Humble & Hardworking
The Evolving Story of Freestyle Snowboarder Elijah Pyle
By Magdalena Bokowa
Elijah Pyle is breaking stereotypes. The 12-year-old freestyle snowboarder is top ten in the nation for Boardercross, 11th for slopestyle, 21st for half-pipe and, most importantly—he’s a straight A student.
“I feel like there are some stereotypes with athletes that they may not necessarily be the smartest,” begins Elijah. “That maybe they’re just gutsy, but that’s definitely not the case. I know a lot of people that are really great at sports but also really smart.”
To say Elijah has athletic ability may be an underestimate. His current extracurricular schedule has him off the couch and outside seven days a week. From Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay-Thai boxing to Mount Bachelor Sports Education Foundation programs (MBSEF), Elijah makes extra room for soccer, skateboarding and track in the warmer months. A seasoned athlete at a young age, he was third in the state last year for his age group in cross country running.
“Snowboard is definitely my favorite. You feel very good about yourself when you land a new trick. You’ll get a similar feeling in running but its not as strong… at least for me. I love that rush. Sponsored by Burton Northwest and local brands like Skjersaa’s, BlackStrap and Snoplanks, Elijah says “I’m the best at snowboarding, I think, so it’s less frustrating and I have more fun.”
Taking cues from his MBSEF coach Coggin Hill, Elijah says his process for landing new tricks is all in the visualization and motion, followed by lots of practice. “If you do something like land it wrong, then it’s important to just remember what you did, and try and do it better the next time without forgetting the other components in landing it. Just try and try, no matter how much it frustrates you. It’s a lot easier when you’re calm when trying to land a trick.”
Laughing, his dad Dan Pyle, points to Elijah and says “I’m laughing that he says he leaves it because this kid will work over and over again until he gets it right. His determination level is unbelievable. He just keeps going.
“He has a real passion for what he’s doing, for all of it,” he continues. “We threw a lot of things at the wall to see what would stick and…all of it did. He’s passionate, driven and hardworking, and the cool thing is that he’s the one driving the bus, directing us where to go. We’re just the Sherpa’s carrying the bags. Sometimes we forget that he’s only 12 because he acts so much older.”
And it’s easy to see why. The long haired, wide-eyed boy looks like the typical snowboarder on the outside: a bit fidgety, he alternates between standing and sitting during our interview, clearly full of energy. But there’s something different about Elijah and it shows in the way that he pauses when answering questions. He is thoughtful and considerate, an aura of wisdom surrounding him, exuding a calm confidence. This clearly shows in his answer about why education is important.
“Even though I really do love snowboarding and want to have a career in it, there’s definitely a big chance that it won’t work out and I’ll need academic success to be able to get the type of job I’d like to get.” When asked what that might be, he replies “some kind of work in the snowboarding industry but I’m not really sure yet.”
Perhaps this calmness stems from the almost daily dance he has with fear when performing tricks at high speeds which has him unruffled. With aspirations to go pro, Elijah Pyle is headed towards greatness, regardless of if he succeeds in snowboarding or soars in his academic career. “Having fun snowboarding is the main goal,” he says, “but I also want to be like the pros, guys like Austin Smith and Ben Ferguson, because they’re good at what they do, but they’re also really nice guys. I want to be like that, a nice guy.”