The top junior snowboarder who lives by the beach
WITH its pristine beaches, a climate that rarely reaches zero degrees, and the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island little more than a stone's throw away, Hervey Bay is one of the last places you would expect to find a premier snowboarder.
Benji Bodie is not your regular Fraser Coast sportsman.
While he plays hockey for Fraser Flames three times a week, the 17-year-old is no stranger to some of the world's prime snowsport destinations.
The teen shredded slopes at Big White, Whistler (the location of the 2010 Winter Olympics), and Fernie, which are located in British Columbia, Canada. He has ventured to Japan, which he said had the most snow, and Aspen Colorado, which has hosted World Cup races.
He recently won the Queensland Interschool title in snowboard grand slalom and was second in snowboard cross to earn the right to represent his state at the Australian Interschool Snowsport Championships at Mt Buller, Victoria.
So how did a Hervey Bay boy develop a love and passion for snowsports and maintain the skills to excel?
"I went to the snow for the first time with my dad when I was five, but I didn't snowboard," he said.
"I was skiing because I was too young to get snowboard lessons, but I always wanted to snowboard."
He snowboarded for the first time two years later.
"It was good to start young, but I'm not really sure (why he wanted to snowboard)," Bodie said.
"Maybe the fact I wasn't allowed to made me want to try it even more."
He faces some obvious disadvantages when compared to southern rivals.
Hervey Bay's temperature rarely hits zero, there's no local snow, and he can't participate in a "dry" sporting equivalent.
"Mostly it's just trying to keep fit," he said.
"There's not anything you can do that's as close as you can get without snow.
"Apparently surfing is pretty similar so a lot of people ask if I surf, but I've never tried. Especially in Hervey Bay, it's too flat."
Instead, Bodie relies on holidays to northern hemisphere destinations to sharpen his skills.
"In the last few years it's been twice a year: a week in the middle of the year and three weeks in the summer holidays we'll go overseas to somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere," he said.
Bodie's national title tilt is scheduled for September 10, but the Year 12 student is unsure if he will compete due to scheduled exams.
His future in the sport is uncertain.
While he is keen to explore a possible future as a pro snowboarder, Bodie admitted he did not know how to pursue the quest.
"You'd have to go into full-on competitions but I'm not sure how to get into it," Bodie said.
"I would like to look into it, but it could be quite expensive."