Narooma can be proud to lay claim to being home to one of the world’s best junior snowboarders in the shape of 12-year-old Valentino Guseli.
Val wrapped his United States winter season up earlier this year, again winning the US Nationals, as well as improving his placing from fifth to second in the prestigious US Open.
His father Ric said he came second in this year’s US Open held in Vail, Colorado where he competed against the best junior snowboarders in the world. Last year at just age 10, he finished fifth at the Open.
And then he went one better to beat all his competition in the US Nationals where the world’s top 80 junior snowboarders qualify for the event in Copper Mountain, also in Colorado.
I just have to try and not to be stupid about it. I really enjoy when I go back home, I get to go to school and see my friends, surf and get smart.
Val and his family spent about two months over in the United States competing, which was backed up with four weeks in Switzerland.
He is now all set for the Australian snow season and will be based at Perisher each weekend throughout the winter. He has already started boarding at Perisher as the slopes opened early and the cold weather has made for one of the best starts to the season.
Val will be up at the mountains for the official opening of the season this June.
He will again be competing in all the Australian junior snowboarding events, including the Australian Nationals where he was his age champion in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
When not off competing overseas, Valentino is in Year 7 at Narooma High School, but his mother who is a teacher by profession, takes over his education when he is on the road.
Asked by Snowboarding Magazine how he balances school and snowboarding life, he said: “I just have to try and not to be stupid about it. I really enjoy when I go back home, I get to go to school and see my friends, surf and get smart.”
At age 12 the South Coast youngster has already won a majority of the medals and is the overall US National Champion in 2015, 2016 and 2017, not only winning the slopestyle and halfpipe events, but also clearly dominating the racing events. Valentino’s US results are similarly reflected in the Australian and NZ events.
In 2016 he was invited to Burton US Open Half Pipe to compete against the best 14 and 15 year olds on the planet. In 2016 US Open he came 5th and followed it up in 2017 with 2nd.
Each season Val’s portfolio and clips balloon adding new clips to Vimeo, Instagram and Facebook. He has also had many photos and interviews in Australian and International snowboarding magazines.
As for the future, Valentino’s immediate bucket list remains beautifully simplistic. When asked by transfer where he will be in a few years, he said: “I will be snowboarding and travelling the world, learning and stomping new tricks, and having fun with my friends.”