Colby Granstrom was born and raised in Lake Stevens.
As a two-year-old on the slopes of Stevens Pass, Colby Granstrom probably never dreamed he’d win the title of US national champion in slalom only 18 years later but that’s exactly what happened on the mountains in Winter Park, Colo. on Sunday, April 3.
Granstrom and his family, all from Lake Stevens, have grown up on the ski slopes and Colby competed in his first race when he was only five years old.
“At first it was just another fun sport, just like playing soccer and other sports. I also water-skied pretty competitively,” Granstrom said. “There was a time that I was getting pretty far in this and had to decide, ‘Where do I want to put all of my eggs?’ I decided to go with ski racing. It was just a lot of fun for me.”
At only eight years old, Granstrom won an event for kids 12 and under from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. At the age of 12, he won two gold medals at the Whistler Cup, a competition in Whistler, B.C., for kids 11-14 from around the world. From there it was onto the U.S. Development Team.
“There were 15 or 20 different countries competing. It was like the 12-year-old world championship,” he explained.
His skiing continued to improve and his career continued its slope to the top eventually landing him a spot on the U.S. C Team for the 2011 season.
Winning the slalom National Championship was quite a coup for Granstrom who had mainly been participating in Nor-Am and Europa Cup circuits.
In Winter Park he was now competing against the “big guys” like World Cup competitors and Olympians.
He was ranked sixth or seventh and so he did have a chance at winning but with all of the variables in skiing (i.e. wind and snow) anything could happen.
“I really wanted to ski well and get on the podium. I was skiing to win but I didn’t really believe that I was going to win,” Granstrom said. “I was trying to keep an open mind skiing my best.”
Granstrom was in fourth place after the first two slalom runs. During his second run he even defeated second runner-up and defending champion Tommy Ford by 1.33 seconds.
“I came down the finish and I knew it was a good run on the second run of the race. I came down and the crowd was pretty excited and I looked at the scoreboard, it said that I was first on the run and first in the race by a full second which is a lot in ski racing,” he explained. “I was kind of in shock and I went over to Tony Ford and he said, ‘you just won the race’. It was a good guess. It was kind of cool to hear him say it because he already knew what it felt like to win a national championship.”
When Granstrom’s name was announced as the winner he ran out to the finish area and held his skis in the air.
Because of his win at nationals, Granstrom will now be able to jump from the U.S. C Team to the U.S. B Team and compete in World Cup races next season.
“It gives me a lot of confidence for the next year and it gives me confidence to ski with the guys you watch on TV and at the Olympics,” he said. “I use the hope of a gold medal or any medal really to get me motivated to do my best.”
Granstrom went to Lake Stevens schools through seventh grade when he transferred to Homelink. When he is town he hangs out with family and friends and loves to fish on the lake when he’s not working out at Team Fitness.
“I just want to say thanks to my parents and to everyone in the community like Homelink and Team Fitness, teachers and everyone who helped along the way,” Granstrom said.