Julia “Jules” Marino is an American snowboarder competing in women’s slopestyle and big air at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Marino, 20, is making her Olympic debut in South Korea. She is one of the top snowboarders on the professional tour and, according to TeamUSA.org, she could be the next big thing.
“It’s cool to hear it. It’s definitely a goal of mine to be the best I can and to get my name out there,” she said. “This year that’s been happening to me, and it’s inspiring and motivating to me to make the best I can out of it.”
Marino will be competing alongside fellow American Jamie Anderson, the gold medalist at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi in slopestyle. Jessika Jenson and Hailey Langland round out Team USA’s slopestyle and big air squads.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Marino Is From Westport, Connecticut, & Was a State Champion Soccer Player Before Leaving the School to Turn Pro Before She Turned 18
Jules Marino was born and raised in Westport, Connecticut, a shoreline town on Fairfield County along Long Island Sound. She has been competing as a snowboarder since she was 12, but she told TeamUSA.org that her first love was actually skiing. She wasn’t a fan of snowboarding, which she first tried when she was 8, but a broken ski a few years later when she was 13 and on a family trip in Colorado changed that.
“Dad said he wouldn’t rent more skis because I had a perfectly good snowboard,” she said. “I was really mad because I had to spend the rest of the vacation on a snowboard.”
Her father, John Marino, a financial advisor, told the Hartford Courant, “She grumbled and wasn’t too happy about it.” Julia said, “After a couple of days, I really began to enjoy it, though.”
Marino was always a daredevil and liked to climb and explore, her parents told the Courant. On the first day of kindergarten, her parents got a call to say that she had somehow scaled a wall.
“The principal said, ‘We don’t know how she did it, and we don’t think adults could do it,” John Marino told the Courant. “But if you could just please tell her not to do that again, we’d appreciate it.’”
Marino, who has a sister, Cece, was also a soccer player growing up and played for three years at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Connecticut. Her team won the state championship in 2013.
“She was a great competitor,” her coach there, Jack Nogueira, told the Westport News. “She was fearless at soccer so I think it translated with snowboarding.”
While at St. Joseph, she would spend the first semester attending classes like every other student. Then during the second semester, she would submit her assignments online while training in Colorado and Utah, according to the Westport News. She eventually left the school during her junior year and finished high school through an online program to focus on her snowboarding career. She turned pro before she turned 18.
“She did a wonderful job,” Nogueira told the Westport News. “It’s not easy. She had a lot of friends. As the years went on, everybody kind of knew it was going to be her last year. She left a big mark at St. Joseph’s with everyone she knew and touched.
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John Marino told the newspaper it wasn’t always easy for her to balance being a high school kid with her burgeoning snowboarding career.
“She’s had some highs and lows,” John Marino said. “There’s been times she’s struggled with confidence. (But) those have been great learning opportunities.”
Her mother, Elaine Marino, told the Westport News that success hasn’t changed her daughter.
“She’s still just always Julia,” Elaine Marino told the newspaper. “She’s just Jules. She’s just our daughter. It’s a little weird. … She’s a very chill person. She took it all in stride. She was excited about (the Olympics). She doesn’t get phased by a lot. That’s a good thing.”
She added, “We’re extremely proud. It’s indescribable. We’ve seen Julia grow as a person and raise in the ranks, but she’s still our daughter. She’s very grounded and down-to-earth. We’ve always been mom and dad. She’s been able to stay normal. She’s just a kid from Westport.”
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2. Known for Her ‘Cab Double Underflip, She Burst Into the Spotlight With a Big Air Win at Fenway Park in 2016 & Is Now Ranked in the Top 5 on the World Snowboarding Tour
Julia Marino began competing on the Revolution Tour in 2015 and then burst onto the snowboarding scene in 2016 at the FIS World Cup/U.S. Grand Prix event at Fenway Park in Boston in 2016. She wasn’t expecting to compete in the event, but found a spot when her teammate had to withdraw because of an injury.
“That was really crazy. I just went there as an alternate with a goal of preparing myself for the scaffolding jump because I had another event coming up,” Marino told TeamUSA.org.“Getting into that event was something I wasn’t expecting. I felt prepared, and on the first jump I hit. I hit it not thinking of anything else, kind of like there was a blank slate in my mind. I had never hit a scaffolding.”
She has family in the Boston area, and was excited just to be at Fenway, telling the Boston Globe after the event that she had only ever walked by it before.
“I was so stoked,” Marino told the newspaper in 2016. “I was so happy actually to be able to put down my runs and win. This is an amazing place to have a snowboarding contest. It’s definitely the coolest, most creative place to have a contest because it’s so unique. There’s never been anything like this. It’s just a big jump in the middle of a baseball stadium and that’s pretty cool to say.”
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After Fenway, she finished second in slopestyle and fifth in big air at the 2016 World Snowboard Tour world championships in China and her career skyrocketed from there.
She is currently ranked 5th in slopestyle and 3rd in big air on the World Snowboarding Tour this year, and has made it onto several podiums.
Marino is known for her “cab double underflip,” a trick she was one of the first to bring to women’s slopestyle and big air.
“It’s really not that difficult unless you have a fear of doing new flips,” Marino told TeamUSA.org. “At first it was scary and a little hard, but after a few it came to me fast. Now I’ve done it so many times that it’s in me. Now it’s more like muscle memory.”
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She is looking forward to putting on a show at the Olympics, especially in big air, a sport that is making its debut this year.
“To have big air in the Olympics is another step for snowboarding and a chance to get the whole world to realize it,” Marino told TeamUSA.org. “To get into that event would be a pretty honorable experience.”
She has previously competed in snowboardcross and halfpipe, but has put those aside to focus on slopestyle and big air.
Jamie Anderson, the 27-year-old slopestyle gold medalist at the Sochi Olympics, where the sport made its debut, told the Hartford Courant, “Julia is absolutely amazing. I really like her. She reminds me a lot of my younger self. She’s a really free spirit, loves to be outside, walks around bare-foot. And she’s only getting better. It’s so fun to watch her compete. She’s so strong mentally and physically. I think she’s going to be a huge name in women’s snowboarding for years to come.”
Her mother, Elaine Marino, told the Courant it can be tough to watch her daughter compete.
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“It’s nerve-wracking, I know it’s a risky sport,” she said. “I remember at USA Nationals watching her compete. We went from the East Coast where everything is smaller. But then we get out there, and there’s all these huge features. She went flying over the first jump, and I remember my knees actually got weak. A man next to me grabbed me and said, ‘Are you okay?’”
She added, “There are still times that I’m standing behind [my husband] with my head in his back because I can’t watch, “but I know it’s such a special talent that she has.”
Marino will be going all out in Pyeongchang.
“The thing that I’ve always wanted to do is kind of push my limits,” Marino told the Courant, “and see where I can go and see how strong I can be and, you know, what’s the biggest spin I can throw?”
3. Marino Has Won 5 Medals at the X Games, Including a Gold in Slopestyle in 2017
Jules Marino has found a lot of success at the X Games, and will be looking to translate that experience to the Olympics.
During her first Aspen X Games in 2017, she won the gold medal in slopestyle. During that event, she became the first woman to land a Cab 900 double underflip in an X Games women’s slopestyle contest.
“Oh my God, I am just so happy, it felt so smooth when I landed it!” Marino told TransWorld. “It honestly doesn’t feel like real life, I’m just on a cloud, I couldn’t ask for a better contest. This is a dream come true.”
She also won the bronze medal in big air at the Aspen games that year, and won the bronze in slopestyle and a silver in big air the 2017 X Games in Hafjell, Norway.
Marino followed up that amazing rookie season with a silver medal in slopestyle at the 2018 Aspen X Games in January, her fifth medal.
She told Snowboard.com that she thinks the X Games set her up well for Pyeongchang:
When I first looked at the schedule and saw how close the two were, I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it. I thought maybe that it was going to be super stressful to have the two back to back. But now, I feel that X Games, being such huge contest for me, will be a good prep for the Winter Olympics and will help keep my mindset of competing fresh in my head, rather than taking a huge break between the two where I might come down off the adrenaline high and need to spend a lot of extra energy kicking it back up for the biggest competition of my life. The atmosphere of the two contests seem to also be very similar – between the athletes who attend and the higher level of courses. I think it makes for the perfect pre-Winter Olympic practice.
Marino added, “I’m not entirely sure. I haven’t really talked to athletes a whole lot about that because I would assume that everyone getting invited to X Games would definitely love to compete. Not to mention, it’s a hard contest to get into, so getting an invite is a pretty huge deal for any athlete working to compete at a professional level. And I suppose if they are concerned, there’s always X Games Norway after the Winter Olympics!”
4. She Says She Is Expecting the Olympic Experience to Be ‘Beyond All My Expectations’ & Will Have a Lot of Family Cheering Her On
Marino told the Chicago Tribune that she is looking forward to everything that comes with being a part of the Olympics.
“I’m sure the Olympic atmosphere will be beyond all my expectations since this is my first,” she told the Tribune. “I think it will be a great vibe, where all the athletes will be part of this one community for two weeks and really relate to each other, because we all know the hard work and dedication that goes into it. We will all be looking forward to putting on a great show for a global audience.”
When asked what she wants to bring home from South Korea, she told the Tribune, “Aside from a medal? Something to remind me of the experience and the country I visited. Not sure what that is yet.”
Marino added, “I’ll also have the unbelievable luck of having a friend of mine there who I grew up with, but who is originally from South Korea, speaks Korean and knows the culture as a true native.”
She met that friend, Chaihyun Kim, on her first day of kindergarten in her hometown of Westport, Connecticut, according to the 06880 blog.
Chai Kim has family in South Korea and they helped the Marino family plan their trip to Pyeongchang, according to 06880, helping them get discount tickets to the opening ceremony and housing.
Marino will have a large cheering section in South Korea, including her parents, five aunts, three uncles five cousins and her sister, Cece, according to 06880.
5. Marino Enjoys Drawing, Including Designing Tattoos for Her Friends, & Likes to Skateboard, Garden & Take Photos
Jules Marino is artistic and enjoys spending time outdoors skateboarding and gardening when she is not on the slopes. Marino plays guitar and likes to take the instrument on the road with her when she can.
“My go-to songs are probably ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd, ‘Black Bird’ by The Beatles, and ‘Meet Me in the City’ by the Black Keys,” she told Snowboard.com.
According to NBCOlympics.com, “In her free time, she likes to draw and takes a sketchbook with her whenever she travels. Although she does not have any tattoos of her own, she has drawn tattoo designs for friends. Marino’s other hobbies include skateboarding, gardening and photography.”
She also enjoys getting to travel, she told the Chicago Tribune.
“It is a great idea to travel and experience the world outside of your own town. Seeing how people live their lives in completely different settings and doing things differently, but still being the same underneath is an awesome learning experience and it is fun!” she said. “I feel fortunate that what I do allows me to do that. I also love the fact that it teaches me how to be self-sufficient and to figure out stuff on my own, even if I don’t speak the language.”
She said her camera and sketch book go with her always.
“Camera, for sure,” she told the Tribune. “I am really into photography and want to capture what is unique and interesting about where I am visiting and my drawing journal. I am really into art.”