Person 2 Person: Sage Kotsenburg
He is an Olympic gold medal snowboarder raised in Park City, Utah, and for Sage Kotsenburg it is all about having fun. Prior to the Olympic finals, Sage called his brother Blaze and said he was thinking about trying a brand new skill; a trick he had never even attempted. Blaze gave his little brother the green light and Sage went on to land what he calls the run of his life; clinching the very first gold medal of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the first gold medal in slopestyle snowboarding at the Olympics. In this week’s “Person 2 Person” Shauna Lake sits down with Sage Kotsenburg.
Below is a transcript of Shauna Lake’s interview with Sage Kotsenburg:
SHAUNA LAKE: First and foremost, congratulations.
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Thank you.
SHAUNA LAKE: I mean a gold medal at the Olympics. What does that feel like?
SAGE KOTSENBURG: It feels so incredible. It just feels like a dream or something. I’m just pinching myself every day. I can’t believe this is real you know?
SHAUNA LAKE: One thing that made you kind of neat in the Olympics is that you were so approachable through Twitter and social media; you really let people experience the Olympics along with you.
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Yeah.
SHAUNA LAKE: Did you do that consciously or was that just something that kind of happened on accident?
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Yeah it really just kind of happened. I mean it’s just kind of how I am. What everyone thought was pretty funny was just the night before I was just like, “Well it all goes down tomorrow no matter what. Snowboarding still goes on. I can’t believe this moment.” Then morning of I was like, “I can’t believe it’s going down today.” And then it was, “I can’t believe I made the finals. This is so random.” And then the next tweet was just, “I won the Olympics. This is crazy.” Everyone seemed like, I don’t know, it was so emotional for me too because everyone that kind of came along with me. It was so cool because they kind of were just with me right there. You know I was, I had my cell phone, and after the event as soon as I could I just tweeted it out and it just blew up everywhere. So I like it. I like interacting with everyone. It’s cool.
SHAUNA LAKE: That moment when you’re on the podium. What does that feel like?
SAGE KOTSENBURG: During the time I was really in shock, and then once I got to myself I was just like…I was just, “Woah. I can’t believe.” I was calling my mom and dad and that’s when it was like really emotional for me. But everything else, I was in such a state of shock. But also when my friend Joss Christensen won ski slopestyle, I was like crying running around my room. I was way more emotional watching someone else because I knew what he was going through, but then he told me the same thing. He was like, “Man I watched you…” It was like I felt so many emotions but when I won it was just like…you know you’re so taken aback by it.
SHAUNA LAKE: It feels like to get to the level where you have, what you’ve achieved in your sport, it really is a family commitment often.
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Yeah definitely.
SHAUNA LAKE: Tell me about that.
SAGE KOTSENBURG: So we moved to Park City when I was three I believe. And we started skiing for a year, and then my brother started snowboarding when he was seven. I was five. So I jumped on the bandwagon, ditched the skis, and just went snowboarding. Then my whole family started snowboarding. We just got into it so much, like our whole lives literally revolved, they still revolve around snowboarding, you know? There’s not a day where we don’t all talk about snowboarding or something. It’s just, we’re addicted to it. So having a family that was so supportive, driving us around to all these local competitions, and just supporting us through the whole thing was so cool. And I mean you need it for sure because without having family support it’s so hard. And me with my mom and dad, we’re so close that I was talking to them over there all I could and it means a lot for sure.
SHAUNA LAKE: I know for a while your nickname was “Second Place Sage.”
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Yeah.
SHAUNA LAKE: Was there ever a time, Sage, where you just wanted to give up? And just thought you know this dream is not going to happen for me. I need to go a different direction.
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Not so much giving up. I definitely have a lot of second places and everything. I never got too down because it’s awesome to get second place is still on the podium. But I just got a little bit over competing last year, and that’s when I kind of started just doing my own thing and thinking outside the box and getting creative with my runs. And then the judges started really liking it and rewarding it starting this year, and it’s when I kind of just stopped doing things for other people and started doing it for myself. Not in like a selfish way, but as in like a, “You know what? I’m not going to do a run to please a judge or something. If they want to reward it then they can. This is how I snowboard and if they like it, it’s awesome, and if not then it’s just not meant to be.” So once I understood myself and my own riding is when I started going to the top.
SHAUNA LAKE: Yeah it sounds like you’re saying once you fell back in love with it.
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. And as much as snowboarding is…you go to a competition. You don’t want to go there and lost you know? You want to win the contest. But snowboarding is all…it comes from having fun and being with your friends. So when you have both of those, when you have the drive to win and you’re having fun, it’s like nothing can stop you.
SHAUNA LAKE: What do you think about people who think that snowboarders are so like, “Dude. Chill.” Like there’s a lot of work and intensity that goes into that sport.
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Yeah.
SHAUNA LAKE: So there’s kind of like a misconception wouldn’t you say?
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Yeah there’s definitely I mean I’ve probably said dude a lot of times in this interview, you know? I mean we are like that, but we are also…snowboarding is such a level of progression and like you can’t be...you can’t go up there and just be messing around. We’re doing tricks that you know you could, it’s like life or death on some of the tricks if you don’t know what you’re doing or if you’re in a bad mindset or something. And there’s a lot of physics that go into snowboarding that I don’t think…I think people just think we throw our bodies around and just land somehow. I mean when you really break it down, there’s a lot to it.
SHAUNA LAKE: What is something that people would be very surprised to know about you?
SAGE KOTSENBURG: I feel like there’s a lot of stuff people don’t know about me, but I have twitches that when I get stressed out I have all these twitches that come up.
SHAUNA LAKE: Like before you compete do you get them?
SAGE KOTSENBURG: I mean it’s like a subset of Tourette’s, but they only, they come up really bad when I’m just competing and you can tell I’m really stressed out when I’m doing them a lot because that’s when everyone’s like, “Sage is stressed out right now. I can tell.” And everyone’s like, “Why?” It’s like, “He’s twitching right now.”
SHAUNA LAKE: People who really know you?
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Yeah. They’re like, “You okay? You need anything?” I’m like, “Yeah I’m okay.” I’ll just be freaking out in my own zone. But that’s something I think people don’t really know about me.
SHAUNA LAKE: And where are you Sage in ten years? Do you ever think that far ahead?
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Yeah I definitely think that far ahead, but it always seems to change. I mean ten years ago I thought I would just be, I’d hopefully be a professional snowboarder, but now I have an Olympic gold medal.
SHAUNA LAKE: Since you did that so early…since you did that way ahead of schedule.
SAGE KOTSENBURG: So yeah in ten years I would still love to be snowboarding. I don’t know if I’ll be competing still, but I would love to just be in the sport still. I’m not sure too much of where I’d actually want to be, but I’d still like to be snowboarding and doing whatever I love at the time because it’s hard to see that much in the future. But I love snowboarding enough to know I’ll be doing it in ten years.
SHAUNA LAKE: Perfect note to end on, Sage thank you so much.
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Thank you so much.
SHAUNA LAKE: Sage so nice to get to know you better “Person 2 Person.”
SAGE KOTSENBURG: Yeah thank you.
SHAUNA LAKE: Thank you so much.
Follow Sage on Twitter @sagekotsenburg
-Written and produced by Leslie Tillotson
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)