So she took lessons and joined the team when she was 8. “Honestly, I’m not really sure what hooked me at first,” replied Anna when asked what she liked about snowboarding. “But what I like about it now is how much freedom you have.” Around the same time, Kathleen decided to move the family to Okemo at Christmas and stay until spring; she would home school her three kids. In eighth grade, Anna and Luke began attending Okemo Mountain School — Kathleen jokes that the kids’ math had become too hard for her. For high school, the three kids went in different directions. Jack’s focus shifted to lacrosse, so he stayed home in New Jersey. And Luke chose to attend Holderness School in New Hampshire. At Okemo, Anna’s talents in the halfpipe and park began to show. Until then, she had competed in snowboard racing (giant slalom, parallel slalom, boardercross), as well as the freestyle side of the sport. But her heart lay in the style and freedom of doing jumps and tricks in the pipe and park — and her years racing around gates would pay off. “I don’t regret racing for so long,” she said. “Learning how to carve and doing gates is really good when you’re younger. It gives you the fundamentals, and it’s definitely helped me out in the halfpipe now.” In March 2014 — the spring of eighth grade — Anna entered the Vermont Open in Stratton. Competing against women many years older, she won the pro halfpipe and banked slalom (Olympic gold medalist Ross Powers won the pro men’s competitions). “That was definitely surprising,” Anna said. “It was a moment that I realized how much I loved the spirit of competition and the camaraderie.” Her freshman year, Anna entered her first Rev Tour event, a halfpipe in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. The Rev Tour is the minor league of snowboarding — a series of halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air events that give up-and-coming athletes a chance to break into the pro ranks. Olympic medalists Sage Kotsenburg, Maddie Bowman, and Kaitlyn Farrington all participated in the Rev Tour when they were young. Anna finished fourth in the Seven Springs Rev Tour. A year later, she stood on the podium, taking third in halfpipe and second in slopestyle. “I remember going to my first Rev Tour in Pennsylvania,” Anna said. “I didn’t really expect to get top 10 finishes, and I did. From there, I didn’t expect to get top five finishes. And from there, podiums were a goal, but they were still pretty unexpected.” This past season, she finished fourth in a foggy Rev Tour slopestyle at Waterville Valley in New Hampshire. The next day, a cold front blew in, turning the soft slopestyle course to concrete. She finished third. A month later at California’s sunny Mammoth Mountain, she won a Rev Tour halfpipe, beating 20-year-old Noelle Edwards, who’s competed in many World Cups and senior world championships, and U.S. Rookie Team member Zoe Kalapos, who won a silver medal at junior worlds in 2014. Then came the junior world championships. It was Anna’s first international competition. “I really had no idea how I would do against all the girls from Europe and Australia,” she said. “So getting second was very exciting.” Her coaches are more effusive about her progress. Not only has she become stronger mentally and physically, but she “has the ability to turn it up a notch (or three!) at competitions,” wrote Coach Bonang in an email. “Anna loves snowboarding and makes it look incredibly fun!” Bonang wrote. “She has separated herself from other female riders with a distinctive array of tricks and grabs that is rare to see in women’s snowboarding. It’s difficult to compare Anna’s riding with others as I firmly believe she is paving her own path in the sport.” So what has driven Anna to such heights? Perhaps a touch of sibling rivalry. Kathleen remembers when Anna and her two brothers stayed outside until all three had mastered Anna Valentine making it look easy. Anna Valentine O M S A T H L E T E P R O F I L E - continued from page 43 - - continued on page 47 - > 802-228-1600 > page 45