June 1, 2022
Teenage superstar Valentino Guseli has been taking the snowboarding world by storm ever since he was a grom dominating the junior events. Last year at 15 he qualified FIRST at his first ever World Cup! Finishing 8th was pretty amazing and not long after that, he set the world record for height out of the half pipe. 7.3m out of the deck to beat Shaun White’s 2010 record of 7m. Making a big impression on the snowboarding world stage, this year he got an invite to the X Games, one of the biggest ever comps in Snowboarding and after competing in the Olympics this year, Valentino Guseli is becoming a household name.
With coach Tom Pelly, Valentino has been ticking off a few goals this past Northern Hemisphere winter. Things like getting World Cup podiums and landing runs in the Olympics, going to the Audi Nines in Switzerland. Not the average goals of a 17 year old. But Valentino is no average 17 year old. Strapped into a snowboard for the first time at the age of 3 in an orange onesie, “I just rode down and I loved it.”
Riding more and more each year, he did his first inter school races at six. Not performing well due to illness gave him the drive to be better. Determined to not let that happen again, he and his dad put in a lot of effort to make sure that no matter what happens he will always get through an event. “I’ve always been really competitive, I just always really wanted to do as well as I can.”
Getting into slopestyle the following year at the New Zealand Nationals, he then went to America competing, getting into the halfpipe, going back to the USA nationals for the next five years. “Doing every discipline, really helped my snowboarding grow and taught me some very valuable lessons about the way to ride a snowboard and how the board control works.”
Originally planning to compete at the Olympics in slopestyle, big air and half pipe, breaking his arm in an early season progression camp meant that after recovery he only had two weeks to train in halfpipe before the Olympics.
It was a dream of Valentino’s to get to the Olympics and semi-finals day was very hectic. Not landing his first run cleanly, he had one chance on his next run to land it. It was massive relief when he did. Valentino finished 6th overall.
The remainder of the World Cups after the Olympics Valentino competed in slopestyle and in just his second year competing on the World Cup circuit made the podium, twice.
“Going into a comp you always want to have your runs so dialled that all you need to do is just switch off when you’re in that comp run, and it’ll just happen. I managed to have it like that for some of the comps, like my last World Cup in Corvatsch, Switzerland. I did the best run of my life in slopestyle, and I managed to get third, but I’ve done so much repetition of that run on that course that I could just let it happen and it all just happened naturally.”
His new goals are now set even higher, to be the best snowboarder of all time!
At his Grandparents house on the NSW South Coast, he has his own training facility. A dry slope with an air bag. “It’s nice because it means that I don’t have to travel as much. This winter I’ll be able to train on it then take some tricks to the snow when it’s good.” And when the snow’s not good, you’ll find Valentino at the surf because the waves will be offshore.
Still studying via distance education between travelling, snowboarding, surfing and playing the guitar, he has a little acoustic guitar for travelling. “I think I’d go crazy without it. You never know what’s going to happen in winter locations where the mountains are 4,000 meters above sea level.
Since landing back at home in Oz, he has his feet firmly on the ground, catching up with mates, going to music festivals and playing guitar with his uncle.
Next northern hemisphere winter will be a bit more relaxed for Val without the Olympics. “I’m just going to go to the training camps before the season starts and work on some tricks and try and prepare myself the best I can for the season and then just go and do my thing, have a good time and hopefully get some good results.”
“It’s very hard to stay injury free but the person who can stay injury free and be at the top of their game is very smart in the way they do things. Doing the really big tricks but doing them in a way that there’s not too much danger involved, and having that control where no matter what happens you can still find a way out to a safe spot. It’s a difficult thing to do, but it’s a good thing to be aware of and to understand. I’m still learning about it but hopefully by the time I’m in my prime, I’ll have a really good understanding of it. Someone like Scotty James does that really well, he’s won so much, done the craziest tricks at the highest amplitude in the halfpipe, and managed to stay healthy the whole time. That’s pretty insane. Big respect to that because not many people can do that.”
As a grom, Valentino was inspired by now Olympic team mate Scotty James. “It’s awesome to see someone from Australia doing well and putting Australia on the map for snowboarding even though we’re not really seen as a winter sport country, it’s super awesome to have him there.” I have no doubt Valentino will be following in Scotty’s footsteps, putting Australia on the map and inspiring another generation of snowboarders.