FRESNO, Calif. (NEXSTAR) – Byron Stickler was born in 1970. He is 51 years old, but he is certainly not 51 years old in this picture.

“You know, I was probably the second wave, actually of it coming through,” says Stickler. “There was a big wave in the ’80s but I would say the second wave I was definitely part of.”

Snowboarding first became an Olympic sport in 1998. Byron Stickler began snowboarding ten years earlier, in 1988.

He was 18 years old.

“There was this little show-off quality to me. I mean, you really sort of have to have that to be a great athlete,” he said. “’97-2001 I was really competitive, really doing competitions.”

A competitive snowboarder before the sport became popular.

“What they’re riding these days is everything is perfectly manicured; it’s perfect. We didn’t have that,” said Stickler. “It’s been an interesting progression to watch the change in the sport.”

Stickler was self-taught. And he learned how to snowboard by skateboarding.

“You know, I did a lot of pools and ramps,” he said. “I liked it because I liked getting air later on.”

Byron Stickler taught himself well. Growing up in central California, he traveled all over the state. In 1997, he won a national championship in slopestyle.

“My dream day is there’s two feet of fresh powder that’s super cold. There’s no wind, and snow is just slightly coming down,” said Stickler. “You look at the run in front of you and nobody’s touched it.

“That’s the best feeling of it.”