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Brothers go after Olympic dreams

By John Gibb

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia will be represented this week as the 2014 Sochi Olympic Qualifiers for Boardercross (BX) gets underway in Austria.

Bobby and Jarod Minghini, formerly of Snowshoe Mountain in Pocahontas County, will be two of the 12 American hopefuls for the 4-man U.S. BX team. They are the only siblings competing for a spot.

BX is a discipline of snowboarding in which four boarders start simultaneously atop an inclined course and ride over a series of features trying to reach the finish line first. Those features include a variety of cambered turns, gap jumps, drops, as well as steep and flat sections designed to challenge the riders' abilities.

BX became an Olympic sport in 2006 and has been a sport at the Winter X Games since 1997. BX has also been referred to as Snowboarder X, SBX and Snowboard Cross.

The brothers were born and raised in West Virginia. They lived near Snowshoe Mountain Resort, adjacent from the slopes. Bobby, 27, began snowboarding as a 5-year-old. Jarod, 25, picked up the sport shortly after Bobby. Both currently live in Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Bobby was a 2004 graduate of Pocahontas County High School. He moved to Lake Tahoe upon graduation. Jarod stayed around and completed his junior year.

"I visited my brother in Lake Tahoe in 2005," Jarod said. "I knew I needed to be there with him so I made the move after my junior year. I finished school at South Tahoe High and graduated from there in 2006."

Bobby said he moved to Lake Tahoe because of the high concentration of snowboarding professionals there.

"I knew that if I were to succeed in snowboarding, I needed to be somewhere with better mountains and training opportunities," Bobby said. "Lake Tahoe has amazing snow and insane beauty. It's also a place many professionals congregate so it was just the ideal place."

Since moving to Lake Tahoe, the two have qualified for multiple Junior World Championships, received first and second overall in North American Cup standings, received wins at Nor Ams and the Europa Cups, earned spots for World Cups, competed in multiple Winter X Games and began competing on the World Cup Tour. The brothers have received an invitation to compete in the 2014 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo.

Bobby and Jarod spoke to the Daily Mail last week from Finland. They are in Finland preparing for the first of four Olympic qualifiers. They are set to compete Dec. 7 at the first qualifying event in Montafon, Austria.

"Snowboarding has been a huge part of our lives," Jarod said. "When we lived at Snowshoe, we would go snowboarding every day after school. We would oftentimes go night riding, which was fun."

"We've been training very hard," Bobby said. "Competing in the Olympics has been a life-long dream of ours and we have been focused on achieving that dream."

Over the summer, the brothers worked 40 hours a week to save up for their winter on the slopes. They train 5 to 7 days a week -- training consists of hiking, biking, running, swimming and other outdoor activities. In addition, they hit the gym for weight training, plyometrics, sprints and yoga.

The brothers said there is a significant financial demand that comes with their Olympic quest. Unlike other top U.S. athletes, they are not supported by the U.S. for the qualifying events that are held in various countries around the world.

They are responsible for all their travel and sporting expenses -- everything from clothing, snowboards, wax, tuning equipment, coaching, team fees, training camps, gym fees, season passes, lodging and airfare.

"We both have a couple of sponsors, one of which is Snowshoe Mountain Resort," Bobby said. "Our mother owns Route 66 Snowboard Shop and she helps us out as much as possible. Our mom has been extremely supportive."

Two weeks ago, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin tweeted "Good luck to WV snowboarders Bobby and Jarod Minghini as they seek to qualify for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics."

"The support we're getting has been overwhelming," Bobby said. "Snowshoe was our spot growing up. West Virginia was and will always be home."

The 2014 Sochi Olympics begins Feb. 7. The Boardercross course will feature a variety of obstacles, including step downs, table tops, berms, rollers and shark pits. The course will be roughly 1,250 meters or 4,101 feet long.

"The best case scenario is that we both qualify for the Olympics," Jarod said. "However, it will be thrilling if just one of us made it. I would cheer Bobby on and he would do the same."

Bobby and Jarod are trying to raise $40,000, or $20,000 each, to help cover some of the expenses needed to pursue their Olympic dreams. They have created a GoFundMe profile in which individuals can donate to their cause. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/4qgyyc.

Contact writer John Gibb at john.gibb@dailymail.com or 304-348-1796.


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