Small but mighty: Freestyle snowboarder Paizley White outshines the competition this season
At Copper Mountain Resort, a small figure in pink flashes down the halfpipe, readying for a jump older snowboarders might balk at. Getting air over the lip of the halfpipe, she does an indy grab before speeding back down the pipe.
This is eight-year-old Paizley White, who competed in the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association Snowboard National Championships from April 2-6. Paizley, a Grand County local, secured podium finishes at the nationals, winning two gold medals and two silver medals. This earns her the title of best freestyle rider in the USA in her age group.
This was Paizley’s second time competing in the USASA nationals. Last championship, she took third place in slopestyle. This year, she excelled in all the categories she competed in.
“I love going fast,” said Paizley of her experience. “I loved it.”
Paizley’s parents, David and Piper White, have nurtured Paizley’s love of snowboarding since she first strapped into a board at 2 years old.
In her five short years on the snow, Paizley has already made it big by qualifying for USASA National Championships twice in a row. The world’s best snowboarders and skiers of all ages convened for the event. Children as young as 7 and adults (including former Olympians) showed off their skills in a variety of categories. Paizley, one of the youngest snowboarders on the course, competed in rail jam, slopestyle, halfpipe and boardercross.
During rail jam, Paizley slid and spun across rail features, earning a silver medal in the event. The age category was 7-10, and she finished behind the first-place competitor who had just turned 11 years old.
She also won silver in boardercross – this was her second time competing in that event. Paizley sped down the course, taking banked turns, pumping over bumps and soaring over the straightaways.
Her shining moment was during the halfpipe. Paizley got big air at the event, enough to do an indy grab that earned her the gold.
“That was the first time she ever aired out of the halfpipe. Not even in training, she never aired out,” Piper said.
Paizley’s big air may have been inspired by a little sibling rivalry. Paizley’s six-year-old brother, River, also snowboards.
He aired out of the halfpipe first, a few days before she did,” said Piper. “So she was not going to let him beat her in a competition. They definitely push each other.”
Paizley also earned a gold in slopestyle. In this event, she spun and soared over jumps on the course, getting in a few tricks. Slopestyle allows snowboarders to be creative as they choose how they will land the jumps – it’s Paizley’s favorite event.
Paizley loved getting speed and air during the adrenaline-filled competions, but she also had a lot of fun socializing in the downtime.
“She loves meeting new people and hanging out between competitions,” said Piper. “One of the best parts was she got to see people that she used to train with … she got to run into a lot of her friends and coaches from across the U.S.”
Paizley also got a chance to make new friends with up-and-coming snowboarders from around the world. She may get a chance to train with these new friends, or even compete with them next season. Since nationals brings the next generation of professional athletes to one stage, there are plenty of connections to make at the event. It’s more fun than competitive.
As the snow melts, Paizley is already setting her sights on next season. She plans to get a racing board so she can get even better at boardercross. This year, she competed in boardercross on her park board, and still got enough speed to snag second place.
This summer, she’ll head up to the High Cascade Snowboard Camp in Oregon. She’s also moving on from her program at the Winter Park Competition Center to train full time with the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy next winter. There, she will learn four or five days a week alongside other accomplished student athletes who compete on the national and international level. She’ll compete in the Rocky Mountain Series, which will prepare her for USASA nationals.
Paizley also likes training at Woodward Copper at Copper Mountain Resort. Woodward offers year-round skiing and snowboarding activities, including an indoor facility where Paizley practices her snowboarding flips and jumps in foam pits, plus skateboards and does gymnastics.
Piper added that Paizley’s highest goals are making it to the Olympics or the Aspen X-Games. Her future is bright as she aims to hit higher jumps, land more tricks and conquer bigger mountains. But what’s most important to Piper is that Paizley continues to love snowboarding, no matter where that takes her.
“Right now, we’re just having fun,” said Piper. “She likes to do it, she’s fearless and she’s having fun doing it.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.
Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.
If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.