Eagle resident Jake Pates makes Olympic team | CraigDailyPress.com

Eagle resident Jake Pates makes Olympic team

John LaConte
jlaconte@vaildaily.com

EAGLE — Local Jake Pates received confirmation Saturday, Jan. 13, that he will be named to the Olympic team for U.S. halfpipe snowboarding.

Considered a longshot for the team just a few short months ago, Pates said 2017-18 has been a season of dreams so far for him.

"This year, already, has exceeded my expectations," Pates said Sunday. "I've definitely taken a second to look back, and there's plenty of blessings that I never saw coming."

Pates received the news following Saturday's Olympic qualifying event in Snowmass, where he finished fourth. He led the field for much of the competition with a score of 94, which would be good enough for a win at many events, but an unprecedented final round saw him knocked off the podium by Shaun White, Yuto Totsucka of Japan and Scotty James of Australia.

Being second among Americans, however, put Pates in a spot where no other American can knock him out of a top-3 point total after also notching a win at an Olympic qualifier in December. Pates said he found much relief in hearing that news at this point in the season, with a couple more big competitions still remaining before Pyeongchang.

"I really just want to enjoy the moment," he said.

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'HAD THE VISION'

Pates unveiled a signature trick this season in December at the second of four Olympic qualifier events, a never-before-seen backside double cork 1260 with a tail grab.

While spinning backside on a double cork 1260 — which includes three spins and two flips — is itself a difficult version of that trick, otherwise known as the Double McTwist, it's the tail grab that really makes it stand out. Fans are used to seeing the trick performed with a between-the-bindings grab, and Pates' tail grab gives this exciting maneuver and whole new look.

"I had the vision in my head," he said. "And when I saw it on video, it looked just how I had imagined it … it was really cool to see it come to life like that."

The ability to visualize tricks is an important skill in a sport where competitors are always looking for ways to stand out, and Pates' mother, Amy Pates, says she saw a lot of development in Pates' ability to visualize in his days as a young teenager working with coach Elijah Teter.

"Elijah and his wife come from a very mindful place, very meditative and very focused," Amy Pates said. "I think that helped Jake a lot, he was very grounding."

Pates, now 19, went on to work with the U.S. Snowboarding Team, getting pro-level invites to competitions starting at age 15.

"I've had so many people on my side supporting me since I was just a little kid," he said. "Obviously my mom and dad have supported me endlessly, but my extended family, friends on the team, coaches, team managers, sponsors, everyone has always believed in me."

X GAMES FIRST

All along, however, an X Games Aspen invite — considered the most elite in the sport — has eluded Pates.

"I foreran X Games when I was 8 years old, spent the whole day shredding with these mega pros that I had idolized," he said. "That was where the spark of inspiration came from, for me, so it's always been a dream."

This year, before Pates' dreams of competing in the Olympics come true, his dreams of competing in X Games will come true, as well, as he has now received an official invite to that event.

"It's crazy to think about, X Games and Olympics in the same year," he said. "It justifies for me, that if there's something you work hard enough for, you can achieve it, and having people around you that motivate you in a positive way is a serious key to success."