Tyler Redes does not act like a national snowboarding champion because he doesn’t need to.
Every winter, as many mornings as he can, he makes the trip to the mountain.
He straps one foot in, waddles up to the chairlift, and waits in line.
At about 5’ 11’’ and 150 lbs, Redes is physically unimposing and blends in with the rest of the riders.
Perhaps he relishes his time in the crowd, because once he begins his descent down the mountain, he can’t help but stand out.
“It’s pretty unreal truthfully. He’s the best I’ve ever seen,” friend and riding companion Brian Fusco said.
Forty miles south of Hartford, in the town of Clinton, Conn. is where it all started for Tyler Redes. That is the town Redes was born in.
Clinton is a small town of 13,500 people, although it boasts that the number swells to about 20,000 in the summer.
The town website’s list of “rainy day activities” features a library, two historical rooms, a museum and that’s it. Not exactly the ideal place for a self-described hyper kid looking for sources of entertainment.
At first glance, Redes’ story sounds like any other snow junkie.
He first strapped himself into a snowboard at age 14, and he’s been attached to it ever since.
“I love the freedom,” Redes said. “It’s something I do with my friends.
Redes added, “I’ve been snowboarding a long time. I’ll be boarding my whole life.”
At 17, his addiction led him to Mount Snow Academy, which Redes described as, “sort of a team, but more like a school for freestyle snow sports.”
Then came the competitions. Redes knew he was good, but it’s hard to believe anyone could have predicted what happened next.
It started with qualifiers, which Redes won.
Then came more mid-level competitions, which again, Redes won.
Soon came regionals where Redes won again.
Then, on a sunny, 35-degree day in Summit County, Col., just two years into his competitive snowboarding career, Redes earned the half pipe gold medal in the U.S. Snowboarding Association National Championship.
Redes was only 19 when he won the coveted award.
“It was a crazy feeling, winning the national championship,” Redes said. “It felt unbelievable.”
After accomplishing so much so quickly, Redes’ future in snowboarding looked bright.
But the highlight of his life was quickly met with tragedy.
Just 24 hours later, Redes was riding through a wooded trail preparing for another competition.
He was in a freak snowboarding accident that left him hospitalized for two weeks.
He doesn’t remember what happened, but suffered severe head injuries and doctors doubted he could snowboard again.
But Redes’ determination and passion for the sport fueled a miraculous recovery.
Two years later, Redes snowboards regularly and is still turning riders into spectators on the mountain.
“It’s really fun just to watch him; everything he does is just at another level,” fellow boarder, Jaime Messina said.
Redes doesn’t snowboard competitively anymore, but the accident never stood a chance at keeping him from the sport he loves.
He talks about the mountain like it’s where he belongs.
“Life’s just a lot simpler out there,” Redes said.
It’s hard to ignore the irony of his comment.
Avid snowboarder Alex Howland has had a season pass to Mount Snow since he was a freshman at KSC three years ago.
Howland said Redes is often doing some of the hardest, most complex tricks he’s ever seen on the mountain.
It seems to the average rider, there’s nothing “simple” about it.
But it’s clear, Redes sees life differently through his goggles.
This winter, from a chairlift, Messina saw Redes stick a 900 with ease.
Redes was also landing 1080’s with consistency this winter.
No one doubted he would always have the natural ability to be great.
But after a traumatic accident, it’s hard to believe anyone would have the confidence to go that big again.
Some things never change.
Zach Winn can be contacted at