South Coast Snowboarding sensation, Valentino Guseli, has been taken home three gongs at the 2023 Snow Australia Awards in Melbourne last night (Thursday April 27) with the South East’s Josie Baff bringing home two.
The awards night celebrated the best snowsport athletes and performances of the 2022/23 season.
18-year-old Guseli was a stand out, winning three award categories.
With two snowboard park & pipe crystal globes, six world cup podium results and a world championships silver medal in the snowboard halfpipe, the South Coast athlete was celebrated for his history-making season.
Guseli jointly won Male Athlete of the Year (Olympic Discipline – SB Park & Pipe) alongside freestyle skiing world championship silver and bronze medallist Matt Graham.
He also won Junior Athlete of the Year alongside snowboard cross world championship silver medallists and junior world champion Josie Baff, a 20-year-old from Cooma, who also won the Snow Australia Female Athlete of The Year (Olympic Disciplines – Snowboard Cross).
“It’s really awesome, the calibre for Female Athlete of the Year was just absolutely outstanding this year,” Baff told Snow Australia.
Finally, Guseli won the prestigious Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin Outstanding Achievement Award as the first snowboarder in history to achieve world cup medals in all three park and pipe disciplines in a single season, earning him the overall Park and Pipe Crystal Globe, and Big Air Crystal Globe, while finishing second in the world rankings for snowboard halfpipe and third in slopestyle.
“I’m super stoked to have won all three awards, especially the Athlete of The Year Award, that’s been a dream of mine for a very long time and I’m thrilled to have finally won it,” Guseli told East Coast Radio.
“I’ve been going to the Snow Australia Awards every year for about five years and I’ve seen all these great athletes receive the award like Scotty James, Jarryd Hughes, Torah Bright and I just always wanted to put my name up there with those guys and I’m pretty happy to have done so,” the 18-year-old said.
“Huge thanks to my family, my grandparents on both sides, my parents and my sister, they’ve all done so much for me.”
While Athlete of the year was the award the teenage yearned for, he says he is also incredibly honoured to receive the Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin Outstanding Achievement Award.
Alex Pullin, nicknamed ‘Chumpy’, was an Australian snowboarder who competed at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics. He drowned on the Gold Coast in Queensland, at the age of 32 in 2020. Pullin is survived by his partner Ellidy Pullin, who gave birth to their daughter, Minnie, conceived by in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in October 2021.
“I don’t know how many people are familiar with who ‘Chumpy’ was but he was one of the people who paved the way for Australian snow sport athletes and showed that it’s possible to be successful, coming from a country that wasn’t very well known for having winter athletes,” Guseli said.
“I was lucky enough to meet him when I was six in New Zealand which was pretty crazy, it was a long time ago but I remember just being super star struck, because he was one of the GOATS (greatest of all time) and just a really great guy, who had time for everybody,” the teenager went on.
“Me and my dad had dinner with him and he was just so humble and friendly, he will always be remembered.
“Chumpy was a great guy and I just want to make him proud.”
Images: Snow Australia, Kristen Guseli