We decided to start something else you might see popping up on the website for an Athlete Spotlight.
We wanted to start it off with a few of our own in case you hadn't seen them before or wanted to know more about our team of people that we like to call "ATI Family." We forget exactly when this came about, but someone started using this as a hashtag on social media and it has stuck from that point forward. We thought it signified a lot of what we wanted to accomplish and the feeling we wanted when working with ATI to have, SO...ATI Family it was.
So....all that being said...we'd like to introduce Austin Nettleton!
Name: Austin Nettleton
Hometown: Queen City, Texas
Currently Residing: Lubbock, Texas
Disciplines: Boardercross and Rail Jam
2014 USASA Southwest Colorado Series Men's Jams Boardercross Champion
2015 USASA Southwest Colorado Series Men's Jams Boardercross Co-Champion
We sat down with Austin and got a little more insight on him.
So Austin, why don't you introduce yourself and what you do.
- Hey! Well, I'm currently a graduate student at Texas Tech University pursuing a Master of Arts in Sports Media. I'm the president of Texas Tech Ski and Snowboard and the founder of the Texas Tech Ski and Snowboard Competition Team, the first collegiate team of its kind in Texas. Basically, I'm just a man-child.
Haha speaking of "child", what age did you get into snowboarding?
- I started snowboarding when I was nine years old.
What really attracted you to snowboarding?
- I had always been a fan of the X Games throughout my childhood. I always loved watching action sports, especially snowboarding. My dad, who is a very avid skier, decided to capitalize on this when I was very young and introduced me to snowboarding when I was nine. He took me to Ski Apache in Ruidoso, New Mexico for a weekend and put me in snowboarding lessons. While I struggled a lot with it being my first time, I instantly fell in love with the sport the second I strapped my rental boots into my (very crappy) rental board. Heck after that weekend was over, I remember that I actually cried my eyes out when I had to return the board. I think it was then that my parents realized they had created a monster.
How many times do you get asked about being a snowboarder from Texas? I mean, Texas isn't exactly known for snow.. yet you are a champion in the sport.
- Oh man, ALL THE TIME! If I had a dime for every time I got asked that....let's just say I wouldn't even worry about being in college right now. I don't mind it though, because it usually leads to people really becoming interested in trying snowboarding, which makes it all the more better.
So, what made you choose Texas Tech as your school?
- Funny enough, what sealed the deal for me to choose Texas Tech (and stay here for graduate school) was its closeness to the mountains to be honest. I actually got offered scholarships from the University of Oklahoma, Texas A&M University and Mississippi State, but Texas Tech just stood out to me because I realized that I could be close to the mountains without having to pay ungodly out-of-state tuition fees. Boy did that pay off for me.
Definitely understandable! What is your current field of study?
- My current focus of study is on how sports media frames action sports cultures, especially snowboarding and how it impacts perceptions of audiences who do not exactly follow the sport closely. Basically, I want to see how the media portrays snowboarding culture to the mass audiences and see how those audiences perceive snowboarding.
Awesome! What sort of plans do you have for the upcoming snowboarding season?
- I have HUGE plans for this season! For one, now that the Texas Tech team is in the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association, the governing body for collegiate mountain sports. We're going to be traveling all over the nation, hoping to compete at the USCSA National Championships in Lake Placid, New York in March. So, that's definitely got my hands full. I also am training for the upcoming USASA Boardercross season. I've really been focusing on my weaknesses this off-season in hopes to become more competitive this season. My personal goal is to place in the top 10 in the nation in my age class at the USASA National Championships this year. I don't know how much longer I will be able to snowboard competitively so I have to train and compete like this is my final season of my racing career (which I know it will not, but it is good to have that mentality).
What would be your favorite place to train or practice?
- Oh gosh, this is definitely a tough one. I would have to say Wolf Creek in southern Colorado. Usually, if a resort or ski area has a terrain park I will spend all day there and not exactly work on my racing skills. But at Wolf Creek, there is no terrain park to distract me and the incredibly diverse terrain there allows me to really work on my technique and push my riding to new limits and also to build my confidence.
You seem to always be on the grind for your sport, how have you been involved this year already for your Texas Tech team?
- Getting us into the USCSA has definitely been an adventure, but getting us there has been my biggest success with the team yet. It was an added bonus being the first team from a Texas University to be accepted in the league. Now, my next challenge is to get us known across campus and the region. We have some insane talent on the team and they deserve to be recognized.
What competitions do you have your eyes on this year?
- There are a few, but none as much as a USASA Southwest Freeride Series, Southwest Showdown SBX Regional Championships. Last year, I suffered a very serious back injury during practice which ended my weekend, so this year I am out for blood. Last seasons sub-par performance, at least to my standards, left me with a sour taste in my mouth and a urge for redemption. I'm also eyeing the USCSA Rocky Mountain Conference Championships. We are going up against some very strong universities and colleges so it is going to be fun and really test my skills.
Well good luck this season, and thanks for chatting. Is there anyone you'd like to give a shout out to?
- I have to give a shout out to my parents first and foremost for introducing me to the sport and sacrificing everything for me so I can chase this crazy dream of mine. Also, gotta shout out everyone on the Texas Tech Ski and Snowboard team, especially Ryan Deen for really helping me get the team to the next level. More shout outs to my professors Dr. Justin Keene, Dr. Glenn Cummins and Chris Cook for their incredible support for the team. Ben Montecillo for being the team's advisor, Philip Howard and Troy's Ski Lubbock for their undying support for the team. Virtika Outerwear, 686, Spy Optic, Kaya Rader and EchoTours, Saga Outerwear, Pabst Blue Ribbon and caffeine....lots and lots of caffeine.
Last but certainly not least, BIG thanks to Ryne Dickens and ATI Clothing for giving me a shot to ride for them and supporting me for going on three and a half years. You took a huge chance with me being a snowboarder from Texas chasing a nearly impossible dream and have continued to stand right by my side through thick and thin, victories and defeats. From the bottom of my heart, thanks ATI Clothing. Here's to hopefully many more years together!