Snowboarder Hojnoski back on board after knee injury


Photo courtesy of Benjamin Hojnoski

Benjamin Hojnoski doing a front blunt on a flat down rail at USASA Nationals.

Maggie Galloway, Editor

Did that guy just do a switch 270 disaster on to a flat down rail…with a backpack on? Must be none other than Sierra Nevada University senior, Benjamin Hojnoski.
Hojnoski’s first introduction to being on snow came when he was 2 years old, skiing at Wachusett mountain in Massachusetts. Snowboarding caught his eye and decided to transition to one piece of wood when he was around 5 years old. By then he was also a skateboarder, so the transition came naturally. The Hojnoskis would take weekend trips up to Mount Snow in southern Vermont where the young grom stumbled across the mountain’s terrain park, Carinthia. For the next seven years, Hojnoski got comfortable in the park and started competing for USASA when he was 12 years old.
“I had the most fun competing in slopestyle and rail jam,” Hojnoski said.
One weekend while riding through Carinthia, Hojnoski met up with one of his friends who went to Mount Snow Academy. Hojnoski took a lap with the team when the coach noticed his skills and style, and invited him to attend. The 15-year-old got approval from his parents and started attending MSA when he was a sophomore in high school.
“MSA was a group of like-minded snowboarders who were looking to further their education and their snowboarding skills,” said Hojnoski, “It was a lot of fun-loving in a house with a bunch of snowboarders my age.”
Hojnoski ended up transferring to American Snowboard Training Center when he was a junior in high school and decided to pursue regular high school when he was a senior, the year his family took a trip out to Lake Tahoe to snowboard at NorthStar California Resort. During the trip, he ended up breaking his collar bone riding through the park. Not being able to ride for the rest of the trip he decided to check out the college nearby, Sierra Nevada University.
“One of my ASTC coaches, Emily Shore, attended SNU for college. As soon as I toured the campus, I knew it was the place for me,” Hojnoski said.
Hojnoski received a snowboard scholarship from the university and began his freshman year in September of 2017.
Competing at local USCSA competitions, Hojnoski qualified for nationals being held in Lake Placid, New York at Whiteface Mountain.
“We had a stacked team at nationals my freshman year,” Hojnoski said. “As a team, we were winning every competition and I personally ended up taking gold in the slopestyle event. I think it was my signature triple-double that really wowed the judges.”
The next year, Hojnoski went on to nationals in Jackson Hole, Wyoming as a sophomore and took third in rail jam.
One day while riding Diamond Peak, Hojnoski’s career took an unexpected turn.
“It was the day before my 21st birthday and I was party-lapping with my friends,” Hojnoski said. “I accidentally hit a very small jump with way too much speed and landed nowhere near the landing. My adrenaline was pumping very high when it happened, so I was unaware that I had a knee injury. I decided to unstrap from my board and try walking around and it felt very weird. I decided to strap back in to ride down and after taking the first turn, my knee clearly couldn’t take it. I ended up riding my snowboard down rest of the hill on my butt like a sled.”
Hojnoski’s friend, Cameron Brod, drove him home from the mountain that day.
“I honestly thought he was just being a huge wimp,” Brod said. “When I realized he couldn’t walk, I felt pretty bad.”
“By the time my knee was ready to be seen by a doctor, COVID-19 hit and everything was shut down” Hojnoski said.
“I finally decided to get knee surgery over the summer when things started to open back up. I had to fly home to Massachusetts and get the surgery in June. My parents decided it was best for me to recover back home for the next month and a half. I started physical therapy two weeks after surgery and I would go twice a week for my remaining time at home.”
Hojnoski returned to Tahoe in August of 2020 to settle in before school was back in session. He continued to do his physical therapy and using the ice-cold lake as a natural recovery element to exercise his knee by swimming.
Hojnoski didn’t expect to be able to snowboard a lot this season.
“I started off preseason by coaching my friends through new tricks on PVC pipes,” Hojnoski said. “It was exciting to watch my friends get excited about landing new tricks.”
Hojnoski went home for Christmas break where he received the best gift he could have ever asked for: A new knee brace and the doctor’s approval to get back on his snowboard.
“Ever since I got back to Tahoe, I’ve been slowly getting back to snowboarding again,” he said. “Nothing can compare to the feeling of strapping in after I didn’t think I was going to be able to snowboard at all this season. Although I need to take it easy, I can still rip pow better than your cool uncle.”
USCSA nationals isn’t happening this year due to COVID-19, but Hojnoski is still training to get back on his A game like he could go back and win it all over again, like he did his freshman year.