By Nathan Ham
Blowing Rock’s very own Luke Winkelmann competed in the qualifying round of X Games Aspen 2020 on Thursday and made a lot of folks in his hometown proud. Winkelmann finished 9th out of 16 competitors in the slopestyle event. The top five will go on to compete this weekend.
Winkelmann, 19, grew up snowboarding at Appalachian Ski Mtn. and was recently featured in a mini-documentary by Red Bull highlighting the up-and-coming star’s early snowboarding career and catching up with him on his home mountain.
In the documentary, Luke said he would be out on the slopes from about 2:30 p.m. until they turned the lights off.
“Coming home is super special. It’s definitely not the biggest mountain but it’s one of the most fun mountains I can still say I’ve ever been to. That’s special to me because every time I ride here I have a smile on my face,” said Luke.
Luke’s mother, Ashley, is a flight attendant and that has helped him out a lot being able to fly standby to training and competition locations.
Luke attended Watauga High School for a semester and then finished up his high school classes through an online program due to all of his travel for training and competitions.
Regardless of where Luke has competed across the globe, he always has that passion for coming back home back to where it all started when he was just a youngster at Blowing Rock Elementary.
“From where he’s been riding, to get home and get off plane and go to your local hill immediately and be excited about snowboarding somehwere that is tiny compared to the rest of the places he’s been, I feel like your average person would shun that off a little bit,” said J.P. Pardy, owner of Recess Skate & Snow in Boone.
Along with following Luke around his home slopes and talking about his family life, the video feature includes fellow competitors sharing their thoughts on Luke’s career, including a pair of Olympic gold-medal-winning snowboarders.
“I think Luke has, clearly a massive future in snowboarding,” said Red Gerard, who won gold at the 2018 Olympics in the slopestyle snowboarding competition. “He can do the filming and he can do the contests, too, so I really see him as an all-terrain vehicle.”
“I see Luke heading all the way to the top. He came from a tiny hill and now he’s got all the materials to put it all together in big slopestyle runs and big air contests so I think he’s only going to go up from here,” said Sage Kotsenburg, a slopestyle gold medalist in the 2014 Olympics.
Brock Crouch, another young snowboarder on the USA Ski & Snowboard team, agrees that Luke has a bright future in front of him.
“Luke is on his own path, he literally has everything right here. He was always so good, but I feel like last year he literally turned a switch on, like, boom,” said Crouch.
Appalachian Ski Mtn. has put together a special watch party weekend at the mountain for X Games Aspen 2020.
Appalachian Ski Mtn. is partnering with Red Bull to bring guests an immersive on-snow Winter X-Games viewing experience Friday, January 24 through Sunday, January 26. The watch party area will be set up at the bottom of lift #2 that will have a large inflatable screen, music from the Red Bull event car and more.
“It’s a way to get Luke’s home community together to cheer for him. Luke has been a huge inspiration to the young generation of riders around here,” said Brenda Speckmann, co-owner of Appalachian Ski Mtn. “Luke had obvious talent at a really young age and he was here from morning until night all the time and he would catch your attention anytime you could watch him in the park or on the snow. He has worked really hard and we’re all very proud.”
Guests in attendance will even have an opportunity to win one of two Burton Snowboards that have been autographed by Luke Winkelmann. Be sure to stop in at the Alpine Ski Shop throughout the weekend to get raffle tickets for giveaways and the signed snowboard.
The mini-documentary about Luke Winkelmann can be seen here.
Next up on Winkelmann’s competition schedule will be the Dew Tour in Copper Mountain, Colorado on February 7 and then the Burton U.S. Open in Vail, Colorado February 24-29. This will be Luke’s first run in the Dew Tour and his second run at the Burton U.S. Open.
Luke’s parents are Ashley and Eric Winkelmann of Blowing Rock. Luke’s grandparents are Melanie and Wink Winkelmann of Boone, Dianne Davant Moffitt of Banner Elk and Duff Armfield of Lenoir. His great grandmother is Harriet Davant of Blowing Rock and his sister is Kylie Winkelmann of Blowing Rock.
These photos are still shots taken from Red Bull’s video documentary
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