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North Carolina snowboarder scores big points in push to make Olympics

Luke Winkelmann finished third at the Calgary Snow Rodeo

Blowing Rock native Luke Winkelmann found himself on his first World Cup podium last weekend in Calgary.

On his first slopestyle run at the FIS Snow Rodeo, the 21-year-old earned a score of 83.2, good enough for third place at the international event.

In slopestyle, a rider goes down a course which includes obstacles like rails, jumps and terrain park features.

The finish will help Winkelmann in his quest to make the U.S. Olympic team for Beijing at next month's Winter Games.

Winkelmann spoke with WCNC Charlotte a few days after his big accomplishment.

"That was a huge moment for me in the standings for the Americans," he said. "I think it puts me pretty good in to that top five that have the potential to go."

Winkelmann will continue his push for the Olympics at Laax Open in Switzerland next week, while other riders try and increase their points at the Olympic qualifier at Mammoth Mountain in California.

Winkelmann is unique in the sport, with a style all his own.

That comes from growing up at Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock, riding as much as he could.

While the slopes there might not provide some of the big jumps that others train on at places like Telluride and Breckenridge, it allowed Winkelmann to develop a style specific to him.

"Here in North Carolina we have such small mountains, this little park scene," he said. "I have a lot of passion for rails, because that's all we grew up on. I think have a much more rail, and more street style."