Ramona Teen Competes in Sochi Among Snowboarding Elite - NBC 7 San Diego
Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

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Ramona Teen Competes in Sochi Among Snowboarding Elite

At 16, Seamus O’Connor is one of snowboarding’s youngest Olympic competitors

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    Ramona Teen Competes in Sochi Among Snowboarding Elite
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    Seamus O'Connor competes in the Men's Slopestyle Qualification during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 6, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

    A Ramona teenager is competing on the world’s stage in Sochi, Russia but flying under the radar of the American media because he is competing for the country of Ireland.

    Special Section: Sochi 2014

    At 16, Seamus O’Connor is one of snowboarding’s youngest Olympic competitors.

    O'Connor started at age 4 and quickly became a prodigy in the sport.

    O’Connor's parents, Elena and Kevin O’Connor, spoke with NBC 7 at their Point Loma home just hours before their flight to Russia.

    "Within a week he could do the double blacks," said father Kevin O’Connor. “And I was scared to death.”

    The family is a cultural melting pot - Seamus's mom is Russian with Sochi roots.

    "My parents and my parents’ parents all came from Krasnidar and Kranea area which is very close to Sochi," she explained.

    Kevin O'Connor is Irish - which is why Seamus, their youngest of three children was invited to represent the country in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    "I’ve always said he's won by just being able to qualify and get there, he's won. Anything he does now is an absolute bonus," Kevin O’Connor said.

    Seamus is a rarity at these games - one of just a handful of snowboarders to compete in both slopestyle and half pipe.

    Read: Olympian Aims to Compete in 3 Snowboarding Events

    Mike Jankowski, Head Coach of USA Snow Board, said it’s a difficult task.

    "To be able to compete in both sports, Shawn White is the only guy on the U.S. team that’s able to do that, for him to switch gears and compete at both the elite level in both the pipe and slope style events it's a great thing for him and he has a lot of more great things to come," Jankowski said.

    "If he comes home at the end of the week in one piece, I'm happy,” said Kevin O’Connor. “It's an exceedingly dangerous sport. But I also hope he will not embarrass himself and do his level best, it's tough to be sixteen and compete at this level."

    Read: Snowboarders Are Enjoying Olympic Experience

    For the O'Connors, who own a brain injury rehab center in Ramona, Seamus's success has meant traveling to Park City where he trains and around the world.

    "Our life would be completely different. It changed our life. Everything is about Seamus,” Elena O’Connor said.

    “It changed our life, it changed our life," her husband agreed.

    Like most parents - his dreams are their dreams - and the Olympics rings are beyond the wildest any of them ever expected.