16 February 2022

Snowboarding boy-wonder Valentino Guseli to enjoy a civic reception on return from first Olympics

| Max O'Driscoll
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Snowboarder Valentino Guseli

The Narooma Business Chamber has organised a civic reception for Olympic snowboarder Valentino Guseli tonight (16 February). Photo: Pabs Visions.

Dalmeny snowboarding prodigy Valentino Guseli will receive a hero’s welcome on return from his first Olympics in Beijing tonight (16 February). The Narooma Business Chamber has organised a civic reception for their hometown hero.

The 16-year-old finished in sixth in the halfpipe event, closely behind the halfpipe’s most decorated male snowboarder Shaun White and Australian silver-medalist Scotty James.

The performance is just another chapter in a whirlwind 13 months for young Guseli, who in January last year broke the world record for the highest air out of halfpipe at 24 feet. He did it when he was 15.

There was concern in October Guseli would miss the Winter Olympics altogether when he suffered a nasty fall at the Stomping Ground Projects snow park in Switzerland.

For mum Kristen Guseli, watching her boy on the biggest stage winter sports has to offer was “so surreal, but then also just so normal”.

Guseli scored 75.75, 79.75 and 79.75 over his three runs. Consensus is the 16-year-old was adjudicated harshly at his first Games.

“I was really encouraged about how he accepted the result. He’s known from a very young age in a judged sport that you have to accept the judges’ decision whether you agree with it or not,” said Ms Guseli.

“I think to me it was really impressive to see him take that in his stride and potentially he’s got many more Olympics to come if he’s anything like Shaun White who signed off on his fifth Olympics after starting around the same age that Valentino is now.”

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One would think that after an Olympics, there would be time for rest. For young Guseli, the training hasn’t stopped and the fire inside is burning brighter than ever ahead of his next round of major events.

“He pulled out of the house at 6:30 this morning to go to the airbag and has been jumping for a few hours already,” said Ms Guseli.

“He’s only here for a short time. He’s going back overseas to go onto the World Cup tour for the slopestyle discipline now.”

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Utilising the outdoor space at Narooma Golf Club, the event will begin at 6:00 pm tonight. Organisers want “as many locals as possible” to show up and show their support for Guseli. They are asking guests to bring something to sit on.

“He is very much looking forward to it. It will be nice for him to see and be able to meet and greet so many people that have gotten behind him,” said Ms Guseli.

“The sense in the community has been overwhelming. So supportive and so encouraging, and he doesn’t take that for granted for a second and neither do we.”

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