Al and Victoria Fenton tried to brave the Tahoe cold. But they couldn’t.
So from the warm confines of a rented condominium, they watched their 4½-year-old daughter — aptly named Summer — try to snowboard.
“So we’re looking at her from the window,” Victoria said. “And there she was just beating herself up. Falling. Eating it. Everything. And we were just like, ‘What is she doing?’ She just would not stop.”
Summer, 14 years removed from that first stint in the snow, still hasn’t stopped.
This week, the 18-year-old San Franciscan will have reached the peak of her young sporting career when she competes against some of the best snowboarders in the world at the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships in Vail, Colo.
But despite her hellacious display on the halfpipe, the trek to the championships for the middle-class tan girl from the Outer Sunset hasn’t been all smooth.
Being raised a block from Ocean Beach meant that snow was a several-hours’ drive away.
“Without their support, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today,” Summer said of her parents, who drove her to Tahoe every weekend.
“It was just crazy,” Victoria added. “But she loved it, and we figured we’d find a way.”
Earlier this month, Summer likewise found a way to qualify for the Colorado event when competing in the halfpipe event at the US Open Snowboarding Qualifiers in Seven Springs, Pa.
But wrought with worry, Victoria struggled to watch.
“It’s hard for me to watch her,” she said. “I wanna watch her, but I wanna close my eyes too until her run is done. It’s nerve-wracking.”
But mom isn’t the only one who’s afraid.
“Yeah, I get scared. But I like being scared,” Summer said. “When you land your trick, it’s literally like the best feeling ever. So being scared, at the end works out to your advantage because you get this really good feeling about yourself. My motto is to not let fear hold me back.”
During Summer’s first qualifying run, she tumbled to the finish. But like that 4-year-old all those years ago, Summer weathered the fall.
“I had to step away from the computer screen and watch from there,” Victoria said. “And her second run, she just killed it.”
Indeed. Summer took first place that day with a score of 90.2.
“The day of my contest, I was seriously having the best time of my life snowboarding,” Summer said. “Then they were like ‘You’re in first place by six points.’ I was like ‘Oh my god, this is cool. All right. I’ll take that.’”
But during her formative snowboarding years, “Summer” didn’t quite exist.
The snowboarder’s Irish-American father and Filipino-American mother had brokered a deal when naming their first born.
“If she was born anytime after June 20. ... she would be named ‘Summer,’” Victoria said. “Well it turns out she was born June 19. So my husband’s like, ‘A ha, it’s Briana.’
But she wasn’t Briana for long. While at elementary school, Victoria added ‘Summer’ to her daughters name.
“She said ‘everyone, call me Summer.’”
And this week in Colorado, too, Summer it shall be.