HOOD RIVER, Ore. (KGW) — Snowboarder Sean FitzSimons finished 12th in the men’s slopestyle final in Beijing, falling short of his performance in the qualifying round the day before. The finals were held at 8 p.m. Sunday.
FitzSimons scored 29.48, 29.61 and 26.61 out of 100 in three runs, finishing last out of the dozen snowboarders who advanced to the final. Each of his runs suffered from a botched landing following a challenging spin maneuver, The Oregonian reported, although he was not injured in any of the landings.
The 21-year-old will have another shot at a medal next week, when he’s set to return for the big air competition starting at 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14.
FitzSimons is one of five athletes from Oregon competing at the Winter Olympics. You can watch him compete live on NBC or Peacock TV, which you can stream.
WATCH: Slopestyle qualifying round
FitzSimons, who is from Hood River, was raised on the snow by his parents Mike and Jennifer FitzSimons. Sean FitzSimons was wearing skis by the time he could walk.
“I think he was 16 months old the first time we had him on skis,” said Jennifer FitzSimons said.
His older brother, Tucker, and their friends tried out snowboarding, but they ultimately switched back to skiing. However, Sean FitzSimons would switch from skiing to snowboarding by the age of eight.
“Sean went back to snowboarding and never looked back,” his mom said.
Growing up, their family would spend hours at the mountain as Sean FitzSimons perfected his skills and grew love for the sport. His mom said there would be days when the family would be on the mountain from open to close.
“Just out there in all kinds of weather. They were definitely devoted,” she said.
When Sean FitzSimons isn’t snowboarding, he spends his time skateboarding in the city or kiteboarding on the Columbia River. Driving that passion to get better went beyond practice. It came from a competitive spirit and friendly competition with his brother.
Jennifer FitzSimons said that if they were each doing a trick, the other wouldn’t quit until they performed that trick too.
“They always push each other and just getting each other up to the mountain and wanting to be the first one’s there and the last one’s off the hill. They both share that intensity and that passion for it.” Jennifer said.
That passion has pushed Sean FitzSimons to be among the best snowboarders in the world. Shortly after placing first at the LAAX Open in Switzerland, he learned that he had made the U.S. Snowboard Team.
“Really proud of him and really happy for him, to see him reach this goal that he’s had for such a long time,” Jennifer FitzSimons said.
That pride can be felt in the city he was raised in. In the heart of downtown Hood River along Oak Street, there’s a large display in the front window of a skate and snow shop called Doug’s Hood River. Photos of Sean FitzSimons’ recent accomplishments and his time growing up fill the window of the shop.
“Anytime you have somebody that you know personally and somebody who is invested in a dream and actually reaches that dream,” said John Melesko, owner of Doug’s Hood River, “it really enlightens all of us and gives us all hope and realize that we can… strive and get somewhere.”
Melesko said Sean FitzSimons would frequent the shop. Even though Doug’s Hood River was not his official sponsor, the shop supported him.
“The boots that I believe he will be wearing in the Olympics did come from us at this store,” Melesko said. “He’s someone who only asks when he needs it. He doesn’t take advantage of that situation. He always just comes in, so you know it’s easy to help because he actually needs it, because he can do it.”
The sense of Hood River pride displayed on Oak Street overwhelms his mom as his family and hometown cheer on their local Olympian.
“It’s just been really moving,” Jennifer FitzSimons said while wiping away tears. “We’ve always just known how supportive our community is and I think it’s touched Sean his whole life.”