Professional snowboarder, Sacred Heart University student, and 2026 Olympic hopeful, Joey Okesson is already a popular name in the world of international snowboarding.
Hailing from Southbury, Connecticut, Okesson is the youngest member of the Men’s US Pro Halfpipe Team, joining veteran Chase Blackwell and Olympians Chase Josey and Lucas Foster on the squad.
His passion for the sport began at a young age in the skate parks of Narragansett, Rhode Island. “I really liked skating and was able to find a community through that,” said Okesson. “That was kind of my introduction to board sports and punk rock.”
Transitioning to the mountain slopes happened soon thereafter. “I’ve been snowboarding since I was 8, this will be my thirteenth year.” said Okesson. Not long after taking to the snow, he joined the Okemo Mountain School in Ludlow, Vermont. This gave him the chance to hone his skills in the winter term, competing in amateur events through the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA).
“Through their guidance, I started competing, and it kind of grew to what it is now. At first, I did all the events. Racing, Boardercross, Slopestyle, Halfpipe, Rail Jam,” he said.
When asked what led him to the position he is in today, Okesson praised his childhood coaches at the Okemo Mountain School, crediting them for his drive to compete and improve.
“In hindsight, I’m so thankful for the people that were around when I was super young,” said Okesson. “All the coaches there were either ex-pros or grew up in the industry, they knew the ebb and flow of how snowboarding worked. I’m still friends with all of them today.”
As one of the only athletes on Team USA who is currently enrolled in a university, Okesson has the unique challenge of balancing his course load with a busy schedule for The International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS). Sacred Heart has given him the opportunity to take classes part-time, registering for two-to-eight-week AHEAD programs over the summer. His mom, Kristin Okesson is an alumna of the university, and one of the reasons why he decided to attend SHU.
Being from the East Coast comes with a fair share of obstacles for winter sport athletes. Throughout the community, the region is well known for its infamous icy conditions, bad weather, and low levels of snowfall.
For Okesson, that’s just part of the charm. He said, “I think it’s just so pure. People are happy to be there, regardless of the situation, regardless of the weather. They’re just down to shred. You get that feel for the passion of it, and once you get to go out west where the snow is good all day, you just flourish. You blossom like a flower.”
And blossom, he certainly has. With two top ten finishes at the FIS World Cup and five top ten finishes at the NorAm Cup, Okesson has cemented himself among the top snowboarders on the planet.
At both the 2021 X Games and the 2022 US Toyota Grand Prix, he placed top five overall. Some of his other leading performances include high scoring runs at the 2022 Mammoth Grand Prix, 2020 Burton US Open and 2021 LAAX Open.
While he is no stranger to success, the scorecards are not what motivates this Conn. rider. He sees snowboarding as an art form, determined to present himself through his tricks on the pipe.
Okesson said, “There really are no rules to this. You can do it however you want. Oftentimes, the way you want to do it is going to be way cooler than if you were to be doing it for someone else.”
While his sights are set on the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan, Okesson is dedicated to bettering himself as a snowboarder and creator in the meantime. “I have two years until that point, I just want to be the best all-around version of myself,” he said.
The snowboarding competition will take place at the world-famous resort Livigno, located in the Italian Alps.
Qualifying for Team USA has given him the chance to compete alongside a number of his idols, learning from legends in the sport such as Zeb Powell, Taylor Gold, and Shaun White.
Being that role model for the next generation of young riders is the ultimate goal for 21-year-old snowboarder Joey Okesson.
He said, “I was once a kid on YouTube watching snowboarding videos, If I could be of service to some kid and inspire them in some way that would be really cool.”