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Jumping in front of the landmark CITGO sign in Boston. (Photo: Billie Weiss)

Featured Article

Westport's Olympic Snowboarder

Julia Marino Shreds the Slopes with Fitness, Diet, and Unconditional Love

The Beijing Winter Olympics are just a month away, at which point we trust you’ll be hunkered down rooting on one of Westport’s own.

Professional snowboarder Julia Marino has been traveling the world, training day and night with hopes of shredding the slopes and ascending the Olympic medal stand for the first time. The Westporter is a 7-time X-Games medalist who qualified for the 2018 Olympics but was disappointed in her performance in which she failed to medal. This time she’s taking a different approach, “In the last Olympics I put a lot of pressure on myself, this year I just want to have fun and do my best, whatever happens happens.”

Don’t take her laid back attitude for a lax work ethic. Julia is working her tail off and wants to crush the competition in both the Slopestyle (her signature event) and Big Air, but she wants to smell the proverbial roses on the chairlift. 

Like any Olympian, Julia’s story is one involving many years of sacrifice, determination, flexibility and perseverance. Only to hear her tell it, the sacrifice was not hers, but her parents. Even her discovering the sport goes back to her father.

Every year they took a family ski trip to Beaver Creek, Colorado and on one fateful day Julia broke her ski. Her dad, John, didn’t want to buy her another set of skis, so she started boarding and the rest is, as they say, history.

Since that day, John and Elaine have supported their daughter every arduous and expensive step of the way, “I’m super fortunate and lucky because I know there’s a lot of kids out there that don’t have this support, they really put everything into it, they saw I had a passion and talent for it… my parents are very selfless people,” says Julia.

John then picked up his career and took it on the road to Colorado to support Julia’s snowboarding dreams.“I’m so incredibly lucky to have him, its insane!” She enthuses. Heaping praise is apparently a Team Marino trait as John tells me, “I’m impressed and amazed by everything she’s accomplished… but I’m not surprised.”   

Between travel and training the 24 year-old rarely takes a day off. When we talked via Zoom she was competing 4,000 miles from home in Austria. Afterwards Julia returns to the US for Big Air Steamboat (Colorado), then straight to the Dew Tour in Copper Mountain, Colorado then north to Calgary. After a quick turn to Mammoth, California, she’s off to Lax, Switzerland before the X-Games in Aspen and the ‘big air’ of air travel; 6,000 miles to Beijing for the Winter Games. That’s more than 33,000 miles traveled over five countries in three months.

Similar to the Rocky Mountain altitude, it’s enough to take your breathe away. Julia actually prefers it, “It’s nice to stay in the competitive mindset and just bang it out all at once, then you can cruise with your friends and shred when it’s all over.” 

Until then, Julia will grind out each and every day to make sure her body can survive that gauntlet of competition and thrive within it. Snowboarders are far from the gym rats you’ll find in more traditional Olympic sports. Their work for the most part comes on the mountain, buckled into a board, breathing the mountain air.

But the body takes a pounding up there, so training is an essential component. Primarily in the off-season Julia spends five to six days a week in the gym for an hour a day, working on her body. 

Her routine is almost exclusively weight training to strengthen her legs and core, “When you land jumps you have to have your legs take the impact and snap right back, balance comes from your core.”

When snow is scarce Julia practices her jumps on a giant snowboarding air bag of sorts and further develops muscle memory by skateboarding whenever possible.

Lastly her training concerns recovery. Tired, sore muscles, jet lag, and sleep struggles are par for the Slopestyle course and Julia battles all three with StaminaPro patches, a product popular among professional athletes which reduces inflammation for a faster recovery. The world traveler also utilizes a specific ‘Immune Boost’ to adjust to different time zones and a ‘Power Sleep’ version as the name suggests. 

As for the strict diets you sometimes hear our Olympic heroes abide by, Julia passes. She eats as healthy as she can for someone who rarely knows what country she’s in. She doesn’t eat a lot of junk food (aside from her personal favorite Ben & Jerry’s) and if you’re looking for a quintessential Marino meal back home you’ll find it at her favorite, Chef’s Table. “I need 20/25 grams of protein and vegetables in every meal,” she explains, “so I go there and pack it all into one salad, I spent a lot of time and money there this summer!”

Julia typically chases snow in the summer but, like most of us, COVID travel restrictions put her professional pursuits on hold. The upside: she spent the entire summer in Westport in the house she grew up in. It’s there that mom and dad are reminded of their ultimate parenting success, as John told me, “As impressed as I am about the athlete she’s become, I’m far more impressed by the person she’s grown into.” 

Regardless of the outcome next month on the slopes of China, the Marino’s collective dedication and sacrifice has served them well. As for the chances of a Gold Medal, dad says one thing he’s learned is “If she visualizes doing something, I know it will happen.” So keep an eye on the networks of NBC next month!

  • Jumping in front of the landmark CITGO sign in Boston. (Photo: Billie Weiss)
  • Practicing for the Olympics in Austria. (Photo: Dasha Nosova)
  • Hanging upside.
  • Olympics course.
  • Travel to exotic locales.
  • A snowboarder's best friend.