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How a family’s sacrifice made a Michigan snowboarder’s Olympic dreams come true

Zoe Kalapos of Beverly Hills, Michigan is getting her shot at the 2022 Beijing Olympics
Michigan snowboarder ready for the Winter Olympics
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 5:08 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2022 at 9:36 PM EST
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BEVERLY HILLS, Mich. (WILX) - It all started on a cold day in northern Michigan when Zoe Kalapos picked up a snowboard for the first time at five years old.

“I said that night ‘that was the best day ever! I want to snowboard for forever!’ And I’ve been snowboarding ever since and haven’t really turned back,” Kalapos said.

Kalapos started doing local competitions at nine years old with her brother in Michigan and she was winning almost every one of them.

“That was kind of like a big turning point like, okay you’re doing well here, how would you do against other national riders?” Kalapos said.

She headed out to Colorado with her family to try and answer that question. She placed really well and soon moved out to the Rockies -- but it didn’t come without sacrifice. Her mom, who was a teacher, stayed behind to help provide income and had to fly out there every weekend to see them.

“Not having a mother figure there all the time was really hard on us as kids but also really hard on my parents. As a marriage, that’s really straining to be apart for so much time. We spent a lot of our time on facetime or on phone calls and there was lots of tears but also a lot of rejoicing when we were back together,” Kalapos said. “I think that is also a big internal drive factor for me like if my parents believe in me this much, like I need to really believe in myself and know that I can do this.”

Talk about commitment, living apart for five years as and her brother joined Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. They snowboarded in the morning and went to school in the afternoon, but that’s what it took to become one of four girls competing on Team USA for women’s halfpipe in the 2022 Olympics.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to go to the Olympics,” Kalapos said. “I just can’t believe that it’s coming true and that everything I’ve done and all the hard work I’ve put in is finally paying off.”

She was close to qualifying in 2018 but missed the cut-off by two spots. That was all the motivation she needed. Now when she’s in the starting gate, she’s going to remember the feeling and the sacrifice it took to get there.

“It’s going to be crazy. It’s gonna be like such a euphoric feeling. I really wanna go over there and land the best run I can and be proud of my snowboarding and also make my country and home state really proud. I’m just going to be really grateful for everything and try and enjoy every second of it.”

You can watch Zoe in the women’s halfpipe event on February 9th on NBC.

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