Sun Peaks resident Nayte Brown is back on his home turf this fall after spending the season training and competing abroad, with his first national-level snowboard victory to show for his efforts.
The 16 year old won slopestyle gold and scored the most points overall in his U18 category earlier this month at the 2022 Freestyle Nationals in Cardrona, New Zealand.
“Before this, all of my medals had been in provincial events, so it was really cool to be on the podium for a national competition on the other side of the world,” he said.
Brown has been competing since age 12, when he started entering local rail jam events. He bagged his first provincial slopestyle competition medal when he was 13, and by winter 2021 Brown was competing in national events like the Air Nation Freestyle Tour.
He’s made steady progress ever since, leading up to his biggest win yet in New Zealand.
This was Brown’s first year training and competing in the southern hemisphere, where he lived in Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island and rode at nearby Cardrona Alpine Resort — a famous hotspot for professional snow-sport athletes.
“I had access to a proper trampoline park the whole time, so it really helped with my air awareness, and it was just so fun to practice and hang out there during my free time. The jumps at Cardrona are way bigger as well, so being able to get familiar with them is a huge benefit that I can’t quite get up here [in Sun Peaks],” Brown said.
“Being around that level of riding was super cool and made me push myself more, especially when [a professional snowboarder] like Mark McMorris or Dusty Henricksen was riding right behind me!”
Brown credits the Sun Peaks community for getting him this far and said he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. His family moved up the mountain from Kamloops when he was 10, lured to the resort community by the small-town feel and unique opportunities for Nayte and his brother. He was a regular at the resort most weekends before that too, learning to snowboard at age four.
Brown joined the Sun Peaks Freestyle Club when it first started and said he still loves riding with the team. He found shop sponsorship to help with gear, including The Truth Skate & Snow in Kamloops and most recently Salomon, 686 and SPY.
He said the sponsorships are helpful because he usually breaks a couple boards each year, likely because of his go-to trick, tamedog (a front flip sprung off the nose of his board).
South of the equator, Brown found the competitive environment largely the same as in B.C.
“Everyone is always super chill and nice at [competitions] and it didn’t change over there,” he said. “The only real difference was that the skiers competed on the same course at the same time as the snowboarders. Up here, skiers and boarders have separate event schedules.”
In addition to catching up on fresh tracks, Brown’s got his sights set on both the B.C. and Canada Winter Games this winter. His goal is to place in the top 15 for slopestyle in the events, as well as nailing down his backside 1080’s.
Next summer, he’s planning to go back to New Zealand for another year of back-to-back winters.
“My happy place is in the mountains on my snowboard, so I want to spend as much of my time as possible doing what I love,” Brown said. “I’ll take cold weather over hot weather any day.”