Every two years, college athletes from around the world compete at the World University Games. This year, snowboarder Joey Binder ’18 will represent Cornell and Team USA in the Games’ 2019 Winter Universiade, set to begin March 2 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
The World University Games or “Universiade,” organized by the International University Sports Federation, is the largest university winter multi-sport competition in the world, drawing thousands of student athletes from over 50 countries to a different city every two years, according to the FISU website.
Based in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, the 29th Winter Universiade this year will run March 2-12 and will include sports from skiing to ice hockey. To be eligible, a prospective competitor must be between the ages of 17 and 25 and registered at a university or have graduated within the year before the event.
Binder, who fell in love with snowboarding at age four, will contend in the Snowboard Cross Competition on March 2 EST. The event involves four to six snowboarders competing for the fastest time on the same course, according to Binder.
His participation in the event is over two years in the making. He first learned of the Universiade as a sophomore while watching Far From Home, a documentary about Ugandan snowboarder Brolin Mawejje, but studying abroad in 2017 prevented Binder from participating.
Since then, Binder has participated in a couple of other snowboarding competitions in preparation, though none have compared to the Games.
“It’s like my first international competition and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Binder told The Sun.
Snowboarding has been a huge part of Binder’s life. He attended High Cascade snowboarding camp in Mt. Hood, Oregon for several years, where he met big names in snowboarding such as Shaun White, Jamie Anderson and Red Gerard.
“I think what hooked me was that it just looked cool, and many people weren’t doing it back when I was little,” Binder said.
While at Cornell, snowboarding continued to play a major role in Binder’s life. Hoping to raise awareness for snowboarding culture, he founded Big Red Boarders — Cornell’s first dedicated snowboarding club — in 2016.
“I really wanted to build a community of snowboarders on campus,” Binder said, which he did through screening films and live-streaming events.
The club started out small, but by the time Binder graduated it boasted a membership of around 90 students.
Hoping to attend medical school in the future, Binder is currently taking a gap year and ultimately seeks to pursue a career in oncology, plastic surgery or sports medicine. “I have a lot of experience with [athletics] and I think it would be really cool specifically to help extreme athletes,” Binder said.
Binder will compete on March 2 at 10:30 p.m. EST, and will be livestreamed.