Check this 7-year-old micro ripper get all top-to-bottom in the Laax park...
The story of super groms in snowboarding goes back years. The first mini-shredder we can remember making waves was a red-headed kid in 1997 by the name of Shaun White. Not sure whatever happened to him... Though Shaun was 11 at the time he shot with Standard Films for TB8, it was the first time we recall seeing a half-grown human appear in a major production, and we remember being floored by the precocious skills he displayed.
Since then there have been many. From Mikkel Bang and Freddy Austbø to more recently Ståle Sandbech and even more recently Red Gerrard and Marcus Kleveland (why are most of these super groms Norwegian?!), the increased opportunities for young snowboarders - both in terms of school structure and visibility - has meant we've become more accustomed to having our brains busted by young talent. We've also been able to see which ones had the mentality to transcend from promising young ripper to fully-fledged adult pro.
The latest in this long line to pop onto our radar is Nico Bondi. We first saw a few shots of this Italian kid from Madonna di Campiglio last winter, as he was taken under the wing of Nitro, Volcom, and longtime shred snapper Vernon Deck. Now, at the grand old age of 7 years old, he's back at it for another season of the send, and Vernon's already been shooting with him in the freestyle snowboard Mecca of Laax. We asked Vernon for a few words on this young buck, and he replied that "Nico can surf, skate and snowboard to an amazing level already and just loves to ride whatever is available. His dad Francesco, himself a very good snowboarder, gives him every opportunity to improve without pushing him like a football dad. They just cruise the park all day, loving it. Laax is their favourite park to visit."
It's hard to stress how important the 'not being a football dad' is. If there's one thing almost guarenteed to either turn a kid off the shred or give them a warped sense of what it's all about, then it's having pushy parents who see careers and dollar signs as opposed to the true heavenly glory of snowboarding - having fun dicking around in the snow with your homies.
There's every sign that Nico is on the right track.