Growing up in the winter sports hub that is Breckenridge, Colorado, Eric Willett was on snow at an early age, but he didn’t begin competing until after high school — well after what is typical for pro snowboarders. Despite that, he rose quickly through the ranks and earned a silver medal at his first X Games appearance in 2010. In the years that followed, Willett was one of the circuit’s strongest slopestyle riders, winning X Games Europe (2010), the Burton U.S. Open (2011) and a pair of Dew Tour events (2011 and 2012).
Willett was a strong contender for the first-ever U.S. Olympic slopestyle team in 2014 but was beset with a season-ending back injury during the qualifying period. Since coming back from that injury, Willett has been attempting to return to slopestyle’s upper echelon. To that end, he spent time this past offseason learning triple corks, a trick that is practically considered a must-have for Olympic hopefuls.