Jake Pates is an American snowboarder who is competing in the halfpipe for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Pates, 19, of Eagle, Colorado, is making his Olympic debut during this year’s games. He advanced to the finals of the halfpipe contest along with his teammates, Shaun White, Chase Josey and Ben Ferguson. He landed a big second run to finish in the top 12.
“I was super happy to just land to clean one. Pretty nerve-racking not getting the first one down. You only get two. You’ve got to land that last one,” he told the Aspen Times after qualifying. He said he had to clear out all the distractions after the first run by listening to music. “I was definitely stressed going into the second run. I did a little bit of meditation at the top, put some good tunes in and got myself hyped up again.”
Here’s what you need to know about Jake Pates:
1. Pates, a Colorado Native, Began Snowboarding When He Was 8 & ‘Fell in Love With How Fun It Is’
Jake Pates competes during the halfpipe in Pyeongchang.
“My mother took me to a local hill when I was eight. She said it would be fun, and I’ve never loved anything more since,” he told NBC. “Once I felt the feeling of snowboarding, I fell in love with how fun it is. I am inspired by every aspect of snowboarding – the fun, the adrenaline, my friends and other snowboarders.”
Pates later began training with the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail in Colorado and earned a spot on U.S. snowboarding’s national rookie team in 2014, according to NBC Sports.
He gave his parents credit for helping him reach the Olympics and for allowing him to pursue a professional career in snowboarding. But he said he really does it for the fun.
“I don’t have anything to lose, and I’m just trying to have fun so I just wanted to have a good fun run,” Jakes Pates told Summit Daily after a December 2017 competition. “I just thought it’d be cool if I landed that trick last hit … I think it definitely comes down to wanting to have a level of fun out there. And I knew that if I landed that trick then it would have just felt really awesome.”
Pates, who grew up chasing his brother, Cole, on the mountain, told the Denver Post that he has been lucky to have his family by his side. Many of them, including his parents and siblings, are in South Korea supporting him.
His brother, Cole, is now a film major at the University of Colorado and his sister, Charlie Sue, is a high school senior who will be heading to Auburn University on a scholarship for horse reining.
His coach, Jeremy Forster, told the Denver Post that Pates has a “lot of commitment and determination,” and has earned his place on Team USA.
“He’s worked really hard for a really long time, and Breckenridge was just a huge event for him. He’s in the mix. This whole team, each of them bring their own style and creativity to the mix and he’s earned his position on this team,” Forster said.
2. He Won Gold Medals in Halfpipe & Slopestyle at the 2016 World Youth Olympics
GettyJake Pates and Chloe Kim with their gold medals at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2016.
Pates and fellow Olympian Chloe Kim shined together on the international stage in 2016 at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Pates took home gold medals in slopestyle and halfpipe. Kim also took home gold medals in both contests.
“This is insane,” Pates said after the medal wins. “It feels incredible. Wasn’t really expecting (to win) and I actually wasn’t even sure if I was going to do slopestyle, so I am really excited to walk away with gold.”
His family was by his side and he was able to get a preview of what it would be like to be at the Olympics.
“It was super cool. It was their first time to Norway so they’re liking it and it’s cool to have them around as support. It’s dope. This makes me super stoked. I’m just hoping I can get on that team and look forward to doing this all again.”
You can watch highlights from Pates’ Winter Youth Olympics performances below:
“The 2016 season was a huge one for Pates where he won double gold (slopestyle and halfpipe) at the Youth Olympic Games, and had two top-five finishes on the U.S. Grand Prix/FIS World Cup tour,” the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding team’s website says. “In 2014, Pates made a splash on the scene winning two Revolution tour stops, landing a fourth-place finish at the Burton European Open and a seventh-place finish at the Burton US Open in front of his hometown crowd. Pates continued his upward trajectory in 2015, winning two Revolution Tour stops in slopestyle along with a second-place finish in halfpipe, and top-ten finishes at both Sprint U.S. Grand Prix stops. ”
3. Pates Used a Surprising First Place Finish at the First Olympic Qualifier to Push His Way Onto Team USA’s Halfpipe Squad
Jake Pates in 2016.
Pates is in the midst of a breakout season that began with a surprising first place finish at the first Olympic qualifier in 2017 at Breckenridge. He put up a score of 97.33 with a a tail grab backside 1260 double.
“I felt like I was dreaming (when I saw the score), I don’t know, that was crazy,” Pates said, according to TeamUSA.org. “I don’t even really know what to say right now. This is insane.”
He added, “I never thought in a million years I’d have won this event today. All I wanted was to land that run. I’d been dreaming about that all week.”
You can watch his winning run below:
Pates then finished in fourth place at Snowmass in Colorado in January to secure his spot on the Olympic team.
“I’ve been watching all these guys since I was so young. Forming a friendly relationship with those dudes has made it less intimidating,” Pates told the Denver Post. “But they are still my idols. So it’s crazy when you look at them and think ‘I gotta compete against these dudes.’ That’s a stress factor for sure, but I try to block all that out and have some fun with it. One thing that has been molded into my brain is trying to have as much fun as I can. I just try to have fun, and that has seemed to work out pretty well,” Pates told the newspaper.
Pates made his X Games Aspen debut earlier this year and finished 8th in the halfpipe.
4. He Enjoys Fly Fishing, Skateboarding & Says His Attitude Is to ‘Train Constantly … Eat Well & Have Fun’
Pates told NBC Sports he just tries to “Train constantly on and off the mountain, eat well and have fun.”
“Life hasn’t really changed that much. I’m having fun and trying to enjoy it all. I’m trying not to get too caught up in it,” Pates told the Denver Post.
5. Pates & His USA Ski & Snowboard Teammates Made a Trip to Mexico to Build a Home for a Family in Need
Jake Pates during halfpipe qualification.
In 2016, Pates and his teammates from the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding team made a trip to Mexico to build a home for a family in need. Pates posted about the trip on Instagram, saying it was something he will never expect and an experience he couldn’t put into words.
“Earlier this month, 20 athletes representing the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Freeskiing and U.S. Snowboarding headed Tijuana, Mexico to build a home for a family in need,” the team’s website said. “This was the second year athletes have made the pilgrimage south, led by Hope Sports—a nonprofit founded by professional cyclist Guy East that helps promote personal growth and community among athletes through short-term service trips. Riders and skiers of all ages joined the trip—Olympic medalists, stars from the Rev Tour, Youth Olympic Game attendees and everyone in between.”
According to the team’s website, the home was built for “the Lopez Gonzalez family—mom Aldaneli, dad Juan Carlos and their adorable 3-year-old son Ian. The three lived in a small plywood shack with tarps stapled to the walls to keep out the cold and rain.”
Pates was also “representing the Youth Olympic Games as part of the Young Ambassador + Gold Program with the goal of promoting the Olympic values of friendship, respect and excellence.”