Standing on the first podium for snowboard cross at the B.C. Games, Daniel Loban threw up his hands in what he calls a “shaka.”
The 15-year-old Lake Country resident earned a snowboarding silver medal during the event in Kamloops, Feb. 23, one of the first ever B.C. Games medals handed out in snowboard cross, a new sport this year.
“I was focused on who I was racing against probably more than I ever have in a race. Leading up to the race the day was pretty much perfect,” said Loban. “I was feeling super good going into finals, my friend was in the heat with me,” but that changed when Loban got the worst gate choice.
“We pulled out of the gates and my friend collided with another kid, so it was just me and first place, and I caught up to him really quickly; by the third turn I passed him,” he said.
“I was in first and feeling really good and I was coming to a part of the course that I knew the best… and he came right up the inside and kind of spooked me a little bit.”
Loban said he didn’t want to fall and get fourth so he slowed down, which allowed the other snowboarder to pass him and he was unable to catch up. “I just focused on finishing the race in a podium spot.”
As he stood on the podium, he had mixed feelings, the feeling of pride for achieving silver, but also the desire for gold.
“After the race I was really mad with myself. I was pretty upset, but after getting to know the kid who came first and the praise I got from coming second, I was pretty happy with it,” said Loban. “Being the first ever person to get silver, I’m now in the alumni of B.C. Games, which is awesome.”
Xander Appels, of Kelowna, also finished on the podium with bronze.
Other Lake Country athletes to compete in the games were Meah Clarke, who placed sixth in archery and Alyson Welliver, who won two gold in karate, according to the BC Games.
As for Loban, he comes from a family of skiers. It was his friend that got him into snowboarding about eight years ago.
“I liked the atmosphere around snowboarding a little bit more than skiing… it was a more chill transition,” he said.
What started as fun with his friend turned into a desire to compete when he joined the Big White Free Ride team. At 11, he entered his first competition in the RBC RIDERS in a time trial event.
He then bounced between slope style and snowboard cross events.
“Coming from the skier family background, I was more accustomed to going fast than I was doing all the spinning and flipping, it wasn’t until last year or the year before that I set my heart on boarder cross,” he said.
He looks up to snowboarders like Danny Davis, who pushed the sport in a stylistic way.
“I wanted to be able to do everything,” he said. After making the transition to boarder cross, Loban still wants to maintain a unique style with free riding.
As part of the B.C. Junior Provincial team, he trains at Big White Ski Resort every weekend.
Next year, he hopes to transition to the senior team. “As I get older and get a couple of World Cups done just competing, I’m just trying to follow the circuit and try to qualify for as many events as I can.”
He plans to keep training in boarder cross, but also wants to “just spend as much time on my board as I can.”
His next competition will be at SBX Nationals at Big White, March 21 to 26.
Proud mother Sharon Loban said her son lives and breathes the sport.
It was after the Penticton 2016 B.C. Winter Games that B.C. Snowboard approached the B.C. Games Society to include the snowboard cross into the multisport Games that occur every two years.
“It has been a great games’ experience for the athletes to the coaches,” said Cathy Astofooroff, executive director of Snowboard B.C. “It is a chance for great exposure to the sport reaching kids and parents who we may not have otherwise touched.”
Astofooroff said B.C. has a growing snowboard culture and the senior team feeds 80 per cent of the national snowboard cross team.
“Every event we do—whether it is clubs, camps, officials training or education—it all helps build an athletic pathway for athletes and coaches and the games are now definitely part of that pathway.”
When Loban’s not snowboarding at Big White, he’s hanging out with friends or doing homework, as a Grade 10 student at George Elliot Secondary, he finds English this semester to be challenging.
For Loban the “shaka” comes from surfers. “Shaka brah,” a gesture with the hands, is made after a surfer finishes a wave. He said he didn’t know what to do with his fingers, so he did it randomly.