A Vermont man will help determine the medalists in some of the most thrilling events at the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Connor Manning, a native of Underhill, will serve as one of only a small handful of judges responsible for scoring athletes in the freestyle snowboarding events of Big Air, Half-pipe, and Slopestyle.
“I can’t wait to get there with the world’s best,” Manning said of his upcoming trip to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Manning travels the world as a top judge for snowboarding competitions, evaluating difficulty, amplitude, execution, and variety of tricks.
The sport’s governing body has him working at the upcoming Winter Games as the U.S. judge for the three freestyle events.
“For me, this was one of the goals I’ve had since I got into snowboard judging—to make it to the top,” Manning told NBC 10 Boston. “So it’s a goal achieved, and dream come true.”
Manning said he grew up riding at Smuggler’s Notch and Stowe Mountain Resort, and used to compete himself. However, following an injury, he said he started focusing on judging. He still enjoys riding, especially when in his home state.
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“It’s always trying to be objective,” Manning said of his work as a snowboarding judge. “I don’t really even think about nationalities or who’s dropping in. It’s a bib number for us. You don’t want to have any biases towards anything like that, because if you do, you’re kind of harshing someone else’s dream.”
And for Olympic fans who’ll watch along from home, Manning predicted snowboarding spectacles on TV that’ll wow the world.
“I expect an incredibly entertaining show this year,” Manning said.
Inside the Mt. Ellen terrain park at Sugarbush Resort Monday, high school snowboarder Seph Niquette of Williston said he is excited to watch the Olympics, especially knowing that Manning and athletes from his home state, including West Dover’s Kelly Clark, will be there.
“Vermont is going to be well-represented, and I love that,” Niquette said.