Like many teenagers, Kaylie Buck’s life is a complex juggling act of commitments to keep and schedules to adhere by. Dig deeper though and you’ll soon find that unlike most teenagers, the sixteen-year-old Kaylie has national pride and Olympic aspirations on her mind every morning when she wakes up; so it goes without saying that Ms. Buck doesn’t exactly live the average teenage life.
Kaylie races for Team Canada on the NorAm Circuit but grew up on the slopes of HoliMont, where her parents had her on skis when she was only two-years-old. A love for winter was almost instantly instilled in Kaylie, and as her parents soon found out, a love of going fast followed suit.
At the age of eight, with her snowboarding father as inspiration, Kaylie decided that she wanted to trade in her skis for a snowboard. “I immediately fell in love with the sport and I still wanted the feelings of going fast like I had when I was ski racing,” Buck stated. “So, less than a year after learning how to snowboard, I decided to join the HoliMont Snowboard Race Team.”
ONE-ON-ONE WITH KAYLIE BUCK
DH: What do you love the most about snowboarding?
KB: After giving it a try, I was hooked. The things I love most about it are the feelings you get when you are flying through a course and the friendly, yet competitive environment around racing.
DH: What inspired you to dedicate such a large portion of your life to this type of competition?
KB: I think I was inspired to dedicate myself to such high level of competition after watching older athletes have success in the sport. Now some fellow competitors on the NorAm circuit, Megan Farrell and Darren Gardner, came out of the HoliMont program as well and have showed me what it takes to make it to the next level in the sport.
DH: Speaking of inspiration, it must take a lot of internal inspiration to maintain your school schedule, have a social life, and race on the NorAm Circuit.
KB: It is indeed difficult to maintain athletic, academic and social success, but because of my passion for the sport I have always found the discipline to balance my school work and training. Sometimes that could mean homework on the plane, reading in the car, and working online, but if I want to be traveling and competing, I know that I must continue my school work. My school has been very accommodating in helping me find alternative learning methods for continued success. As far as my social life goes, I have made many lifelong friendships in this sport, so maintaining those relationships is not hard as we are traveling and competing together. My friends at home have always been so supportive and encouraging towards me and I can always count on them to be cheering me on from home.
DH: Do you have any siblings? If so, do they race?
KB: I have an older brother named Cole (18) , who was a ski racer until age 14 when he decided to become a volunteer coach to help teach the younger ski racers about the sport.
DH: I'm assuming Chris Naugle coached you at HoliMont, correct? What was the one biggest thing that he helped you to realize about your riding and how to improve it?
KB: Chris Naugle was my coach at HoliMont for the past three seasons. To me, one of the most important things he taught me was about how to believe in myself and to always remember why we snowboard. He helped me develop a confidence for training and for racing that I have carried through with me. Naugle always reminds us about our passion for the sport and always helped us find time for fun, even while maintaining focus.
DH: So is it safe to say that HoliMont has been one of the pillars of your foundation in snowboarding success?
KB: HoliMont has helped me progress as a racer and as a person, by providing an atmosphere where I can learn and have fun at the same time. This has helped to maintain both my passion and interest for this amazing sport. I have also made lifelong friendships through the club and would consider HoliMont a second home.
DH: What is your favorite HoliMont memory? Your favorite run there?
KB: I don’t think I can choose just one favorite memory, but one that stands out would be my first race ever. I remember down the big start gate for the first time on my snowboard, Bruce Gardner giving the start cadence and going down the course. When I got to the bottom all the parents, friends and older riders were there to cheer me on and it was so much fun. After that, one of my favorite runs at HoliMont has always been Fall Line (the race slope). I also always love to cruise down Sunset.
DH: The next time you’re in Ellicottville, where are you going to eat?
KB: If I could pick anywhere to eat in Ellicottville, I would choose to go to Dina’s for dinner for some spaghetti and meatballs, and Watson’s Chocolates for dessert.
DH: And if you’re in the mood for a little retail therapy in town …
KB: It depends on what it is I am shopping for, but I would say I do visit Mud, Sweat n’ Gears.
DH: Spoken like a true race enthusiast. That has to be music to Miguel’s ears. Speaking of music … what’s the Top 5 on your playlist right now?
KB: 5 songs I love are: Don’t Stop Believing by Journey, Roar by Katy Perry, Hall of Fame by The Script, I’ll Show You by Justin Bieber, and Believe by Mumford & Sons.
DH: Any sponsors you want to give a shoutout to? What gear (board, boots, bindings) are you rocking right now?
KB: I do not have any sponsors yet but I am currently riding SG boards, on a VIST plate with F2 bindings. I ride in UPZ boots and I can always trust POC helmets to protect my head.
DH: Who's your snowboarding hero? Why?
KB: I don’t know if I really have a hero, but I would definitely say that my biggest mentor is Rich Evanoff. He has been my coach for the past season and really showed me the ropes of the sport. He has so much passion for snowboarding and he loves everything about it. En route to the World Cup, he had a shoulder injury that held him back. During his road to recovery he came to Ellicottville to coach and is now making a comeback on the NorAm tour. It is so inspiring to see my coach becoming my teammate and fellow competitor and I am so proud to have had him as a mentor.
DH: You'll be heading to the Czech Republic soon for the Jr. Worlds. Is this the first time you've been a part of that competition? What are you most looking forward to doing on this trip (besides winning)?
KB: This will be the first time I have competed in this type of competition. I am excited to see the difference in the level of competition on an international scale. I am looking forward to competing amongst the best junior snowboarders from around the world as well as getting to represent my country.
Editor’s Note: After this interview was conducted, Kaylie’s father, Steven Buck, reported that Kaylie rode in the World Jr Champs in Czech on February 20th, and placed 6th. This was the best result by a female North American rider in the last 10 years! Kaylie was also the youngest rider in the top 10. Congratulations Kaylie! And best wishes moving forward with your racing career.