Winter is coming, and along with it, the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. That gives us the perfect excuse to get to know a little bit more about Team USA pro slopestyle snowboarder Ryan Stassel. This will be the 25-year-old's second Olympics, and he came to play. You might say he was born for this, since he's been boarding from an early age.
But there's so much more to know about the man whose friends call him "Razzle Dazzle." He's also an Alaskan fisherman with a love for photography, and he knows how to win over a crowd at karaoke. Read on to find out what we might be seeing on his Instagram Story as we cheer him on during the Olympics, with eight fun facts directly from Ryan and the US Olympic Committee.
This Isn't Ryan's First Trip Down the Mountain
Ryan competed with Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia. There, he finished 14th in slopestyle. He took home the gold at the 2015 World Championship Experience in slopestyle and won sixth place overall in the 2017 FIS World Cup Standings. To keep up his energy, he says he eats more than 3,500 calories each day to maintain his bodyweight while training!
He's Been Snowboarding Since Kindergarten, but the X Games Inspired Him to Compete as a Pro
"I first started snowboarding when I was in kindergarten," Ryan said. "I would hop on the shuttle every other day and head up to our little resort that was in town. It was more a hill with a lift and a towrope, but it was definitely a lot of fun. I can't quite remember who the first person was that taught me to ride, but the two that really got me going and pushing the limits were Dylan Omlin and Jeremy Puckett . . . thanks, guys!"
Ryan's earliest memory of competitive snowboarding is watching the X Games as a child. "All I was doing [at 7 years old] was going fast and turning down the hill," Ryan said. "At the time, I didn't even know flips and tricks were actually a thing on a snowboard. What made me want to start doing tricks and competing was when I watched the X Games [that year]. I was obsessed! From then on, all I did was try to do flips and go as big as I could."
It was all downhill from there for Ryan, and in this case, that's a good thing.
Extreme Sports Are More Than Just His Job
Ryan spends as much of his time as humanly possible being active in the great outdoors. He's traveled all over North America, usually by himself, to do it. "Any time I can, I try to go climb a mountain peak or hike to a beautiful lake," he said. "I've been able to backpack, hike, and climb in many places, [including] Alaska, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and Canada."
He's Very Into Photography
Ryan does have one trusted travel companion: his camera. His love for the outdoors and seeing beautiful places has turned him into an amateur photographer. "It's made going out and seeing new places a lot of fun as you try and find different views and perspectives to capture the broad uniqueness of a landscape," Ryan said. "Plus you'll always have an amazing photo to remember it by."
He Was Born and Raised and Still Lives in Anchorage, AK
Ryan is a family man who has a tough time saying goodbye to his loved ones for the months and months he has to spend away while training. He's the middle child of five kids, with an an older brother, 27, and sister, 26, and two younger sisters, ages 21 and 19. He is super close with his siblings and has a special lady in his life, Kelsey Kasper.
He Runs the Family Commercial Fishing Business in His Off Time
Ryan and his siblings always spent their Summers working on their dad's commercial fishing set-net site. Now that they are older and understand the business more, they've started to take over and run it themselves. Ryan now spends his Summers as a commercial fisherman.
He's Been to South Korea Before, and He Loves Karaoke
The PyeongChang Games won't be Ryan's first trip to South Korea. He's been there twice before and never missed an opportunity to visit his favorite karaoke spots while in town. "Each time I've been to South Korea, I've gone out to the karaoke booths at least once," Ryan said.
What are his go-to songs? "'All Star' by Smash Mouth or 'Wrecking Ball' by Miley Cyrus," he said, of course, depending on the crowd.
Ryan Wants You to Know 1 Thing When You Watch Him Compete in PyeongChang
"The jumps are MUCH bigger than they look on TV," Ryan said.
Get to know Ryan and the other Olympic athletes more on Team USA's site. The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games kick off on Feb. 8.