Last March, in the lovely Swiss village of Laax, Anna Valentine threw a “front 5” and suddenly found herself high above the halfpipe’s lip. The 17-year-old snowboarder landed solidly after doing the one-and-a-half revolution trick (540 degrees, thus the “5”) and continued down the pipe. “I was definitely hauling a little faster than I was in practice, and I went a lot bigger than I ever had before, which was fun,” said Anna with a quiet laugh. With that trick, plus the rest of her run, Anna scored 82.5 and placed second in the 2017 FIS Junior World Championships. She finished just shy of Switzerland’s Berenice Wicki, who scored 84.3 on her first (of three) runs to win the world title. It was the culmination of an exciting year for Anna, now a senior at Okemo Mountain School. Before junior worlds, she had finished on the podium twice in U.S. Revolution Tour competitions; she also finished in second place in a Europa Cup halfpipe event the day before junior worlds, beating Wicki, but not Switzerland’s Verena Rohrer. In April, she won the USASA national halfpipe title. On May 9, 2017, Anna was named to U.S. Snowboard’s Rookie Team, which helps foster the next generation of American snowboarders. From Anna’s viewpoint, her entrance into the upper echelon of competitive snowboarding is a surprise. But not from the viewpoint of her coaches and teachers, who are used to seeing the unassuming teen riding her unicycle around campus. “The sky is really the limit for Anna, as she has all the ingredients to go as far as she wants to in the sport of snowboarding,” said Okemo Mountain School Head Snowboard Coach Luke Bonang. Anna’s journey up snowboarding’s ranks began at Okemo when she was three. Her great uncle was a ski patroller at Okemo. So the Valentines visited him in the winter, driving north from their home in Sparta, New Jersey. Within a year, the Valentines bought their own place at Okemo. “We never even looked at another mountain,” said Kathleen, Anna’s mom. The following winter, Anna and her twin brother Luke were on skis, harnesses tethering them to their parents. Luke mastered turning quickly, so his parents set him free from his harness. But not Anna. “She was not happy about that at all,” said Kathleen. “She was saying, ‘Why am I still on the harness?’ And I said, ‘Because you don’t turn.’” “I don’t turn because it slows me down,” Anna stated firmly, as only a 4-year-old can. Within a couple of years, Luke had joined Okemo’s ski race program as a Hopeful. But Anna had no interest. Meanwhile, brother Jack — a year-and-a-half older than Anna and Luke — was intrigued by the boxes, rails, and jumps in Okemo’s terrain parks, which in the mid-2000s were more the domain of snowboarders than freeskiers. So Jack traded skis for a snowboard. A year later, he was on Okemo’s snowboarding team. Not to be left out, Anna decided that she was ready to join a team too. But not the ski team. The snowboarding team. Anna Valentine From young shredder to junior world champion silver medalist, the Okemo Mountain School student is a model student and champion halfpipe rider Anna Valentine (left) took second at the Junior World Championships in March 2017. Berenice Wicki  (center) placed first and Leilani Ettel (right) claimed third. B Y P E G G Y S H I N N O M S A T H L E T E P R O F I L E Photos by Luke Bonang - continued on page 45 - > 802-228-1600 > page 43