Valentino - The Hardest Working Snowboarder in the Park

Emma 02.04.2024

Valentino Guseli, the first Aussie snowboarder to achieve the remarkable feat of winning World Cup medals in halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air events all in one season, is not only an exceptional athlete but also an awesome individual. With a level-headed and an impressive ability to balance his personal and professional life, Valentino effortlessly navigates between continents, “popping home” from Europe to Australia in between competitions. Despite his impressive achievements, Valentino remains grounded, placing immense importance on his family. I had the pleasure of catching up with Valentino in Switzerland as he embarked on a freeriding adventure on the eve of his 19th birthday, a testament to his passion and dedication to his craft.

How was your season in a nutshell, Valentino?

“It’s been great. This season was jam packed with many ups and downs and triumphs. I started the season with an ankle injury which didn’t allow me to have the pre-season I would have liked. My ankle healed as I rode more so I got into the momentum of the first comps”.

How was Copper Mountain (and the early comps of this season) for you?

“I was super happy with my riding but I didn’t get the results I wanted. Then I went home for Christmas (to the NSW town of Dalmeny) and worked on the family business before heading to Laax where I got a 2nd and landed an NBD (never been done) in the finals”.

Tell me about the X-Games?

“I went into them feeling great but then I had a crash and felt really sore and unfortunately had to pull out”.

How were your post X-Games comps?

“The first halfpipe win after the X-Games was the best feeling ever, I put myself in a position where the pressure is on and in Calgary I landed my first one which put me in 1st place. Then I went home again, and spent time with my family. It was nice to have some time off”

Are you good with pressure?

“Sometimes I can use it and it helps but other times it really doesn’t help. I prefer to just cop it on the chin, keep pushing and be persistent and it does pay off”. Coming back for the last comp of the season, I had to get top 4 out of 16 in the finals to get the Crystal Globe for the 2nd year in a row. It was the best run of my life and put me on the podium. It was a super amazing feeling to back it up 2 years in a row”.

You’re travelling to Revelstoke, that’s a great idea to finish the season and have fun.

“Yeah, I can’t wait to go to Canada and film some shred, ride powder, do some jumps. Having a blast gives me my best riding and it’s important to take a break, you don’t want to overdo it. Sometimes less can be more, I don’t do it to the point where it feels like a job. Actually Shaun White said he felt something similar (in his doco),  that forced rests keep snowboarding fresh for him”.

Ed Leigh told me that in Laax (training in Switzerland) you are the first athlete there in the morning and the last to leave at night. Is that right?

“Yeah, I’ve done this since I was young, travelling with my dad, I’ve always pushed very hard to get to where I want to be and I take a lot of pride in being able to do that”. 

What do you like about the half pipe? 

“Going bigger than everyone else!  Amplitude is a big thing and I work on it constantly and cultivate it in my riding. Going big is something that is unmistakable. It’s so much cooler to go higher, it’s risky but super cool to have much more height in the air”.

What do you like about rails? 

“I love rails because they’re my weakness compared to jumps and half pipes. It’s awesome to find a rail in the park that you like and hike it over and over again to get them figured out. Some of the most fun is riding rails, like in Tignes (France) there was a cool rail so I just hiked it all day before the comp started. There was something pulling me towards it, my muscle memory benefited from so many repetitions so I was able to progress at a quicker pace”. 

Who do you look up to in the snowboarding world?

“Torah Bright and Scotty James. What they’ve done for freestyle in Australia is massive, they really show what is possible especially when we don’t have Olympic-size half pipes in Australia, they’re both an amazing caliber of athlete”.

What is your favourite trick?

“A  switch backside indy grab. It’s a super cool trick and it’s very hard to do, it’s backwards,it’s like riding with your left side”.

What do you like doing when you’re home?

“I surf, I genuinely enjoy working on the family business (a plant nursery with a cafe ) and I’ve learnt to make coffees. It’s really cool to have a taste of reality and just get back into my music, I play guitar and sing. I actually want to do some gigs”.

You don’t ride Burton boards anymore?

“No, I changed to Zen snowboards in 2024. They are handmade in a low key, small factory in the middle of Switzerland, they have two models, a slopestyle-park board and a half pipe board, both really finely tuned and precise”.