West Bloomfield snowboarder Kyle Mack's road to Olympic glory
WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) - It all started with a temper tantrum on Boyne Mountain.
"My family always went up for vacations and one day my dad just let me go ski by myself and it didn't go over too well. I took a pretty hard tumble," he said.
Kyle Mack says he wouldn't put on skis again, wouldn't go to daycare.
"My dad really didn't know what to do with me at that point, so he was like alright, I'm putting you on a snowboard and then from there, I just never looked back. I was 3," he said.
The family supported Kyle when his interest in snowboarding increased. He practiced mini runs on paths of snow in his front yard. His dad even built a skateboard park in the garage for Kyle.
He practiced and practiced, finally mastering the basics and securing his first sponsorship with Burton Snowboards.
“At 7 years old, all I wanted to do was snowboard,” he said.
With his sponsor backing him, Kyle went overseas to compete in the European Open.
"I ended up breaking my wrist when I was there and my dad got a speeding ticket to get me down to the hospital in time, but that whole event and that whole journey showed me what it was like to travel and do all those cool things," he said.
Breaking a wrist in the European Open was not going to stop 7-year-old Kyle Mack from competing.
Seeking to master even bigger jumps and learn more tricks, it didn't matter if there wasn't a mountain nearby to practice runs on. The family home became the perfect stand-in. That's right, Kyle decided to jump off the roof.
"We said hey you could go off the roof to get more speed so you could go a little higher. So he got on the roof and just ollied on to the down ramp so he could pick up a little more speed," his father Tod said.
Those early practice runs secured many medals through the years for Kyle. He attributes his success to his Michigan roots.
"I've been snowboarding for 17 years of my life and I'd say I'm on snow almost 300 days of the year," he said. "I think just the amount of time you can be on your board or skis in Michigan is so much more beneficial than anything else."
At age 16, Kyle decided to try for the Olympics. He would have been one of the youngest riders to make the team, but missed it by one spot.
But in 2016, Kyle was ready for the US Open.
"Finally winning that event was probably one of the craziest moments in my life, just because every legend in snowboarding has won that event," he said. "I was freaking out. My mom was there, she was crying. As expected, it made me tear up a bit when I knew I was going to the Olympics it was just like a weight was taken off my back. I did it. All this hard work and I'm finally going to this."
Participating in the pageantry of the Olympics was overwhelming for Kyle, but when it came time to compete, he was ready.
"I would say I was pretty calm that whole entire trip. Every time I was about to drop in, even at the top waiting around, making sure I wasn't like shaking or anything, it was really calm," he said. "You get 3 runs in Big Air. So the first run I did a backslide 1440 with Japan and that's 4 full revolutions, spin with three flips."
Kyle's second run involved a trick called the Bloody Dracula, so called because if you don't pull it off, you could get really hurt.
"I never got it before the contest so I never landed it, never did that trick before," he said.
That risk helped Kyle win the Olympic silver medal.
"The first thing I did was run to my parents," he said. "I owe everything to my parents."
Connie said she cried the whole time.
"I've watched so many people do this already and to be one of them," Kyle said.
Tod says the win hasn't changed his son.
"I think he's still humble, kind of the same kid. He came home the same way," he said.
Kyle said his plan is to keep snowboarding, and doing what he's doing.
"There's still contests every year that I'm going to chase ... then I will be trying for the next Olympics in Beijing. So I've got 4 years to train and prepare for that," he said.
And with each accomplishment, Kyle says thank you to the loved ones who helped shape his career.
"My family has sacrificed a lot for me. From work and school time to money, everything, just to get me to where I'm at. I wouldn't be here without them," he said. "I've got to buy them a house, that's my thank you."
With his family's support, hard work and perseverance, we'll watch for Michigan's Silver snowboarder Kevin Mack competing for an Olympic medal on the slopes again in 2022.