COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. (KDVR) — There were several possibilities, but Brian Rice’s nickname is a perfect fit.
“I walk in anywhere (in Summit County) and it’s ‘Flyin’ Brian,'” said Rice, a snowboarder who competes at the junior pro level.
You’ll find him soaring on his snowboard above the slopes at Copper Mountain Resort. Three years ago, Rice moved with his mother from Farmington, Michigan, to train part-time in Colorado.
The high school junior does his studies remotely. At age 16, snowboarding has become his full-time job.
“(It’s the) best job in the world if you ask me. You get to travel, try new foods and see new cultures. Yeah, I’m living the dream,” Rice said during a break in his training routine.
Rice’s dream is to become the first African American snowboarder to compete in the Winter Olympics. For him, it’s not a question of if, but when.
“That’s the way I’ve always approached everything,” Rice said. “It’s not if, it’s when. I think with that mindset you can get to where you want to be, and even further.”
Rice has already scored a spot in the top 10 of the U.S. junior rankings. He specializes in both Slopestyle and Big Air disciplines. At this point, he’s the only African American competing at that level. But Brian believes that may soon change.
“To see someone of color, out there doing his thing, having fun, and representing his country, I think that will push a lot of young African Americans and people of color to get out there and try something new,” Rice said.
This could lead to another nickname for the Olympic hopeful: “Inspiring Brian.”