WAILUA — Got board, will ride. That could pretty much be a motto, or at least a bumper sticker, for 11-year-old Justin Poskin. If there’s a sport that involves a board, he’ll most likely master it.
From surfing at the beach, to foilboarding at the Wailua River to snowboarding in Park City, Utah, Poskin loves to ride.
Snowboarding, though, is his favorite among all the board sports. In the next couple of years, he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his favorite snowboarder and Olympic gold medalist, Shaun White.
Poskin splits his time between living in Kapa‘a and in Utah, surfing here in the islands and enrolling in snowboarding programs in Utah.
Here, he has access to beaches and rivers where he can ride and practice all the tricks he wants at any time of the year. There, Poskin has access to Olympic training facilities and has even had an encounter with White himself.
“We got a video of him,” Poskin said.
Poskin grew up on Kaua‘i.
He was born with a coarctation of an artery, which meant that there was a narrow section of his artery cutting circulation off to his legs. By age 4, Poskin had open heart surgery, through his back, to cut down the blockage.
The Poskin family was told that after three months and if the youngster healed up nicely, then he would be cleared to do anything, except heavy lifting.
Luckily for the family, he wasn’t looking to become the next power lifter at the Olympics, but a boarder.
He soon picked up wakeboarding and foilboarding. Foilboarding is basically a wakeboard with a hydrofoil attached underneath which lifts the rider 2 to 3 feet above the surface of the water.
Poskin’s father, Jeff, described it like riding a unicycle.
“You apply a little bit of weight difference (on the board), and the board just turns itself,” he said.
Last weekend, he and his father went to the Wailua River to show it off. With a simple two-word command, his father steps on the gas of his boat and Poskin gets to his feet and starts coasting.
“Hit it,” Poskin said.
Other simple commands such as thumbs-up and thumbs-down, signals to his father to speed it up or slow it down.
“I like the medium speed better. When it’s too fast, it’s hard to ride,” he said. “I like the foilboard because it’s harder. Keeping it up is harder to do than riding a wakeboard.”
He likes riding boards for all different reasons.
“I like wakeboarding because I like to learn new tricks and different grabs,” he said. “I can do 360s on the surface, but not in the air yet.”
He likes surfing because of the different waves he can ride. That is also the only sport in which he really competes in at the moment. He recently did the Irons brothers contest earlier this year in Hanalei.
On some days, he can be found skateboarding at the Kapa‘a Skate Park.
But he likes snowboarding the best because of all the air he gets and the tricks he can do .
Despite his young age, Poskin is practically a veteran of board sports. He is home-schooled, which also allows him the freedom to practice several times a week.
When asked if he was concerned about his heart while attempting extreme sports at such a young age, he simply shook his head. And he’s up for new challenges: He hopes to take up windsurfing and kitesurfing soon.
“I want to try those because it’s harder. Hopefully, I’ll get to try those by the end of the year.”
His next trip will be in November when he will be part of a training camp with a Park City snowboard team.