High flyer

Spencer Cordovano

Snowboarder Spencer Cordovano, a sophomore at Sierra Nevada College, recently qualified for a spot on the U.S. Junior World Cup team. The 20-year-old will be traveling to Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, March 21-30 to compete. RN&R caught up with him on the phone as he was heading up a ski lift in Colorado.

So how do you get chosen to be on the U.S. Junior World Cup Team?

You have to qualify for events and … [be] born in 1988 or after. They take three people per discipline. … In Russia, I’ll be racing boardercross, alpine and competing in big air—that’s one big jump of 50-70 feet, and you do one trick a couple times.

Your coach [Tony Carlstrom] described you as fearless. Is that needed to be a good snowboarder?

Definitely, you get in the gate with three other people in boardercross, and you’re on a course that at its widest point is 15 meters, and you get up to speeds of like 50. I’m not really fearless, you just have to make up confidence and, usually, it works out for you.

Have you ever been to Russia?

No. I figure this will be my only chance to go. It gives me an excuse to learn about their history so I don’t look like an idiot when I go. And I hear the Russian women are kind of cute.

How did you get into snowboarding?

I grew up in a mountain town in Hailey, Idaho, a suburb of Sun Valley. It’s a really outdoorsy place, and there’s a huge mountain that brings skiers to the valley. I’ve been on competitive teams since the sixth grade. … I started skiing when I was 3 and switched to snowboarding in fifth grade. I started out as regular snowboarding, and then I switched to goofy [left-footed].

What does snowboarding have that skiing doesn’t?

Snowboarding is a blank slate; skiing has been going on forever. Snowboarding has been in its infancy. In the last five years, it’s blown up out of control. Snowboarding has a lot more creativity. … And we have half as many edges on our snowboards as skiers. Snowboarding had a negative connotation among skiers, but that’s gone out the window now. It’s become developed, and now it’s getting respect as a sport.

Your competition calendar looks pretty full.

Yeah, I’ve been to two week-long contests already. I’m at a week-long contest right now, and I’m on the road from Feb. 25-April 7. During that time, I’ll be going to Sunday River, Maine for college nationals. That’s where all the colleges in the country compete against each other. … Our team has won best overall for the last two years.

You’re coach says you’re the best rider they’ve ever had at SNC.

It’s definitely a compliment. I like to hear that. It gives me a drive to keep that status up while I’m here. Last year I won best individual at the college nationals; I’d like to do that all my four years at SNC.

Where are you right now?

I’m at Copper Mountain, Colorado, at the Chevrolet Revolution tour, and I am currently going down the run.

On your cell phone?

This is how I do my interviews, you know; I’m a busy man with snowboarding. Right now, I’m doing big-air training and about to hit a 50-foot tabletop.

Sounds like I should let you go. Is there anything you want to add?

My general outlook on snowboarding is to drink champagne in the victory lane.

You’re not 21 yet.

When you win, you get champagne …