Minghini racing toward the Olympics

Snowshoe native Bobby Minghini on the slopes during a boardercross competition. All the racing and competing is leading up to a possible spot on the USA Olympic team. Photo courtesy of Bobby Minghini
Snowshoe native Bobby Minghini on the slopes during a boardercross competition. All the racing and competing is leading up to a possible spot on the USA Olympic team. Photo courtesy of Bobby Minghini

To say that Snowshoe native Bobby Minghini was born to snowboard is definitely an understatement.

From a very young age Minghini took to the snow like a fish to water.

“I started skiing when I was like eighteen-months-old,” he said. “I switched from skiing when I was five to snowboarding, and I’ll ski occasionally, but not really. I’m a snowboarder now. I don’t even own a pair of skis.”

Minghini, 27, and his younger brother, Jarod, 25, began competing as snowboaders while they were still in school in Pocahontas County.

“I was pretty young [when I started competing] – around nine,” Minghini said. “There’s amateur competitions all around the country called USASA. I was competing, driving up north, taking days off from school ever since I was in elementary school.”

After graduating from Pocahontas County High School, the brothers moved to South Lake Tahoe, California.

The brothers advanced through the ranks and placed at the FIS World Cup, World Junior Championship, JABRA XJam, US Snowboardcross Championship and the X-Games.

In the beginning, Minghini competed in events where the boarders take the slopes one at a time. After a while, it got boring and he set his sights on boadercross – the snowboarding equivalent to motorcross.

“I race boardercross now,” he said. “We race six at a time. It’s like a motorcross style course with turns and jumps and doubles and triples and things like that. It tied it all together when boardercross came about. It was almost twelve years ago now when boardcross was included in the Olympics.”

The Olympics – the ultimate goal. With wins from several competitions around the world, both Minghinis threw their hats into the race for Sochi 2014.

In order to make the Olympic team, the Minghinis had to compete and place at World Cups, held around the world. At the first World Cup, in Austria, Jarod suffered a crash, eliminating him from the competition, and the Olympics.

“That happened before training right before the race on the day of the race,” Bobby said. “You do practice for an hour before the race, just to dial the course back in and that’s when it happened. The fog and snow came in, and he came up short on a jump.”

Jarod updated friends and family on Facebook, explaining that he tore his ACL, MCL, meniscus and had a significant fracture to the bottom of his femur.

With his brother out of the running this time around, Bobby knew he had to continue for both of them.

“There was no question that I wasn’t going to quit,” Minghini said. “It definitely gave me a little more to ride for, knowing that he isn’t going to be there and isn’t getting his chance. Really having to go for it and represent now for both of us, not just myself. Even though it’s not a team sport, we’ve kind of looked at it as a team. When one or the other did well, we both did well. Now with him not there, there’s definitely a little added pressure.”

Minghini earned himself a spot among the top 14 boardercrossers in the United States. The field will be narrowed down to four for the Olympic team.

“On the World Cup tour, you have to have been an American that earned starts on the World Cup tour through another tour called the North American Cup which I took second in overall last year,” he said. “The top three guys from that get a spot locked in and then the rest of the guys, it’s kind of based on points and results from the previous year.”

Minghini has three more races on the World Cup Tour before he finds out if he’ll make the Olympic team.

“I do a double header in Andora, that’s a country right above Spain,” he said. “Then, I drive from there to Switzerland and that’s the final race of the season. After Switzerland, on around the eighteenth of January, I will know.”

While he anxiously waits to hear, Minghini is staying focused on competing – and the future.

“There’s always nerves,” he said. “[They] obviously are going to be there, but I know I’ve put in the work and now it’s just time to do the races and see what happens. Nothing more I can do now except go to the race and go for it, and try to remember to have fun.”

If Minghini makes the Olympic team, he will travel to Sochi, Russia, for the Olympic games, February 7-23.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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