You've won the world championship in your sport by beating a legend whose poster still hangs on your wall. You've played "rock star for a summer," performing stunts between acts during a concert tour with Moby, David Bowie, Ashe and Busta Rhymes. You're 19 and already you have sponsors. Where do you go from here?
If you're Jereme "J-dog" Leafe '06, you wake up, step onto your mountainboard with the "Yesterday was yesterday" sticker and ride to your 8 a.m. calculus class at Kingsbury Hall.
"I always feel pressure at the start of each semester," confesses Leafe, a mechanical engineering major from Monroe, N.H. "There are classes and papers, and I have to make time to train, line up sponsors and events and basically promote the sport. I prefer to work extra hard on my academics up front so I can focus on competing on the weekends."
Leafe is a pioneering talent in the sport of mountainboarding. He won the 2003 world championship in the dual slalom at Amsterdam's Ajax soccer stadium by inching out boyhood idol Jason Lee, who founded the sport.
But it is in the big blue air that "J-dog" may be making his greatest innovations. At the 2002 U.S. Open Mountainboarding Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, Leafe found himself neck-and-neck with two top riders.
"I knew that to win I would have to pull off tricks never completed in competition," he recalls. "I did a 900--two and half rotations in the air--followed by a back flip one-footer, with a hand grab." (Translation: midway through a back flip, remove foot from binding, grab board, go into tuck, straighten out, replace foot in binding and land safely to tumultuous cheers.)
The national championship was his. In 2003, he won again with more progressive tricks. On campus, Leafe likes to practice on a metal bridge railing over College Brook near the red wagon sculpture, using a mountainboard that he says is like a "skateboard on steroids." And after UNH? "I'll compete as long as I can," says Leafe. "Then I see myself working to engineer the lightest, strongest and fastest board out there." ~Return to UNH Magazine Campus Currents