competes in the 2018 Winter Olympics Monday night. PHOTO: Public domain courtesy of NBC.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Spencer Cordovano apparently thought the hometown crowd needed to feel the cold right along with the crowd watching the men’s halfpipe snowboard finals in PyeongChang.

So he arranged to put a screen up in Ketchum Town Square Tuesday night, live streaming the event with the City of Ketchum’s blessing. He provided FatBoy bean bag chairs. Spencer Brendel provided PlayHard GiveBack snacks, and the city placed fire pits.

And it was game on as Hailey hopeful Chase Josey tried to out-pizzazz the snowboarding trinity in his Olympic halfpipe snowboarding debut.

Chase Josey learned to snowboard with his father Bill Josey on Dollar Mountain back when snowboarding was considered an outlier sport. PHOTO: Karen Bossick

More than a hundred people left their warm living rooms behind to be part of the crowd, even though there had been little public notice of the event.

Among them: Maureen and Rich Puddecombe, who watched and waited alongside a KTVB camera crew from Boise.

“It might be cold, but we want to be with everyone –it’s more exciting than watching it by yourself,” said Maureen, as the temperatures dipped into the upper 20s. “We were here in Sun Valley when Picabo Street won and we were at Whiskey Jacques and everyone was cheering and it was so exciting. We were here when Kaitlyn Farrington won. And now we live here and want to root for the hometown boy.”

It was daylight in PyeongChang halfway around the world as the snowboarders took their places atop the 656-foot long halfpipe with its 22-foot high walls.

The Cellar Pub was one of several businesses that posted “Go Chase!” signs. PHOTO: Karen Bossick

As Chase Josey took his stand atop the halfpipe, the crowd roared with chants of “USA, USA!”

And he delivered with a Double McTwist and Frontside 1260, scoring 87.75, even as the TV announcer noted he hailed from Hailey, "a town 25 miles north of Sun Valley."

After one run, the 22-year-old Hailey native was in third place behind Shaun White and Scotty James. But he fell on his second run as the top contenders began to reach deep into their bag of tricks and dropped to fifth.

“It’s going to get weird now,” said longtime Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Snowboard Coach Andy Gilbert, who now coaches U.S. Snowboard’s rookie team.

The K-town crowd moaned as USA’s Jake Pates fell. A couple more guys faltered.

Then Josey appeared on the big screen.

He hoped to follow in the wake of fellow Hailey native Kaitlyn Farrington, who like him qualified for the Olympic team at the last minute, then upset veteran Olympians to win gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Less than a year later a 25-year-old Farrington had to retire from the sport she loved after learning she had a degenerative spine condition called congenital cervical stenosis that could put her at high risk for paralysis if she had continued to compete. But she was in PyeongChang as a TV commentator and the hometown crowd hoped she had said something to Chase that would bring the gold home to Sun Valley once again.

Josey careened above the halfpipe looking as if he were spinning in space in his uniform that resembled an astronaut’s suit. He smiled broadly in the finish area and fist bumped the TV camera.

And the judges handed him an 88.0. It was his highest score yet but not good enough to catch the top three snowboarders who had scores in the low 90s.

Josey's roommate Ben Ferguson, who was born in Boise but now lives in Bend, Ore., came down behind him. Even his 90.75 score was not good enough to catch the leaders.

It was down to a game of one-upmanship among the top three.

Japans’ 19-year-old Ayumu Hirano, who had won a pair of World Cup halfpipe events and the 2018 X Games competition, was in first place putting the pressure on the others as he started his final run.

But he fell, failing to put up a higher score.

Next up was Australia’s 23-year-old Scotty James, a two-time winner of World Championships and owner of the No. 1 ranking in the FIS World Cup standings last season. He had the switch backside double cork 1260—something no other rider is doing.

But he wiped out halfway through his run.

Then there was one: 31-year-old Shaun White, who had had a disappointing fourth-place finish in Sochi after winning gold medals at Vancouver in 2010 and at Turin in 2006.

With 17-year-old American snowboarder Chloe Kim winning the 99th gold at the Winter Olympics Monday night, he had the opportunity to rope in USA’s all-time 100th gold medal from the Winter Olympics. The first was one by Charles Jewtraw in the 500m speed skating competition in 1924.

But he had wiped out on his second run of the evening.

The crowd at Ketchum Town Square cheered as he performed one difficult trick after another, including back-to-back 1440s—something that left his face badly bloodied and bruised when he smashed onto the lip of a halfpipe while trying to learn to do it in New Zealand. White literally soared into the stratosphere.

And when the red head, who had had two surgeries to correct a congenital heart defect as an infant, careened into the finish area, he roared. He knew he had it. The crowd knew he had it.

They just had to wait for the judges to know he had it.

And when the judges gave their blessing with a 97.75 score, Team USA had its fourth gold medal—all contributed by snowboarders with wins by Red Gerard, Jamie Anderson, Chloe Kim and now Shaun White.

Cordovano, who owns Stellar Media, caught the crowd reaction on camera, just as he had done their reaction to Josey’s run.

“I wanted to do this for Chase, so he could see the hometown crowd,” he said."And I wanted everyone to see what Chase was doing. He's competing on the Olympics team!"

Even that was touch and go until Tuesday morning, said Alisa Sergeyeva, as the snowboard coverage lasted into the night.

“We didn’t know until morning whether Chase had qualified for the finals,” she said.

Indeed, the 22-year-old former SVSEF athlete had a lackluster run during the first of the qualifying runs, his board catching the lip of the halfpipe.

But Josey rebounded, doing what he needed to do on his second run to secure his spot in the finals.

When all was said and done, Josey finished sixth in a hard-fought contest. Hirano finished second; James, third, and Ferguson, fourth.

And Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw staged one final rallying cry.

“How many of you would like to see Sun Valley reinstate the halfpipe?” he asked the crowd.

The crowd roared their approval.

“We need a halfpipe,” Bradshaw shouted.


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