Monday, May 20, 2019
Chase Josey-Spinning His Way to the Olympics
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Chase Josey has had to add autograph signing to his regimen in a big way since being named to the U.S. Olympic team.
 
Monday, February 5, 2018
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Brian Caulkins turned to 50 pint-sized skiers and snowboarders crowded around him at Rotarun Ski Area.

“This is Chase,” he said, gesturing to a young man wearing a blue stocking Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation cap and big rounded sunglasses. “And what is your sport?” he asked the man.

“Snowboard halfpipe,” piped up Chase Josey.

 
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“Go go Chase!” the Rota-Rippers cheered.
 

“Chase grew up on this team,” Caulkins said, turning back to the youngsters who are part of the Ski Education Foundation’s new Rota-Rippers program. “And now he’s headed to South Korea to compete in the Olympics, which start on Friday. So, all of you can watch him on TV with your parents and say, ‘I know him.’ And it’ll be fun because you can root for him.”

It was the calm before the storm for 22-year-old Chase Josey. The next day he would fly out of Hailey bound for Pyeongchang where he will be ushered into a whirlwind of media attention and other hoopla as one of 242 American athletes competing for Team USA on the world stage.

But on this particular day all he had to worry about was taking a run or two on the tiny ski hill where he made some of his own early turns, knowing that 10 years from now one of these youngsters might be headed to the Olympics because of meeting him that day.

Caulkins introduced him to a tiny girl wearing a pink helmet named Hadley.

 
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Brian Caulkins introduces Chase Josey to the Rota-Rippers.
 

“She’s going to be a hurricane 10 years from now,” the SVSEF coach told Josey. “I told her she couldn’t ride the lifts until she starts making some turns.”

Caulkins recalled the last time he ever saw Josey on skis. Josey was no older than Hadley when he pointed his skis straight down Upper Warm Springs, catching air as he launched off the I-80 cat track.

“I was afraid to look over the edge for fear what I might see below,” Caulkins recalled.

Josey began skiing at 2.

 
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Chase Josey, seen here with Mom, says he might like to study environmental science—but that’ll have to wait for now. Owning a snowboard company would be cool, too, he said.
 

“So sliding around on snow is second nature to me,” he said. “I think starting at a young age is a key piece of being so comfortable out there versus learning to ski or board when you’re 16 or 17.”

Josey traded in his skis for a snowboard at 5 as his father—Bill Josey, who owns Arborcare—introduced him to a sport that then was considered an outlier in Sun Valley.

Josey started riding with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation at 9 and never looked back.

“He always wanted to compete—he just loved it,” said Josey’s mother Kris Josey. “He started competing in slalom and giant slalom races—did all that.  And learning to carve on Bald Mountain taught him the basic fundamentals that have made him so good at halfpipe today.”

 
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“Eat your vegetables,” Chase Josey tells the kids.
 

SVSEF Snowboarding Coach Andy Gilbert, who now coaches the U.S. Snowboard Rookie Team, began riding with Josey when he was 10.

“He loves snowboarding—he’s the kind of kid who’s ready to ride if we get just two inches of snow covering the ground. That’s what you find in riders of this caliber. They don’t miss a chance to go snowboarding.”

Josey dipped into the first halfpipe Sun Valley ever built on Lower Warm Springs in 2003 and was smitten.

“I want to do that again!” he readily told his mother.

“I like that it’s not ski racing where you’re timed and all,” he explained. “You can express yourself freely--get creative--and I like that.”

Josey competed in national competition his first year against competitors who were much older.

“I remember people asking him, ‘Do they even allow snowboarding in Sun Valley? Do they even have a halfpipe?’ ” Kris Josey said.

“I think he got a little chip on his shoulder since Sun Valley was not seen as a snowboarding mountain,” said Gilbert. “And under such coaches as Chatham Baker, Jacob Tyler, Josh Keefer, John French and Billy Olson, he blossomed.”

Josey won a junior exhibition at a 2006 Olympic qualifier. He made the national rookie team as a senior  at Community School where he excelled in math and literature.

The 5-foot-10, 140-pounder won the U.S. open qualifiers in 2014, the prestigious Red Bull Double Pipe in 2015 and had an impressive 2016 season, finishing second at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix and earning a bronze medal at the inaugural X Games in Oslo.

He landed seconds and thirds in the Red Bull Double Pipe and U.S. Revolution Tours, earned a bronze medal in the 2017 Burton U.S. open halfpipe and won the 2017 Laax Open halfpipe with five consecutive doubles—something that had never been done before.

He has emerged as the United States’ most consistent halfpipe rider aside from Shaun White.

“He’s so consistent, good under pressure. He has a quiet demeanor, letting his ability shine through. He’s a humble kid who loves his sport, and he’s pretty good at it. His accomplishments are great but he’s done the hard work to get there,” said his mother.

Indeed, Josey watches what he eats. His breakfast of champions, he told the Rota-Rippers, is Chobani yogurt with a little granola and maybe a hard-boiled egg.

And, while he would rather be outside, he said he does due diligence in the gym knowing how important physical conditioning is to help avoid injuries. His teammates have followed suit as they’ve seen the success he’s had from his strength and flexibility work, Kris Josey said.

Bill and Kris Josey and Andy Gilbert were among a large contingent of Sun Valley residents at Mammoth Mountain two weeks ago when Chase threw down a 94.50 to win the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix that landed him on the Olympic team.

“Mammoth Mammoth on that Saturday night was rocking. A huge crowd, and they were definitely there to see the show,” said Gilbert. “He knew he needed to finish second or better if he had a chance of making the Olympic team, and he didn’t pull any punches. He was very focused. He put his head down and did it.”

He performed a switch double michalchuck, a maneuver that is extremely difficult to do forward. And he did it backward—not in his natural stance. It’s incredible to even attempt it, Gilbert added.

“I kind of have a passion for trying to being weird on a snowboard—that’s what got me started trying to ride both ways,” Josey said.

Sun Valley snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington, who won gold in halfpipe competition at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, called Josey before the competition.

“It was pretty cool. She said she was literally in the same in the same position that I was when she competed at Mammoth in 2014, knowing she had to have a win if she wanted to go to the Olympics. And she pulled it off. She told me, ‘Just have fun and go for it,’ ” Josey recounted.

“I knew it was my last qualifier and I needed a podium if I wanted to make the Olympic team. I felt like I had nothing to lose. So I decided to go for it 100 percent.”

Josey would certainly like to pull another dazzling display out of his large bag of tricks when he competes on Monday, Feb. 12, and Tuesday, Feb. 13, in Pyeongchang. He has the tricks it’ll take to do something special, and he is creative in the way he puts together his routine.

But he has stiff competition in Australia’s Scotty James and his own teammates—notably, Shaun White, whom Josey said he idolized as a youngster.

“Shaun White is 11 years older than I—he was around when I was growing up. So it’s going to be crazy cool competing in the Olympics alongside him,” he said. “I know I’ll being doing a lot of double corks and 1080s—stuff like that. I just have to remember to stay relaxed, take a deep breath when I need to.”

The U.S. Snowboard team, which consists of Chase, Shaun White, Ben Ferguson and Jake Pates, is “pretty incredible,” said Gilbert.

“They’re all tight knit—Chase and Ben are roommates who travel together all the time, and I think that will help them. Chase is a quiet understated kid. He’s not boastful—he lets his riding do the talking. He’s quietly done this based on the merits of his riding, not by hype or big sponsors. He’s an awesome kid—very hard working—and it’s cool to see this happen. We’re really pulling for him.”

Josey is known for pushing the limit with an impressive bag of difficult tricks, and he has a good sense for both the technical and style points.

“Chase always tried to bring both to the table. He kind of thinks outside the box as far as putting his runs together and that definitely sets them apart.  He’s one of the few riders incorporating a wide variety of switch tricks, able to spin all four directions,” said Gilbert.

“I kind of have a passion for trying to being weird on a snowboard—that’s what got me started trying to ride both ways,” said Josey.

Bill and Kris Josey and Chase’s 21-year-old brother Tanner, a ski racer now attending Westminster College in Salt Lake City, will travel to Pyeongchang to watch Chase compete. Chase’s friend Logan Shipley will accompany them.

“When Chase started competing, it was our job to be at the bottom of the halfpipe cheering him on while the coaches were at the top. Tanner grew up ski racing so it split the family,” Kris Josey recounted. “One of us went to watch Chase; the other, Tanner. In all those years there was only one event that the boys were in the same place at the same time. At least, this time we’ll be all together.”

Josey is looking forward to meeting all the other athletes—“it’s going to be like a big family affair,” he said.

“And I’m looking forward to watching some of the other competitions—gold medal hockey, in particular.”

Josey is also looking forward to riding the pipe clad in the U.S. Snowboard Team’s new high-tech uniform modeled after the 1960s NASA astronauts. He got a chance to try it out earlier and fell in love with it.

“They’re putting a ton of effort into making sure every venue is as good as possible. The halfpipe is well prepared—they’ve got one of the best halfpipe cutters there is. They prepare it every night and it stays cold. Sochi was totally unprepared. They didn’t build it well and it melted. And a lot of people suffered injuries on it.”

And when it’s all over?

“I’m heading to the beach,” Josey told the Rota-Rippers.

But, once he’s experienced life out of a few days of life outside his snowboarding parka for a few days, you can bet he’ll be back in Idaho at his first chance to do a little mountain biking, hiking, skateboarding and fishing.

“Just enjoying what Idaho has to offer!” he said.

With that Josey prepared to head north to Ketchum to greet other well-wishers at the Cellar Pub where Rick Lethbridge has hung one of his snowboards alongside Kaitlyn Farrington’s snowboard, Cody Lampl’s hockey jersey and Bobby Farrelly’s hockey stick.

But not before he had some parting words for the Rota-rippers.

“Have as much as fun as you can,” he told them. “Learn to ride with your friends. Look up to your coaches. And have as much fun as you can. It’s meant to be fun, not stressful.”

TEAM IDAHO

Chase Josey is one of mine athletes with Idaho ties that will be competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The others include Sun Valley’s three-time Olympian Hilary Knight, standout forward for the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team, and three-time Olympian Simi Hamilton, who formerly skied with the Sun Valley Nordic Team.

Also, University of Idaho’s Sam Michener, a brakeman for the four-man bobsled; Jessika Jensen, slopestyle snowboarder from Rigby; Breezy Johnson, alpine downhill and Super G racer from Victor, and three-time Olympian bobsledder Nick Cunningham, a former Boise State University Bronco. McCall natives Scott and Caitlin Patterson compete with the USA Nordic team.

 

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