Noah Avallone, who will turn 16 on May 16, returned briefly to Montauk recently after a busy three weeks during which he won major open snowboarding events in New Hampshire, Vermont, Colorado, and New Jersey.
A sophomore at the Stratton Mountain School, in Vermont, who is about to enter his second year as a member of the U.S. Snowboard rookie halfpipe team, the curly-haired redhead has won national surfing championships, but he’s focused on snowboarding now, on the halfpipe and slopestyle events in particular, so that he can continue to excel and represent the U.S. team three years hence in the Winter Olympics.
There wasn’t much snow in the East this winter, so Avallone rode the rails, resulting in a rail jam win at the U.S.A. Snowboard and Freeski Association Nationals at Colorado’s Copper Mountain at the beginning of April. It was the first time he had competed in a snowboard open division, his father, Mike, said during a recent conversation at their house on Navy Road.
Before facing the Nationals’ 22-foot halfpipe slopes, Avallone won the hip section — an event in which contestants who have soared upward from a quarterpipe adjust their boards in the air before descending another quarterpipe along a different line — at Loon Mountain’s Last Call in Lincoln, N.H. And he had had fun, he said, at the Homesick convocation of U.S. open competitors at Stratton, winning in the open downhill and taking third in the retro halfpipe.
Once home, Avallone won the Burton Mystery Series banked slalom event at American Dream’s indoor Big Snow course in East Rutherford, N.J. Big Snow is the only indoor ski slope in the country.
He also had three top-five finishes in U.S. Revolution Tour and NorAm events, one of which was in Canada, and competed in his first World Cup events at the beginning of the season, at Copper Mountain and at Mammoth Mountain in California.
Asked about halfpipe runs, Avallone, who was wearing a colorful knit wool cap, said, “Yes, you’re on the edge. You’re going as fast as you can across two walls and going as big as you can without any room for error. You have to land perfectly — you don’t want to land on the deck.”
As for turning pro, “he’s essentially a pro now, though he’s only 15,” said Mike Avallone, who added that “he’s been competing against pros and has been getting good results. He’s got one more year on the rookie team — it’s a two-year commitment. His goal is to get on the pro team, which will give him the best chance to get on the [four-man] Olympic team.”
He’s definitely on the radar: The U.S.’s Olympic halfpipe team’s coach JJ Thomas has worked with him, as has Danny Kass, the U.S. rookie team’s coach, and Ross Powers, his coach at the Stratton Mountain School, all of them Olympic medalists.
Surfing still beckons, though because he’s continuing to train for snowboard competitions and traveling, Avallone has had to turn down invitations to major longboarding contests, among them the Mexi Log Fest in La Saladita, Mexico, and the Loggerhead Classic in Jacksonville, Fla., an event in which Montauk friends of his, Chase Lieder and Tucker and Chloe Coleman, competed the other day.
“He can’t be in two places at once,” Mike Avallone said. “Noah’s always been competitive in all aspects of snowboarding and surfing, but you have to make a decision. . . . Noah snowboards 100-plus days a year, half of them out west. All the travel, as you can imagine, is expensive and time-consuming, which causes him to miss a lot of school. His main sponsor is Neon Wave, in Rochester, and he gets gear from a dozen or so snowboarding and surfing companies, which we’re most grateful for. But we’re always looking for additional financial support.”
The question at the moment, though, is whether to stay in the East or go to the West permanently, to where the full-size halfpipes and big slopestyle jumps are. Meanwhile, Avallone, a former national longboard champion, plans to give surfing lessons at Ditch Plain this summer so that he can continue pursuing his Olympic dreams.