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Trevor Jacob of the U.S. is a perfect fit for snowboard cross

Former halfpipe athlete, who boasts of having had several concussions and of jumping over moving trains, will take a carefree attitude to his Olympic debut Monday.

February 16, 2014|By Lisa Dillman
  • American Trevor Jacob takes a break between Sochi Olympics practice runs for the snowboard cross at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
American Trevor Jacob takes a break between Sochi Olympics practice runs… (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images )

SOCHI, Russia -- He stunned people last week at the Olympics when he talked about having more concussions than his age, seeming blissfully unconcerned.

There was the great leap over a moving train, while on a snowboard several years ago, much to the great displeasure of folks at Union Pacific.

Recently, he ignited the Internet with a stunt at Travis Pastrana's compound in Maryland, blasting off a massive ramp, into the sky, seemingly headed for trouble and "kicked off a tree" before landing safely.

"Before I get scared of things, I seem to end up being in the middle of it," Trevor Jacob said.

Could there possibly be a better person for men's snowboard cross?

"It's the perfect sport for him," said his father, Jerry. "It's not judged and his skills really apply to the sport. He's very competitive and he loves it. He likes to go fast. The combination of all the elements of boardercross fit him perfectly."

The 20-year-old former halfpipe athlete turned action-hero became an Olympian in January when he earned a spot on the U.S. snowboard cross team, winning a qualifier in Andorra. Jacob will have his first Olympic qualifying run Monday.

His proud parents, Jerry and Lynn, are in Sochi and corrected the record about concussions. Trevor, who grew up in Malibu and perfected his snowboarding skills at Mammoth, told reporters he has had 25 concussions.

The parents said it was more like three to five.

"We know that's a miscommunication," Jerry said.

Said Lynn: "I think that was a number he just threw out there."

The train-jumping video from four years ago sent his extreme-sport cred skyrocketing. Jacob was a fan of the classics, in this case old snowboarding videos and he became enamored of a stunt by Andy Hetzel and Temple Cummins in 1992.

"I grew up watching that video and I always told myself that I had to do that when I grew up and had the access to doing that," Jacob said. "We went up there and did it twice. The second time the train actually stopped and the guy got out and said, 'Look, you can't be doing this.'

"If we see this on the Internet, we're going to come after you.' The filmer and I were like, 'Whatever.' And we put it up on the Internet. … I got a call from Union Pacific and they're like, 'We're taking you to court.' "

So he did it twice?

Jacob: "I did it seven times."

Now it's time for his Olympic closeup. Snowboard cross revived his passion for snowboarding, which had vanished beneath heavy expectations after early success in the halfpipe. At 13, Jacob was the youngest qualifier at the U.S. Open final, and by 17, he felt like it became too serious.

"I went nuts, not nuts, but I just got so burnt out, I just quit," he said. "I'm over it. I just started riding my dirt bike. It's not this sad story because I did all these other things that are so fun that I love to do.

"Finally when this boardercross thing came around. The only person that was there was myself, saying, 'OK, you're going to try this thing out.' The only person pushing myself was me. I think that's why it worked out. There's no one saying you should do this, you should do that.

"I've found this love for snowboarding again. And I'm just so happy that it's all come full circle. ... It took me a little bit to get back and feel the love for it again ... and now we're here."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

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