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Adventure : Athletes

Young Blood: Nik Baden

AGE: 15
SPORT: Snowboarding

“I’m on my way to New Zealand to go snowboard,” USASA snowboard team member Nik Baden says into the phone. “I might lose service in like 15 minutes.”

The jet-setting 15-year-old was en route to Cardrona Alpine resort for the World Cup, where he competed in slope style on August 19. “I feel really ready, really confident,” he says. “It should be a really competitive field—most of the best riders. I’m definitely a little bit nervous, but it should be good.”

Baden already has more than a decade of snowboard experience under his belt; he started snowboarding on his fourth birthday. “I learned it pretty quick,” he says of that day on Mount Warner, in Steamboat, Colorado. “I definitely struggle with different things, but usually there’s not one thing in particular that’s really hard to do.”

That’s probably because Baden practices just about every day—if not on a snowboard, then in some other capacity. “I like to skateboard and jump on the tramp and bike and do lots of different training,” he says.

Hopefully all that training pays off, not just at the World Cup but further down the road. “For the next season, my goal is just to compete with the best guys and be competitive with them,” he says. “Whether that means making the Olympic team or not, I’m going to be happy either way.”

Fellow snowboarder and 2014 Olympic hopeful Benji Farrow is optimistic, though, calling Baden’s cad double 12 the “best in the game for sure.” Check it out here.

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Young Blood: Mirko Caballero

AGE: 12
SPORT: Climbing

“I got into climbing mostly because everyone in my family was already climbing, even before I was born,” says 12-year-old Mirko Caballero. “I guess you could say I was born in the gym.”

The thee-time national champion in bouldering is quick to note, however, that he didn’t get serious about climbing until much later—at the ripe old age 7, after a stint as a gymnast, during which he developed good core strength and flexibility.

By age 9, Los Gatos-based Caballero sent his first V10, and the following year sent 20 V8 to V11 problems and his first 5.13a. He’s been a member of the U.S. National Team since 2010, and was named national champion in both bouldering (2011, 2012, 2013), and speed (2011, 2012). Earlier this year he took first in the advanced youth category at the Hueco Rock Rodeo.

Caballero, who emailed Outside while bouldering Magic Wood in Switzerland, says his immediate goals are to better his technique and pure power. “In the past year my power has gotten much better, but I would like to progress even further,” he says. “I like to push myself into harder and harder climbs all the time.”

He’s also branched out from bouldering to sport climbing. “I even tried some big wall climbing in Yosemite this spring,” he says, recognizing that he’s lucky to have supportive parents who allow her to travel. “I've climbed in lots of amazing crags in the USA and Europe, but I really hope I can go to South Africa and Australia soon. There are so many amazing places to climb!”

Follow him at @MirkoCaballero or at mirkocaballero.com.

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Young Blood: Kyle Field

AGE: 13
SPORT: Kayaking

Kyle Field began kayaking when he was 8. Five years later, he’s a member of the Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Racing Team, which just won the national championships in Oklahoma City. Field, whose competition was mostly older than him, won the 200-meter Bantam race. He says the event was his best race to date. “He was a favorite for the 1,000-meter race as well, although a storm destroyed the venue the evening before his race,” says his mother, Lynnette Field.

Keeping up with the older kids has never been a problem for Field. In fact, that’s what motivates him to go faster. “It is fun to compete with my older friends, seeing if I can stay up with them,” says the Washington native. “I have a great group of friends who I really appreciate. “

Field trains year-round. “I have to train in the cold and rain,” he says. “Sometimes this is fun, sometimes it is hard.” Field hopes his dedication will pay off in the long run. “My long-term goals are to race at Junior Worlds and then at the Olympics,” he says. “I’ve seen my brother and friends achieve some of these things, and I know I can do it, too.”

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Young Blood: Jameson Simms

AGE: 14
SPORT: Cycling

Jameson Simms has been riding bikes for half his life. “I began mountain biking at the age of seven with my family,” he remembers. “We started biking at Montgomery Bell State Park; at first the terrain was tough, but my dad never let me give up.”

As those 20 miles around the Tennessee park became easier, Simms, then 10 years old, decided he wanted to start racing. Again, his dad played a motivating role, taking him out on 60-mile gravel grinders on a 'cross bike.

By 13, Simms was training more than 100 miles per week and racing road bikes for his local bike shop team. This year, he’s completed about 30 races to date, including the Tennessee state championships, in which he won the TBRA Jr 10-14 road and mountain races. He also competed in USA Cycling Junior Road Nationals and plans to race this fall with the Tennessee High School Cycling League.

“I hope to race bikes at the collegiate level,” he says. “And maybe pro level one day; my goal is just to keep riding and see how far it takes me.”

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