One humble huckster | SierraSun.com

One humble huckster

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Jen Schmidt/Sierra SunBrandon Cocard of Truckee floats a backflip during the slopestyle finals of the Winter Dew Tour Toyota Championship at Northstar on Feb. 20. The Porters Tahoe rider is having a breakout year competitively, coming off a fifth-place finish in the Toyota Championship slopestyle finals.
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Truckee snowboarder Brandon Cocard is not one to boast. It’s too bad, in a sense, because he’s earned an earful of bragging rights with his recent string of top finishes.

But this 21-year-old ” essentially in his rookie season competing as a pro ” remains grounded, in spite of his upstart status in a fiercely competitive sport.

Most recently, the Porters Tahoe-sponsored rider took first place in the BroDown Showdown slopestyle contest at Bear Mountain last weekend.

The win came on the heels of his most impressive performance to date, when he placed fifth in slopestyle among an all-star cast of snowboarders on the final stop of the Winter Dew Tour at Northstar on Feb. 20.

Considering the guys he beat ” Andreas Wiig, Mikkel Bang and Scotty Lago, to name a few ” and the guys who beat him ” Torstein Horgmo, Shaun White, Porters teammate Chas Guldemond and Dan Brisse ” fifth place never felt so good to Cocard.

Yet he passed on his opportunity to brag about his exploits.

“It was definitely a big learning experience, for sure,” Cocard said of the competition.

“I learned that I need to learn a lot more tricks,” he continued. “Nowadays, to take top honors, it seems like you have to land some kind of 1260 or double cork. It’s just ridiculous how much (the sport has) progressed. It really opened my eyes to what I need to learn.”

Cocard said he stuck the most difficult trick he knows, a frontside 1080, to end his run.

“Previously in my career, I had only done a handful of 1080s,” he said. “I just learned it last year.”

If only he could master one more half-spin before returning to earth, or an extra flip, he’ll pose even more of a threat to the big-name competitors.

“I’ve always had in my head to do some sort of 1260 or double backflip. I haven’t really gotten the guts yet, but it’s on my to-do list,” he said.

While Cocard realizes the importance of progression when it comes to learning new tricks, he dialed the style aspect of the sport long ago, said Eric Asistin, team manager and staff photographer for Porters.

“Brandon almost makes things look too easy. He has so much style ” just a lazy, easy style,” said Asistin, who’s been working with Cocard for about seven years. “It looks like he’s not trying sometimes. Watching him go is pretty rad.”

Cocard earned his shot to compete against the biggest stars in the industry in the Dew Tour after receiving an invitation to the slopestyle open qualifier at Breckenridge, Colo., in mid December.

“It was my first time hitting jumps all year, so when I got to Breck everything looked huge. The smallest jump they had was like 70 feet,” he said, explaining that Tahoe resorts had yet to build up their parks due to sparse snow conditions.

Nevertheless, he advanced through the 60-rider field with a 10th-place finish to compete in the first Dew Tour at Breckenridge, where he placed 24th overall. With enough points to continue on to the second stop of the tour, Cocard decided at the last minute to fly out to Mount Snow, Vt., in January. He finished 16th.

In between the second and third Dew Tour stops, Cocard brought home a third-place finish from the 11th annual Mountain High Triple Air on Feb. 9.

Call it a breakout season.

“It’s definitely the best season I’ve had as far as results go,” Cocard said.

With top results comes prize money, as Cocard was awarded $4,000 for his fifth-place finish in the Northstar stop of the Dew Tour. He won $2,000 for his win in the BroDown Showdown, and $1,500 for third place in the Mountain High Triple Air.

Combined with his summer job as an instructor at Windells Snowboard Camp at Mount Hood, Ore., Cocard’s winnings afford him the opportunity to earn a living pursuing his passion.

And he’s just getting started.

“Brandon is on his way,” Asistin said.