A young man gaining a reputation as the world’s best snowboarding junior just happens to live and go to school in Narooma.
11-year-old Valentino Guseli lives in Dalmeny and is in Year 6 at Narooma Public School.
Val, as he is also known, just returned from his latest world tour where he competed in the USA Nationals for a second time and was again US overall champion, this time winning four gold medals and a silver.
He was just named Best Super Grom by Snowboardermag at the launch of the US competition where he competed in the Super Park event.
“When you are having fun it just feels like you are in a whole different world. When I am snowboarding I feel like this is who I really am,” Val says in a Transworld Snowboarding video. “My mind is set on just snowboarding for the rest of my life and getting a girlfriend when I am older that doesn’t yell at me.”
Dad Ric is justifiably proud of his young son who is now recognised as the best junior snowboarder in the world and is considered an absolute prodigy on the slopes.
“He absolutely love it, lives and breathes it,” Ric said.
It all started out when dad took him at age 3 to Perisher on the slopes of the Snowy Mountains and even at this early age people noticed him and his talents.
Then three years ago he competed in a regional series and qualified to compete overseas. Since then he was won every discipline he has entered.
Val’s snowboarding has not interfered with his education and he scored good marks in all his NAPLAN tests. His mother Kristen is a former teacher and so helps with his school work when he travels.
This Australian winter he will be travelling up to the slopes just about every weekend and he will spend the whole month of August participating in the newly formed Australian development team for snow sports.
“The formation of the team was partly because of what Val has accomplished,” Ric said. “He has really lifted the standard of snowboarding in Australia and around the world for his age.”
He was the youngest kid to perform a double back flip after a trip to Japan in January where he performed his now trademark “double wildcat” on a specially built ramp. On the half pipe, he can do seven different inverts and spins up to 900 degrees.
He already has a long list of sponsors and his recent results automatically qualify him for next year’s international competitions in the USA.
The Guseli family is also hoping to form a team from Narooma Public School if there are students interested in joining Val in a team of three for the Australian Interschool Snowsport Championships held this winter.
His results so far include:
AUSTRALIAN JNR SERIES 2014, 2015 - Overall Age Champion
NZ NATIONALS 2014, 2015 - Overall Age Champion
AUSTRALIAN NATIONALS 2014, 2015 - Overall Age Champion
USA NATIONALS 2015 - 6 gold medals in all discipline
USA NATIONALS 2015 - Overall Age Champion
USA NATIONALS 2016 - 4 gold medals, one silver
USA NATIONALS 2016 - Overall Age Champion
Val’s boarding bio:
“Already, the (Narooma) youngster has bagged himself the Overall Championship in the 2015 USASA Championship in America, two gold medals at the Subaru Interschools Nationals, as well as impressing an array of spectators for his continual performances at Perisher each winter. Last year Boardworld stated: “As Australia continues to punch above its weight in the snowboarding world, young shredders continue to emerge and prosper on our shores. 9-year-old Valentino Guseli is one of those kids who seems to be on the road to a successful snowboarding career. This kid could be Australia’s next big thing.”
Professional snowboard photographer Andrew Fawcett echoed the same sentiments in Transfer snowboard magazine early this year: “I had the pleasure of meeting the 10-year old dynamo last season in Perisher. Each day that I saw Valentino ride, he was shredding better than the last, constantly pushing himself well beyond his years. Look out world, here comes the smiling, flying V.”
Each season, Guseli‘s portfolio of hype clips continues to balloon, with over 10,000 views across his 2014 and 2015 Vimeo reels, in addition to the new Instagram clips he’s dropping several times a week. As for the future, Valentino’s immediate bucket list remains beautifully simplistic. When asked by Transfer where he’ll be in five years, he stated: “I will be snowboarding. I will be travelling around the world having awesome times with my family and friends.” By then he’ll still only be 15. And if the accolades he’s currently receiving are any indication of where he’ll be, then surely it will be pretty exciting. Keep your eyes peeled.
Elijah Teeter on Val: “The Man Valentino. Val joined up with our crew for two weeks down in New Zealand! He fit right in amongst our pro riders and really held his own for the duration of our time on snow. What an amazing kid to hang out with! Nothing but smiles as we ripped around on our skates and snowboards. Val is not scared to try anything and even when he slams, gets back up, makes the necessary modifications to come out and stomp. In slope he showed some of his creativity on rails and jumps but our main focus down there was adding amplitude, bigger tricks and some more style to his halfpipe game. He really just loves to snowboard. Constantly looking for that new trick that he can call his own. He doesn’t care who’s around him, he just wants to ride all day everyday. In the halfpipe he’s got a proper mctwist, front 5 tail, back 5, switch back 5, front 7 melon, alley oop rodeo, cab 5, switch airs, as well as his regular straight airs. Definitely one to look out for this year and the years to come!”
Ross Powers on Val: “Valentino is a young all around ripping snowboarder with a great attitude. He’s always pushing his riding to higher levels and being creative along the way.”