Lucas Foster

Lucas Foster executing a cab double cork 1080 at California’s Mammoth Mountain Saturday during the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix. Foster placed fifth in the World Cup competition. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Brunson/ U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

Lucas Foster is busy making waves in the world of snowboarding. The 22-year-old Telluride native took home fifth place in the men's halfpipe competition at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain on Saturday and finished as the highest-ranked American in the halfpipe competition.

It has been almost two years since Foster attended the 2020 X Games in Aspen as a rookie. Since then, he has done about six pro events, helping solidify his position in the world of snowboarding.

"When I did that first X Games, I was still pretty new to the higher level of contest riding and definitely didn't have a ton of experience," Foster said.

A member of the U.S. Snowboard team, he is currently the third-ranked American in the halfpipe. Foster is pleased with his performance at World Cup event.

"I was shooting for top five. I think, for us (snowboarders), the main goal is to ride your best and do the run that you set out to do. I expected myself to do the best run that I could do at the time with the halfpipe that we had. It all turned out pretty well," Foster said.

Every halfpipe is slightly different, he explained. The halfpipe at Mammoth was somewhat shorter than the previous ones he's ridden. As a result, he was only able to get four hits in compared to the usual five, but the difference made no impact on his overall performance.

Over the past few years, Foster has come into his own, but he acknowledged that as he rises higher in the rankings, the stakes also rise.

"At this point, I'm feeling like I earned my spot here. It's definitely not as nerve-racking as it used to be, but I'd say it's more just what is at stake. There's a lot that we do well, and there's so much that comes about, so you just want to do your best, and you don't want to blow these opportunities, because there's only so many chances we get to compete at this level," Foster said.

This week, Foster is competing in the LAAX Open in Switzerland, which is the last World Cup event before the Winter Olympics. The men's halfpipe qualifiers are on Thursday, and finals will be held on Saturday. A lot depends on this week, as LAAX helps determine who will make it on the Olympic team. Four men will be selected to ride for the halfpipe team in Beijing. Snowboarder Taylor Gold has already secured one spot, leaving Foster vying for one of the remaining three.

"This is kind of the last chance event for riders to improve their world ranking and to try to make that team. It's down to maybe three to four of us that are fighting for those spots," Foster said.

Unlike most snowboarders Foster has been competing against, he did not grow up with a halfpipe. According to Foster's longtime skateboarding mentor and coach, Craig Wasserman, there hasn't been a halfpipe in Telluride for around 20 years. Foster had to travel to Crested Butte and places on the Front Range to ride halfpipe.

Because of this, he got a "late start" to the sport compared to other riders.

"There were a lot of people that didn't think I would make it very far because of my situation — living in a place with no halfpipe and not really being part of a team, but I've gotten here," Foster added.

However, Foster is thankful for his "unique upbringing" in Telluride. According to Foster, it forced him to be resourceful and adaptable to every situation. He developed a genuine love for the sport through riding the slopes with his childhood friends.

Wasserman, who has seen Foster progress over the past 21 years, could not be more proud of the rider and man Foster is now.

"We are all so proud of Lucas. One of the things that stands out is the way he carries himself at this professional level, and how humble and grateful he is for his upbringing. But the reason that I think Lucas does so well in all these competitions is because he loves it. He truly loves snowboarding. He truly loves and appreciates all the people around him, giving him support. You could say the ultimate goal is the Olympic gold medal, or you could also say the ultimate goal for Lucas is an awesome day out on the hill with his friends or his family, and his people here in Telluride," Wasserman said.

One of Foster's goals is to make an impact. He credits his upbringing for his ability to relate to others, which is the first step in making an impact.

"You've got to be able to meet people halfway and understand other kids' situations. If you're too elite, then it's going to be hard to make an impact," he said.

After Switzerland, Foster heads to Aspen for the 2022 X Games at the end of January — and all of Telluride will be cheering him down the halfpipe.