When snowboarder Gus Sigel competes on the regional or national stage, he always has a piece of Wyoming with him in the form of a pair of worn Carhartt overalls.
Once tan and now faded almost to white, they keep him warm and make a statement on the slopes about a kid from a ranch near Centennial.
“I get a lot of funny looks,” said Gus, 17.
In early April, Gus placed second overall in the junior class, for boys from 16-17 years old, at the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association national championships, which took place at Copper Mountain ski resort in Colorado. The overall ranking factored placing in five events — snowboard cross, slalom, giant slalom, half pipe and slopestyle.
He learned how to snowboard as a child at the Snowy Range Ski Area. For the past two winters, he has moved to Colorado, to train with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, which offers youth training in winter sports.
Gus said Snowy Range Ski Area was a good place to learn the sport. He got his first taste of competition on the ski area’s terrain park, which inspired him to push for more.
“I got more and more competitive and wanted to join a team and put a lot of time into it,” he said.
He now spends his winters living with his aunt in Carbondale, Colorado, while commuting about 45 minutes a day on a bus to Aspen Snowmass, where he trains with professional coaches while homeschooling on the side. He’s not the only athlete who commutes to the team’s training grounds, but he is the only one from Wyoming.
“One kid flies in from L.A. every week on his private jet,” he said.
During the past season, Gus said he made the podium at every competition he went to, mostly in Colorado. Next winter, he’ll be on a team that competes around the region.
He’s hoping to continue placing in the top three in his favorite event, slopestyle, in which snowboarders navigate a course with a variety of obstacles such as rails and jumps. Competitors are judged on technicality and style.
Another goal is to join the USASA Rev Tour, which aims to develop young snowboarders through increasing levels of competition.
Back in Wyoming, Sigel helps his parents, Ed and Harmony, on the family ranch. They raise grass-fed beef, which they sell through Black Market Farm.
“I’ve got pictures of Gus feeding cows and doing backflips on a snowboard in the same pair of Carhartt bibs that he wears,” Ed joked.
Gus said ranching was a good way to support his snowboarding aspirations.
“There’s never not enough work,” he said.
Ed said he’s excited to see Gus’s snowboard career progress.
“We’re really, really proud of him and happy that he’s so driven about something,” he said.