Colby Stevenson has had his fair share of setbacks—most notably, a car accident and resulting brain injury in 2016, as well as a rotator cuff tear that removed him from Olympic contention in 2018. But as he says, “You gotta pay to play.” And, despite that upfront pain and heartbreak, Stevenson has launched huge comebacks.
Prior to his 2016 accident, Stevenson had never won a World Cup competition outright. Eight months later, he took his first gold at the 2017 World Cup at Seiser Alm, Italy.
“I just found the mindset that it takes to win—for me,” Stevenson says. “That’s just focusing less on winning and more on the love of the sport, the passion, and the gratefulness.” After that initial World Cup win, he landed two golds at 2020 X Games (as well as the Best In Snow award as a rookie) and took down silver at the Freeski World Championships.
Although Stevenson also competes in Big Air, he prefers slopestyle: its variability, creativity, and sheer challenge.
“What I love about freeskiing is that there’s no right way to do it,” he says. “There are no set criteria for your trick or your jump as there are in some other sports. It’s totally up to what you think is cool or what feels cool to you—what feels right.” In slopestyle, each course has three rails and three jumps, but that’s where the similarities end. “Every time you go to a competition, it’s a new course, new jumps, new rails, and it’s going to change the run you choose to do.”
Building a winning run, Stevenson explains, requires spinning in all four directions, landing switch (backwards, via left and right rotations), and serving up a smorgasbord of spins and degree-of-axis rotations via corks, mistys, bios, and beyond. Judges’ scoring is divvied up evenly between rails, which require technical excellence, and jumps, which call for amplitude. And variety is the name of the game. Stevenson’s big win at X Games required four entirely different runs with no repeat tricks—no easy feat.
“[Slopestyle] is just completely unique and ever-changing, and that’s why I’m addicted to it,” he says.
Local go-to eats: Davanza’s
Favorite international locale: St. Moritz, Switzerland
Favorite training snack: Trail mix
Pets: Recently deceased cat named Yoda (died on May 4)
Pre-event rituals: Shower with music, stretch, spin bike for 10 minutes, eat the same breakfast
Other interests: Dirt and mountain biking, wake boarding, golf, snowmobiling
Park City raised since age 4
Little-known tidbit: Used to be a good gamer (Call of Duty)
In terms of accomplishments, the all-around action-sports junkie says his YouTube-trending flicks, such as 2020’s backcountry powder-skiing, jump-hucking “Ignite,” rival his medals. Filmmaking may also be a launching pad for his future, once he’s too “old to compete.”
In the meantime, Stevenson is focusing on staying healthy and refusing to set himself up for a repeat of Olympic dream-deferred heartbreak.
“I’m just gonna go land a run,” he says. “If you start thinking about all this other stuff, then it’s going to get in the way of you landing a run. And that’s all that matters.”