Willie Borm, 13: TGR Grom Contest Winner
"My mom forgot to tell you that I'm also sponsored by Skull Candy," Willie Borm says. The day before, Willie's mom, Tammy, had recited the list of Willie's many sponsors: Salomon, Oakley, Dakine, Sick Stickz Poles, Pinewski's ski shop, and Rockstar Energy Drinks. Not bad for a kid who's just 13 years old and grew up hitting jumps on a 300-vertical-foot hill in Minnesota. This week, Willie won Teton Gravity Research's Grom Contest, which drew entries from over 30 kids under 17 all vying for a spot in the 2011 TGR movie. Willie won, which means he'll will be shooting with TGR film crews this winter, alongside the likes of Seth Morrison and Ian McIntosh.
"Are you even old enough to drink Rockstar?" I ask Willie. "My mom only lets me have one a day. Otherwise, I would probably drink three cans a day," he says. Even without the added caffeine, Willie is already bouncing off the walls. In July at Windells ski camp at Mt. Hood, Oregon, he learned to throw his first switch cork 9 and he can often be found practicing his tricks on a trampoline.
At four feet, eight inches tall, and barely pushing 90 pounds, Willie is a mini-me of his idol Sammy Carlson (they can sometimes be spotted in the same outfit head to toe). "I look up to Sammy a bunch," Willie says. "He's taught me so much about life and skiing. He has the best style."
Willie has been competing in slopestyle contests for five years now -- since he was seven years old. He's placed in the top 10 in park events at the Junior Olympics and last winter, he placed third at the Gatorade Free Flow tour's Midwestern stop, where he was up against guys aged 17 and 18.
"Besides the kid's raw talent and style at his age, Willie's personality is what caught my attention right away," says Jenny Naftulin, the alpine brand manager for Salomon, a company that spotted Willie when he was 11 and has been floating him gear ever since. "I liked how he presented himself, how he was with other skiers, and his general stoke for skiing."
This winter, Willie plans to do the Aspen Open and Dew Tour qualifiers and in five years, he says he hopes to be top three at X Games. But none of that can happen until the soon-to-be eighth grader finishes his homework.
"He's not allowed to ski until he gets his school work done," says his mom. "He missed 35 days of school last year for skiing, but he's still on the honor roll."