When Joseph Leonardo finished his free skiing run at the 2020 Freeride Junior World Championship by Dynastar in Kappl, Austria, he clicked out of his skis a world champion.
For this young man from Edwards, Colorado, the victory was the culmination of a lifetime of skiing, years of training (much of it alongside his younger sister), and working with a very special coach, his dad. Add his mom’s unwavering support to the mix, and freeride skiing is very much a Leonardo family affair.
In a post race interview, Leonardo described his emotions this way. “It’s pretty amazing, I’m still in a little bit of shock, it hasn’t all hit yet, but I’m super excited.”
And who wouldn’t be? Can you imagine being a World Champion at 16?
Joseph Leonardo has been skiing his entire life and competing for about seven years, although no one in his family is exactly sure about this. Which is something I enjoy about the Leonardo family. They are low-key about sports and competitions.
Both Joseph and his sister Gabrielle compete in freeskiing and both siblings are coached by their father, Jeff Leonardo.
Mom Caroline Leonardo explains. “Joey’s dad has always been his coach. Jeff has been his soccer coach since he was very young, so this somehow seemed like a natural progression,” adding that Jeff has completed the International Freeskiers Association (IFSA) Coach Certification Program for Big Mountain Freeride.
As for Caroline, she wasn’t originally planning to go to Austria for the World Championships, thinking it might be a good bonding time for father and son.
But not wanting to miss out (what mom does?!), she decided make the trip and lucky for her. In addition to the thrill of watching her son compete and win, she says the family enjoyed meeting competitors from around the world and were impressed with event organizers, especially after heavy snowfall forced a venue change.
“We felt like it was a win just for Joey to be invited to compete,” Caroline Leonardo explains. “It never occurred to us that he might win. He was relaxed and skied a great run. It was awesome to be there with him.”
© 2020, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.