When it comes to riding a snowboard down a steep course under race conditions, Vic Wild is as natural an athlete as there is.
Displaying a combination of power and finesse, the White Salmon 15-year-old captured his first junior national snowboarding championship last month.
He did it by placing first overall in the United States Amateur Snowboarding Association Youth Men (ages 14-15) division's alpine combined, which featured a slalom race and a giant slalom.
A member of the U.S. junior national team, Wild took first in the slalom portion of the event on March 19, the first day of competition. He followed that up with a second-place effort in the GS on March 20. His margin of victory was 437.5 points.
"Winning the slalom was definitely the highlight just because it was the first time I'd ever won something at nationals, gotten first," Wild noted.
In the GS, he came in second to his friend and former Mission Ridge Snowboard Team teammate, Cody Knauss of Wenatchee, who finished fourth overall in the two-day, two-discipline competition for the second year in a row.
Wild's overall finish, however, was a step up on the podium; last year, he was runnerup in the alpine combined.
"I felt I could win, and so did my coach. I was riding really well this season, and I guess everything just came together at the right time," Wild said of his latest success on the slopes of Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
The teenager credited his victory to the guidance he received from his coach, Mike Mallon, and the support of his Steamboat (Colo.) Winter Sports Team teammates and host family, his sponsors (Nike, Dakine, Chapstick) and new gear (Burton board and boots, Phiokka bindings).
"But my coach probably had the most to do with my success," Wild observed. "He's a really cool guy. He knows a lot about snowboarding because he used to race."
Wild also cited the support of his family, including mom Carol; his grandmother, Kathleen Hiatt; his uncle Les and aunt Karen Vwick; and uncle John Kennedy.
"I couldn't have done this without them. They all helped me out a lot," he said of his family. "I'm pretty lucky."
Next up for the snowboarding prodigy is a series of summer camps leading up to the Junior World Championships next September in New Zealand.
After that he'll rest up at home before returning to Steamboat in November to begin another season of training and racing in the SOS Outreach Series.