With one parent from NZ and one from the USA, we're stoked that Rakai chose to ride for Aotearoa. "It is such a great honour to be selected to represent the nation of my heritage, and I hope to make New Zealand proud," he says. Rakai was named to the NZ team to compete at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang where he finished 26th in Snowboard Halfpipe.
Hometown: Eagle, CO
Career highlights: 2018 Winter Olympian; Representing NZ at the 2016 Youth Olympic Winter Games
When Rakai was seven years old his family moved to Leysin, Switzerland from Waimea, Hawaii. Rakai was an avid skater and had always wanted to get on a snowboard. His dad put him on a board and gave specific instructions not to hit the small kicker at the bottom. Since it was his first time ever snowboarding, chances were he wasn't going to make it that far anyway. Or so you'd think...
"I guess I just sent it anyway, no turns or speed checks, since I didn’t even know how to do that. After that, I was hooked."
When Rakai relocated to the mountains, in Vail, USA he began competing as often as possible, taking in all the Rev Tour stops in halfpipe and slopestyle. Strong results at these events saw him qualify for the 2016 Youth Olympic Winter Games where he finished sixth in halfpipe and 13th in slopestyle.
Rakai then began competing on the World Cup circuit and was selected to compete at the FIS Snowboard World Championships. He met the Olympic nomination criteria and was selected as a member of the 2018 NZ Olympic Team to PyeongChang.