Puyallup Tribal snowboarder makes national splash

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Devon Bryan may only be 12 years old, but there’s obviously not a lot of fear in this youngster. Flying down the mountainside at Snowbird Mountain Resort in Utah, the Puyallup Tribal member got things started at 11,068 feet. Photo courtesy of Nancy Haack

If you are interested in the world of international snow sports, or just pay attention to successful athletes from the Tacoma area, we have a name that you’re going to want to keep an eye out for in the years to come. His name is Devon Bryan, and he’s fast-becoming a star on the national snowboarding scene. However, we’re not talking about the controlled confines of the half-pipe and big air snowboard scenes.

No, this 12-year old kid drops in at the top of mountains and finds his own way down.

It’s called “freeriding” in the world of snowboarding, and you’d better pay attention as it’s becoming more popular with every snowy season. While it’s not an Olympic event yet, the international scene boasts some of the most popular snowboarders around, such as Travis Rice and Jeremy Jones. If you’ve ever seen an iconic Warren Miller movie with snowboarders in it, you’re bound to have seen these intense athletes flying through the air and down the mountain side.

Bryan celebrates with his coach, Nater Youngchild, and proud mother, Nancy Haack. The second-place trophy represents his 12 to 14-year old age group finish, while the third-place trophy represents a bronze finish in the overall standings. Bryan is the leading snowboarder in the 12-14 division in the Pacific Northwest. Keep your eyes peeled on what this kid has in store next time down the mountain. Photo courtesy of Nancy Haack

While the legendary Mr. Miller has passed away, his snowy, film work will continue through the generations. Don’t be surprised if you happen to see Devon Bryan in one of these flicks down the road. The kid is good, and he’s got a drive that is already pushing him into the elite levels of the sport.

The son of Puyallup Tribal Councilmember Annette Bryan and Nancy Haack, Bryan has just returned from 2018 North American Junior Freeride Championships at Snowbird Mountain Resort in Utah. Blazing his way down the mountainside from 11,068 feet, Bryan represented the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association’s (IFSA) Pacific Northwest Region with reckless abandon.

A sixth-grader at Meeker Middle School, Bryan would go on to capture second place in the 12 to 14 age bracket of the Junior Nationals. When the final numbers were tallied, Bryan would also go on to finish third in the overall standings, which include 15 to 18-year olds.

Bryan is currently the top-ranked freeride snowboarder in the Pacific Northwest region with a whopping 3,466 IFSA points through five sanctioned competitions this year.

It must be quite the mental load on a youngster, trying to maintain their grades, while travelling all over the world chasing mountainside powder.

“He’s gets a little stressed out sometimes,” said Haack. “But, usually he’s just stoked to be up on the mountain. It’s where his heart is and it’s what he wants to do for the rest of his life. That’s where he wants to be. Way up there as high as he can get.”

The sport can be a big test of endurance to get up to a prime starting point. Things get a little more wild on the way back down. Photo courtesy of Nancy Haack

So far, Bryan has been able to maintain his grades while spending a considerable amount of time on the road. He’s kept his focus with the support of his snowboarding coach Nater Youngchild, as well as the watchful eye of his family. The folks at Meeker Middle School have also gotten behind their snowboard prodigy by working out homework assignments to keep him on track. 

However, the classroom may soon be in the rear view mirror for Bryan, as he has been hoping to switch to home schooling to go along with a snowboarding schedule that will be taking him to the mountains of Argentina and New Zealand before the year is through. While nothing has been decided upon, Bryan’s third-place finish at the Junior Nationals fulfilled a home school goal. He was told that if he got a top-three finish, home school was going to be on the table.

Bryan is a member of the Puyallup Tribe and is proud to carry his heritage with him wherever he may roam.

“He wants to get a Volkswagen van and travel to all the mountains he can,” said Nancy Haack. “I told him, you’re still only 12 years old honey.”

At the moment, Bryan may need a ride to get to all of those mountains, but once he gets there you can leave the riding to the kid. Just give a wave when he’s flying by.

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