• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 57s

Family cheers on Alaskan competing in Olympics

By KTVA Alaska 8:22 PM February 5, 2014

Slopestyle snowboarder Ryan Stassel competes in Winter Games Wednesday at 9 p.m.

ANCHORAGE - Slopestyle snowboarding is a sport in which big air can lead to major glory.

For one Olympian on the cusp of that glory, his journey can be traced back to the snowy mountains just south of Anchorage. That’s where the Stassel family would spend cold afternoons out on Hilltop and Alyeska slopes.

“I think he was 9 years old when I dropped him off at Hilltop on a weekend and he asked to sign up for an event, and we did,” Ryan Stassel’s father Steven recalled. “When I picked him up that evening he had a gold medal around his neck.”

Little did Steven know, family recreation would become Ryan’s profession and that gold medal would offer a shimmering glimpse into the possibilities now within his reach.

“There’s lots of times that I had absolutely no idea how we could make something happen, but simply because I didn’t know at that time didn’t mean I wouldn’t try,” Steven said.

That family support, coupled with the sheer determination, would propel Ryan to the pinnacle of an athletic career — competing in the Winter Olympic Games.

“He would say, ‘when I go pro’ and we had no idea what it meant. But I guess we do now,” Steven said with a smile.

Ryan’s family said they were elated to learn he would be joining Team USA in Sochi, Russia, but they said the news came as no surprise.

“To make the Olympic team is a huge accomplishment, but it’s only another tiny step in his progression over all these years,” Steven said.

Hours before Ryan was set to begin shredding powder at Sochi for the inaugural slopestyle snowboarding competition, Ryan’s younger sisters Emily and Allison did the same with adaptive sports program Challenge Alaska.

“He just really got me outside and able to enjoy snowboarding,” Allison said.

Allison followed the first tracks left by Ryan into competitive snowboarding. Her brother’s journey has taught her an invaluable lesson, she said.

“You’re not always going to be the best, but you can get there,” Allison said. “You just have to really work on it and be able to move past the little things.”

And what better proof than Ryan’s own story — when you wipe out, dust off the snow and continue to grind, and there’s no telling what heights you might reach.

Latest Stories

  • Weather

    Evening News Weather, May 22

    by KTVA Weather on May 22, 21:49

    Kenai Peninsula/Prince William Sound Turning cloudy with scattered showers except for eastern areas like Cordova and Valdez. Wind will increase to up to 20 mph in the afternoon. 30 mph for Turnagain Arm and exposed areas.   Southeast Increasing clouds with possible isolated showers and thunderstorms for all areas.   Interior/North Slope Even warmer for interior […]

  • News

    Alaska Red Cross volunteer heads to Nepal

    by Heather Hintze on May 22, 20:29

    Ellie Rubenstein has six weeks of gear crammed into just two large bags. She’s the first American Red Cross volunteer from Alaska to go to Nepal. “I’m excited, humbled, energized. It’s going to be chaotic, hectic, very fulfilling,” Rubenstein said. She found out on her 27th birthday, just one week ago, that she would be […]

  • News

    Hooligan fishing causes Seward Highway danger concern

    by Bonney Bowman on May 22, 20:20

    Alaskans driving the Seward Highway this holiday weekend might notice some extra safety precautions around a popular fishing spot. The hooligan fishery at 20 Mile River is growing in popularity, which means more cars and people along the side of the road. Fishermen say they’ve seen a number of close calls when people dart out into […]

  • News

    Alaskans testify on proposed budget

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 22, 17:48

    Alaskans got a chance to sound off on the state budget Friday, and many say they hoped state legislators were listening. The House Finance Committee held a public hearing on the latest budget proposal, House Bill 2001. Restoring funding cuts to public education was one theme heard repeatedly. Majority Republicans and Minority Democrats in the House […]

  • Lifestyle

    Heroin Hits Home: “If you see something, say something”

    by Daysha Eaton / KYUK Radio on May 22, 16:59

    This story originates from KYUK Public Media and was published with permission. BETHEL — Federal officials say they intercepted nearly ten times as much heroin coming into Alaska in 2014 than compared to 2013. State law enforcement officials say heroin gets into Bethel mainly on low-security, small airline passenger flights. This is the final story in a […]

  • Crime

    Mother pleads not guilty to assaulting child on plane

    by Associated Press on May 22, 15:49

    A mother is pleading not guilty to allegations that she physically and verbally assaulted her 15-month-old daughter during an Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage, Alaska, to Honolulu. A criminal complaint says Samantha Leialoha Watanabe cursed at the toddler, smacked her in the back of the head, pinched her and pulled out bits of her hair […]

  • News

    Gov. signs second disaster declaration as flooding keeps Dalton Highway closed

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 22, 15:42

    After declaring a state disaster in April over unprecedented flooding on the Dalton Highway, Gov. Bill Walker signed a second disaster proclamation Friday in Deadhorse for the entire North Slope Borough. In a statement issued Friday by the Governor’s Office, Walker elaborates on why the second declaration is needed: “I issued my first disaster declaration […]

  • Lifestyle

    Alaska tentative choice for long-range US radar system

    by Associated Press on May 22, 15:21

    The U.S. Department of Defense has tentatively identified an Air Force station in Alaska is its preferred location for a radar system to track airborne missile threats. Members of Alaska’s congressional delegation lauded the choice of Clear Air Force Station, near Anderson, in interior Alaska, as the potential location for the long-range radar system. U.S. […]