When he is not surfing, skateboarding or wakeboarding in Brazil, Noah Bethonico is honing his skills on the snow in Colorado.
The second youngest rider in the field, 16-year-old Bethonico finished 11th in the men’s snowboard cross competition on Monday in Villars Winter Park, narrowly missing out on reaching the semifinals as Brazil’s first Youth Olympic Games snowboarder.
Bethonico draws his inspiration from Isabel Clark Ribeiro, who achieved a ninth-place finish in women’s snowboard cross at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, Brazil’s best result at a Winter Games.
“She was my idol,” Bethonico said. “I always saw her to be the first Brazilian to be doing [snowboarding] and I was like ‘OK, that’s what I’m going to do’. But I want to do better than she did. I want to win a gold medal.”
Karl Petterson, president of the Brazil Snow Sports Federation, believes there is no reason why Bethonico cannot go far.
“Fourteen years ago [Isabel Ribeiro’s performance] is still a result we remember today across South America and I don’t see why Noah can’t obtain an even better result in a future Olympics,” Petterson said.
Bethonico’s path to Lausanne 2020 began thousands of miles from his coastal hometown of Florianopolis, Brazil. He first picked up a snowboard at the age of eight in Colorado.
He now takes school courses online and spends six-month spells between his home in Brazil and the International Snowboard Training Center in the US state.
“In October when the winter starts and the mountains start to open I stay there until there’s no snow left,” said Bethonico, whose hobbies of surfing, skateboarding and wakeboarding have helped his performances on the snow.
“They all translate to my snowboarding. Your stance, your movement, your position, everything,” he said. “I basically do anything where I can be active and get some adrenaline. I’m an adrenaline junkie.”
Bethonico has a 14-year-old brother, Zion, who is also a competitive snowboarder and has his sights set on the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon Province, Republic of Korea.
“I’m following his footsteps and I hope to really get to that point some day,” the younger Bethonico said. “By 2024 I’ll be 18 and probably be one of the oldest athletes with the most experience.”