Norway’s snowboarding prodigy: Teen Marcus Kleveland earns World Cup win

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

 Photo: Fredrikherheim / Wikimedia Commons Marcus Kleveland is landing tricks that only a handful of athletes have ever done.

Photo: Fredrikherheim / Wikimedia Commons
Marcus Kleveland is landing tricks that only a handful of athletes have ever done.

It was at the age of three on the mountains in his home of Dombås that Marcus Kleveland first tried snowboarding. Within the decade, the Norwegian would go on to land his first double corks at 11 and become the youngest rider ever to land a triple cork 1440 at 13.

At this point, it was clear that Kleveland was something of a prodigy. Inspired by his fellow Norwegian snowboarder Torstein Horgmo—who has won six X Games medals—Kleveland kept progressing, landing increasingly difficult tricks.

On Nov. 5, 2015, he landed a backside quad 1800 in Stubai, Austria, becoming the youngest and only the third ever to land a quad cork, joining the ranks of British Billy Morgan and Canadian Max Parrot.

“I’ve been thinking about this trick ever since Billy Morgan did it, and I haven’t really had the opportunity to try it because I haven’t had big enough jumps, but here it’s good enough… Learning a new trick in snowboarding is really fun, but being the third one to do it is awesome,” he said in a video from Snowboardforbundet.

Now, at 17 years old, Kleveland is quickly making a name for himself as one of the best snowboarders in the world.

To start off his second year on the Norwegian national team, Kleveland headed to Milan, Italy, for the start of the Snowboard Big Air World Cup season. As the only Norwegian to make it to the final, the teenager pulled off a backside triple cork 1620 for the first time in competition. With this trick, he earned 95.0 points in his final run for the best score of the day overall.

Together with his previous 93.0 point run, Kleveland surprised everyone by coming out as the clear winner with a whopping 188 points. It wasn’t a small margin, either: Kleveland topped the favorites—veterans Seppe Smits of Belgium and Mark McMorris of Canada—by 9.5 and 15 points, respectively.

“This is one of the biggest wins I have ever had. It’s been really great today. Winning in front of this crowd is just awesome,” he said to fis-ski.com. “It was a really good time although I had quite some hard times during training to land all those tricks. To put it down in the finals is amazing.”

This competition was the first stop on the FIS Super Series, which is part of the qualification process for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics—where Big Air will be included in the program for the first time.

“I would dare to say that Marcus is now breathing down the necks of the world’s best riders, and he is being seen as a threat as big as Mark McMorris when it comes to the top three spots in the biggest competitions,” said national team manager Thomas Harstad to VG. “It is the Olympics in a little over one year, and when we see the progression Marcus has had the last year, it looks very bright. He is the clear candidate for medals in both Big Air and Slopestyle,” he added.

While Kleveland was not on the initial list for the X Games Hafjell—the selection so far has been based on podium places in X Games Aspen and X Games Oslo last year—there is no doubt among snowboarding experts that he will be ready for the competition in Norway this March.

“Marcus will be invited. It would surprise me a lot if he weren’t invited to both X Games Aspen and X Games Norway. He is one of three in the world who has landed a quadruple cork. The tricks he did in Milan last weekend won X Games in Aspen last season,” said TV 2’s snowboarding expert, Jonas Greve to VG.

If Kleveland is able to keep up his success from Milan throughout the season, who knows what’s in store for the young snowboarder in the next couple of years!

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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