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Cataloochee snowboarders cheer X Games win of homegrown champion Zeb Powell

Jan. 30—Snowboarding legend Zeb Powell who grew up on the 8 slopes of Cataloochee Ski Area snagged a silver medal in the X Games this weekend — his second time claiming a spot on the X Games podium.

The snowboarding community at Cataloochee was fired up Monday following Powell's win.

"Big supporters. We love Zeb. He shredded it," Mikey Sheridan said during a break between runs.

Powell, 24, who originally hails from Waynesville, is a source of pride for local snowboarders.

"It is really an inspiration," said Hudson Dupler, a WCU student who boards at Cataloochee. "It is really cool to see someone who got their start at Cataloochee take it to the next level like that and represent North Carolina."

Powell's ascension in the national snowboarding scene as a teenager was cemented with a gold medal win in 2020 — when an off-the-hook trick catapulted him from X Games rookie to a snowboarding sensation.

Cataloochee snowboarder Brett Benfield said the chances of a Waynesville snowboarder making it big were "one in a million." But seeing Powell's X Games performance, it's easy to see why.

"He definitely had some tricks you just don't normally see, that are just kind of out there. It's like 'Wow, how did he put that down? Why would you even think of that?' But it's so perfect. It's beautiful," said Benfield, a WCU student.

Powell's signature slope event is the Knuckle Huck, which is judged based on creativity and style. Snowboarders jump off the "knuckle" as opposed to a big air jump, and "huck" a trick while in the air.

Commentators called Powell "the most creative man on a snowboard" when announcing his run in the Aspen X Games.

The slopes of Cataloochee were hopping with kids out of school on Monday and buzzing with excitement over Powell.

"I'll take it easy out here today cause I don't want to show him up," quipped Maddox Kussow, a high school snowboarder from Franklin.

Powell began snowboarding at Cataloochee when he was eight. Come high school, he left Waynesville to attend snowboarding school in Vermont. While he's still based in Vermont, his original hometown of Waynesville, NC, flashed on the screen below his name during the X Games.

"It's pretty cool we got a guy like that who came from around here," said Sawyer Sumner, a high school snowboarder from Sylva.

After an on-air interview with X Games announcers in Aspen on Sunday, Powell left his snowboarding gloves behind. The announcers decided to do a give away of Powell's gloves, with thousands commenting in the live chat in hopes of winning them.