Father and Son: The Finestone Interview

Aug 9, 2013 at 6:00
Aug 9, 2013
by Mike Berard  
 
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All photos by Brian Finestone

bigquotes10-year-old Finn Finestone has been raising eyebrows for several years. He absolutely slays every kind of riding, including BMX, skate park, dirt jumps and, of course, the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. It makes sense...Finn's dad Brian happens to be the Whistler Mountain Bike Park Manager. I chatted with Brian and Finn to get a better idea how this father and son shred team work together. - Mike Berard


What is your background in biking?
I have been involved in the WMBP since 2000, first as the safety guy and then as manager from 2007. I didn’t grow up racing, but always wanted to, BMX was on my radar as a kid but there was no track where I grew up. I raced rigid mountain bikes in the early 90’s, it was rough on the body, no pads, no suspension, high speeds and sketchy Styrofoam helmets.

When did Finn first ride a bike? And when did he first catch the bug to be a mountain biker?
Finn started riding at age three. We missed the first wave of the run-bike revolution by a year or two. Finn rode for a couple of weeks with training wheels and then told me to take them off when our neighbor gave him a full-face moto helmet and some Fox moto pants. We told him they were magic pants that would help him ride on two wheels, so he put on the suit and just rode away. Later that day we built a jump, I guess there was some magic in those pants. Mountain biking was a given, Finn has grown up watching Crankworx, both turned 10 this year, so there has definitely been an influence watching the best riders, live in person for as long as you can remember.


How the heck has Finn cultivated such style at such a young age, and has it been a concentrated effort to perfect style?
I truly think style is something you are born with. Finn has always watched the best riders in the world very closely and recognizes their style. He has an innate ability to look at two different riders whether it’s cornering or doing the same air and identify the one with better style.

Clearly, Finn’s success is a result of a close bike-centric relationship between the two of you. How many days a week do you ride together?
Finn’s abilities are the direct result of practice time. We ride different stuff all the time, it’s random really, not some bike training regimen. We ride skateparks, pumptracks, race BMX, pedal XC and DH, or else we just go skateboarding. We just have fun together doing things and I guess the aggregate result is his skill set. We probably ride some sort of bike daily during the summer months.

Brian, you mentioned to me that Finn recently won the “Target Outstanding Camper” award at Woodward for “good spirit and sportsmanship.” You also said it was what made you proudest. As a parent, is it a challenge to maintain his expectations when he rides at such a high level?
Abbie and I are proud of Finn’s tenacity. It takes motivation and a serious work ethic to get to where he is today. A parent can’t make a child love something, all you can do is provide the opportunities and if they take to it, support them in any way you can. It is not about spending money on bikes, it is about spending time with your kids. Finn is pretty humble for his skill set, he is always looking for kid’s videos on You Tube to see what other riders are up to and get inspired to try new things. He loves to ride, plain and simple, and will ride with anyone of any age and have fun. Finn is competitive in nature and seems to thrive under competition pressure situations, often landing completely new tricks he has never done before. That trait is important but we watch it closely and put zero importance on results at this stage. What is important is that you had fun, tried your hardest and lost or won gracefully. Burnout is something we want to avoid, but I think we are lucky with the seasons here, as biking gets to its peak we switch to snowboarding each year so there is always something fresh coming around the bend.


Most of Finn’s coverage is park or jump based, but clearly he must ride single track and bike park if he’s your son. When and where is Finn at his happiest?
I think the bulk of the coverage is skate park and dirt jump based because those are easy places to shoot. We ride everything and I guess stopping while riding DH and XC kind of blows the flow. Finn is happy any time he is riding, no single discipline stands out yet, most days we do a mix of all of them, Bike Park laps in the morning, skate park / dirt jumps in the afternoon followed by an Airdome session and some pump-track on the way home.

The future seems to be bright for Finn. What mantra would you say the two of you follow most closely going into the future?
The future is full of options. Finn could certainly make a career as a cycling athlete if he chooses to – there is plenty of time. The only mantra we try to follow is “Keep it fun”, if he is getting frustrated with a trick, I try to get him to leave it alone for a while and come back to it, sometimes you just have to try “softer”.


Finn, a quick 10 questions for you...

1. Who are your favourite riders?

My favorites are Brandon Semenuk, Brett Rheeder, Danny McAskill, and Cam McCaul for tricks. I like Brendan Fairclough, Stevie Smith and Aaron Gwin for racing and Kurt Sorge, Graham Agassiz and Thomas Vanderham for big mountain riding.

2. What do you enjoy most about riding?
That’s a hard one, I don’t know how to answer that…it’s just fun.

3. What's your pre-riding ritual (if you have one)?
I don’t have one, I just drop in and ride.

4. What's the next trick you'd like to learn?
I have a few; bar spins, flips to dirt, and 360s.

5. Who has the best style in mountain biking?
Brandon Semenuk easily.

6. Who has the best style in BMX?
I liked Daniel Dhers in the X Games.

7. What's better, speed or air?
Air!

8. If you had to choose one style of bike (BMX, hard-tail, DH, DJ, trail) for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Dirt Jump bike I guess, because I could ride it in pump tracks, skate parks and dirt jumps.

9. How long will it be until you are beating your dad down the mountain?
Already happened, he tried to film my last Phat Wednesday race and you can only see me for a few seconds.

10. Favorite Trail?
I would pick Top of the World to Khyber Pass because you can only do it sometimes, otherwise A-Line which you can ride any time.


Finestone Sponsors: Lil’ Shredder Bikes, Troy Lee Designs, Chromag, Shimano, Sandbox Helmets, Oakley, Five Ten, Fox Suspension, Evolution Shop and Leatt Brace.
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75 Comments

  • + 77
 Well I guess when your Dad's the owner of the Bike park that's another reason why he's good, I don't really think he's ''born with style'' it's just he grew up riding bikes, whereas a lot of people have only discovered bikes later, if you begin riding at an early stage,and have access to all that, no wonder you'd be so good, so he's not really naturally stylish, he's just been riding most of his life. Kid's got tons of style though.
  • + 23
 Bike park manager != owner. I agree that he has a ton of advantage, though. Riding in the park for just six days last year accelerated my riding skill set so much, I can only imagine where I'd be if I had ridden the park daily for the past seven years...
  • + 1
 Same thing man haha. Sure he's got tons of talent, I just think he's a bit over rated compared to some of the other little shredders there is out there. But yeah, being close to the Bike Park would improve your skill set so much.
  • + 3
 This kid is good too. You see on the second pic at the top, Finn is doing a little whip on a 10ft table top. And this 10yr old is doing a 1-foot table on a 30ft step down. www.pinkbike.com/photo/9720623
  • - 1
 He got POD one time and it wasn't even that good? Like with all the attention I honestly hope he doesn't get cocky...
  • + 0
 @Kieran-Young - I strongly disagree with you when it comes to style. Style is something you are born with. Even the smallest things from walking down the street, pushing on a skateboard or riding a bike (shown here) will show someone's natural movements, AKA "style" that feel right to them. Look at Brandon Semenuk. He oozes style that comes natural to him. You can work on and improve "skills", but with style, you either have it or you don't. This kid rips, is stylish and stoked to have access to the bike park. Don't hate.
  • + 11
 @danyul Brandon Semenuk has been riding for years, he didn't just hop on a bike and naturally look the way he does now. Saying style is something you have or don't have is not really accurate.
  • + 4
 This kid and Jackson goldstone are both being marketed by their parents. It's not necessarily "pressure" on them but for sure it's their dads living vicariously through them. It happens in every sport. Do you think a kid is asking his dad "hey dad lets go out and ride and take a bunch of pictures and video of me and post it on pinkbike or Facebook". Yeah, ok. Kids want to ride, not be Internet sensations at that age. The dads want that and the ego stroke that goes along with it. The kid did answer honestly. He just wants to ride. It's his old man that wants to follow with a camera.

Article by mike Berard. All photos by his dad. Nuff said
  • + 23
 The father is proud of his son, and I'm sure the kid loves to shoot some vid and photos; Most people do. He wants the best for his child. Is there anything wrong with that?
  • + 14
 this guy knows^
  • + 2
 @spankthewan. so posting vids and articles about your son on the internet is wanting the best for your kid? i have 4 kids and i dont post anything about them online because i dont want them to grow up being attention whores and im not one. what good comes out of putting up stuff about your little kids online? it does nothing to keep their egos in check and it just opens the door for criticism or people blowing smoke up their arse. nothing wrong with riding with your kids and taking pics and vids for "their" enjoyment. only a doosh posts it online so people can say "oh look at that kid, he's awesome". i think my kids are awesome, i dont need internet nobodies to think it to stroke my ego.
  • + 2
 My nephew is 9 and he's been riding mountain bikes since he was four. I couldn't imagine how good of a rider he would be if he had the resources that Finn has.
  • + 10
 "Do you think a kid is asking his dad "hey dad lets go out and ride and take a bunch of pictures and video of me and post it on pinkbike?" Yeah I do think that, I have 2 boys, 6 and 9, and they love making videos of their riding, helping with the editing and making a sound track. With regard to Finn and his dad, I have had the pleasure of meeting them on a few occasions, and my kids have had the opportunity to ride with Finn. Just last week while in Whistler my kids and I were at a pump track while Finn and his dad were there, I talked to his dad for 45 minutes while the kids rode together, Finn let both of my kids try his Lil Shredder dirt jump bike. Both Finn and his dad are very nice, without any pretence.
  • + 2
 Starting at about the same age I totaly disagree some people are naturaly smooth and flowy but some people work really hard to get it. For years all my tricks looked stiff and robotic, eventually I practiced and got better looks like this kid worked pretty hard.that being said I grew up poor and unable to go to awesome bike Parks and have nice bikes but it made me better. But I bet if this kid was poor with a Walmart special and a dirt lot he'd be just as good and more importantly still happy
  • + 5
 This little guy looks up to Finn! www.pinkbike.com/photo/9927805 He just turned 4. He always wants to watch mtb videos but he gets most excited when it's Finn or Jackson and he get super pumped and says "they're little like me!" so honestly I'm stoked that the parents are taking video and photos because these kids are inspiring other little shredders!
  • + 0
 It seems to me, all the comments are from dads who think this kid is cool, or jealous kids who aren't cool. I've got two kids myself, and I don't see a negative side to this. He lives in Whistler, his dad is the bike park manager. This is the perfect sport for him. Imagine if he hated bikes and just wanted to play golf, or beach volleyball. That would be a parental nightmare. As it is, he's making the most of what he has. As for sponsorship - great! His dad doesn't have to buy his bikes or gear.

Even if being in the media turns him into a wanker so what? There are a lot of wankers out there who have never had an article about them on Pinkbike. Hell, some people think I'm a wanker and I don't care.

If being pushed too hard makes him hate the sport by age 14 and then he ends up going out and getting a real job, so what? It's better to be good at something and give it up because the passion dies, than it is to never be good at anything.

Finn, you are an inspiration to all dads and kids. I would advise you to take up golf on financial grounds, but if you stick with bikes great!
  • - 2
 I'm gonna guess that this guy doesn't have kids? There's nothing they want more than for you as their dad to take photos of them doing awesome stuff and show as many people as you can.
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  • + 24
 2. What do you enjoy most about riding?
That’s a hard one, I don’t know how to answer that…it’s just fun.

Finally someone I can relate to on PinkBike. A 10 year old.
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  • + 12
 Jesus, this kid gets more coverage than most of the top pros. Hopefully he isn't pushed too hard to the point of being burnt out on mtbing like Strait did a while back... the wonder child of fat tires. It'll be interesting to see how he develops as a rider.
  • + 5
 If you read it , his mam and dad don't push him , they let him have fun and don't care about results just that as long as he "wins and loses gracefully" and his dad specifically said that they snowboard in winter instead of riding which is good because he doesn't want him to burn out.
  • + 7
 yeah, in like the 5th feature on him in pinkbike they aren't "pushing" him. if they were protecting him, they'd be limiting the coverage the kid gets to keep it "normal" for him.
  • + 2
 Yeah you gotta realize that the parents are never going to admit that they're pushing him in ANY article. That is just bad press. Of course they let him have fun but I bet you 1,000 doll hairs that it wasn't his choice to be raised on a bike before he could walk, and also his parents may not be like "soccer moms" but they do indeed influence his decisions a lot to stay on a bike. Just the fact that they point out he has an off-season on top of all the exposure his parents give him, shows that they're trying really hard to make him successful in the mtb scene.

Anything else is a lie and like I said, I'm excited to see what this kid produces but don't have any illusions that this kid is running under his own steam/passion to ride a bike.
  • + 2
 You's do have a point................hmmmmmmmmm.
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  • + 8
 It is unbelievable how much skill and style those kids have there. I cant wait to see those little rippers when they are about 15 years old, they'll be shredding so hard ! Semenuk won the 2008 Rampage when he was just 15 years old, but i gues those kids gonna be even better
  • + 19
 He was actually 17 not 15, but still insane.
  • + 15
 Yeah, he was 17. I'm 15 and I think I'm a really good rider for what I ride and how old I am, but then I look at kids like this and I'm thinking, "I need to kick it up a notch". However you have to realize that these kids grow up right next to Whistler and have parents that take them out there. If we had that privilege I think we'd be doing most of that stuff too. I'm not saying that this kid doesn't have talent, because he does, but it helps when you live by what is regarded as the best bike park in the world.
  • - 1
 my question is, how does he still ride 24 inch wheels! Im 14 and have had a operator for 2 years and then a stinky for 2 years before that. i have been riding 26 for atleast 4 years in the bike park and 5 year on my xc bike. Still shreds tho
  • + 0
 Semenuk was 18, but Kyle Strait won when he was 15...
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  • + 5
 flame all you want, but it'd be a lot easier to believe this was all just for fun if this wasn't the 4th or 5th article on this kid on pinkbike. or that he didn't already have sponsors and photo and video shoots. biggest issues with kids who start early in any sport and see success early, is taming their egos. showcasing your child almost always leads to issues later. it's not like this kid is flying under the radar, he's being promoted by his father.

and another poster mentioned "these kids" that have style. this article and all the others have been exclusively about finn. it'd be different if the articles were on kids that shred at whistler or anywhere, but they're not
  • + 1
 Could the reason he doesn't have sponsors be that no company wants to take on a kid this young in age for fear or litigation or liability issues. Look at how many companies have recently dropped their sponsored athletes for fear of misrepresentation of the company, the eve increasing beauracracy, and finally fear of legal action. Prime example..............Clif Bars dropped all sponsored athletes in climbing that free climbed meaning without ropes. They dropped them because of recent news stories that put the company in a political position of whether or not free climbing is a reasonable o safe activity to participate in. Another example would be Nike.
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  • + 3
 I tried to get my son into it years ago and he showed promis and enjoyed it a lot .He just didn't get the bug for it tried and tried but no he wanted to walk another path so didn't push him . Point is don't push them to hard if they want to do it they will as above clearly shows . Wish them well what ever they do in life :-)
  • + 1
 Both my stepsons show no interest in climbing whatsoever despite there Dad and Mum both being top level climbers, their Dad pushed them so hard ("I'll pay you to be on the competitive climbing team") that it drove them the complete opposite direction. Their Mum and I are just happy when they are enjoying any sport no matter what it is...
  • + 1
 Halr75: As a person who works with and volunteers with kids petty much exclusively, I see this trend more and more often of parents forcing or aggressively pushing them into activities they don't enjoy. TBH, it makes me sick. But maybe that's b/c my father pushed me too far in sports. Which he still does to this day but for other lifestyle choices. I wish this ever increasing trend would stop but I don't think it will because of the pressure to be a perfect parent and get them ready for a dog eat dog world. That is further complicated by the fact that if you don't win your a loser and since your a loser you suck and aren't worthy of being my kid or representing this family.
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  • + 2
 Finn likes Gwin. Is that treason?

His story would be a good case study for the theories in Gladwell's "outliers." How much of it is natural talent, how much is circumstance?

I'm totally jealous of his situation, but pinkbike has a bit of a creepy old lady crush on this kid.
  • + 1
 I think he's got his 10,000 hours in already . . . .
  • + 1
 Its kinda sad that Finn didn't include Matt Hunter or Martin Soderstrom on that list Frown
  • + 1
 The more and more I read I realize that many professionals or amateur superstars it is apparent that natural talent exists. Though natural talent is helpful it does not mean that through hard work and dedication people can't achieve close to or at the professional level. However, even though everyone can achieve this level of performance, it does not mean that it will happen. The sad truth about society is that many just don't want to put in the work to become great. We as a society more often than not are just plain lazy and don't have the focus or drive to become the greatest person you can be.
  • + 1
 Society also tends to do the following that makes becoming great out of reach by choice:
(a) laziness: We are inactive and it shows based on the high rate of obesity and lack of regular physical activity.
(B) Development of Basic Gross Motor Skills: Humans are made to do certain motions or skills but as with anything with movement if you don't develop it a young age it becomes quite a bit more complicated to learn later in life (especially starting at the pre-teen level and of above.
(C) Safety Regulation: Over-regulation in regards to safety of young people make natural development nearly impossible to occur.
  • + 1
 I could go on but the point is that we are way more capable than we believe. In fact recent research has shown that the majority of people only achieve 25% of their true ability level.
  • + 1
 His father said the following::

"Finn started riding at age three. We missed the first wave of the run-bike revolution by a year or two. Finn rode for a couple of weeks with training wheels and then told me to take them off when our neighbor gave him a full-face moto helmet and some Fox moto pants. We told him they were magic pants that would help him ride on two wheels, so he put on the suit and just rode away. Later that day we built a jump, I guess there was some magic in those pants."
  • + 1
 Shows the following:
(A) At age 3 many children do not have the dexterity and coordination to ride a bike effectively and correctly even with training wheels.
(B) To reach the point of not having training wheels just a few weeks after he started to ride is virtually unheard of. Do most parents wait longer than they should to take of training wheels? Probably but that is a function of societal pressures and anxiety than the kids ability. Either way he obviously picked up learning to ride way quicker then expected.
(C) Making jumps on pretty much the first day without training wheels is virtually unheard of. It usually takes at least 3 or 4 times of riding without training wheels to be comfortable.
(D) More and more parents don't have the skills or patience too teach their kid to ride a bike. It is one of those things that seem to be going out of style. I firmly believe that most people would be shocked at how many kids can't or barely can ride their bike into as far as early elementary school.
  • + 1
 Natural talent is obvious here and to deny that has no basis in reasonable logic. Its just a fact that he learned to ride quicker than probably most kids his age.
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  • + 1
 I firmly believe in the 10,000 hours theory. Stating that if anyone puts in 10,000 hours at anything they will perform that task at professional level. Finn is well on his way. As Macklemore puts it, the greats aren't great not because they were born to paint, they were great because they paint a lot. Keep on riding Finn and show us where this sport can go! I love watching the bar raise.
  • - 6
 I`ve walked for over 10,000 hours and i am not a professional walker so your theory is BS.
But, I have slept for more so maybe my dream of being a professional sleeper has come true.
  • + 4
 You're missing the point. It's actually a pretty well proven theory, if you're doing something that has a profession (unlike walking). 10,000 is more than an entire year.
  • + 1
 10'000 is a very good number to start with but I do think It might take some people a little more and a little less depending on certain factors. Natural talent will only be good in the beginning , after that it's up to you if you want to develop that talent to become better . That's where motivation comes into play among other things.
  • + 1
 That's the point of the 10,000 hour theory. It's that anyone (capable within reason) can become an expert if they put enough time in. 10,000 hours is more than a good start. That would be 5 hours a day, every day, for 5.5 years straight.

For example, I'm a high school teacher and it'll take me 11 years before I reach 10,000 hours of teaching practice. It's a long time.
  • + 1
 regardless of 10000 hrs, everyone has a limit genetically and personally that they can reach no matter the time put in. i believe 10000 hrs will make you the best "you" can be, but that doesn't necessarily mean you will be world class. you will reach your own full potential in 10000hrs. william hung could practice singing for 10000hrs but he'll never be world class
  • + 1
 Ever heard of racewalking?
  • + 2
 True. The natural potential, and desire, has to be there. Point is, Finn's circumstances matter as much (or more than) his natural ability. There must be thousands of kids who could ride a bike that well if they were born in the same circumstances.
  • + 2
 Ha ha. Yeah. Ever seen it? It's a stretch to call it walking!
  • + 0
 "There must be thousands of kids who could ride a bike that well if they were born in the same circumstances."

i completely agree with that statement. he definitely benefits from the fact his dad runs the bike park and that he has access to pros and tutoring and limitless ride time. there are a lot of kids riding out there as well who are as good, you just don't have their parents posting it and if they do, the parents don't have the connections in the industry that get write ups done on websites like pinkbike. i stand by my statement that this kid and jackson are being marketed by their parents. there's a huge difference between taking pics of your kid and posting online as a nobody vs. having enough industry connections to get articles done on a website like pinkbike like finn and jackson get.
  • + 1
 I used to believe in Natural abilities until I read Malcom Gladwell's outliers. What we percieve as natural talent is more likely more hours spent training at an early age.

Although I do agree with qbert2000, there is a genetic limit when talking about physical sports, but until we start genetically engineering kids like in the movie Gattaca, the average kid has a fair chance if they get their 10,000 hours.

Also instruction has to help right? I haven't figured out where I stand on that yet, is instruction just a wash if you have enough hours practicing?

Last point is if anyone had 10,000 hours right now in our young sport, they could dominate. Look at how Carmichael forever changed MX and SX, if it wasn't for his work ethic which was for the most part previously absent from the sport, he wouldn't be GOAT, and people likely wouldn't have to put in the level of effort that they do now.
  • + 1
 i do think people are born with a maximum capacity of natural talent and have a personal limit they can reach. i also believe that with the population rising and income from sports rising one can no longer get by on natural talent alone. look at any sport 20 years ago, people did not work out as hard in the offseason be it baseball or hockey or football. they could coast then on natural ability. now, people train year round for their respective sports. even children. you see more and more kids choose a specific sport soccer for example. in the past kids would play a summer and winter sport. you see that less and less now as to be a top player kids need to practice year round in their respective sport. the soccer player no longer plays hockey in the winter, they play indooor soccer and train so that they will again make the rep team the following year. that tram=nslates acroos the board to the pros. at the end of their seasons pros now evaluate their weaknesses and work on them in the off season innstead of cruising through their off season. the money is too good and there are too many others training for people to slack off. it's more of a numbers game now
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  • + 1
 He inspires me. I think it's fantastic that he does all of this and has such a blast doing it at his age... But age aside, him and the other kids I see at the park remind me that jumping is all about the technique and confidence and not physical strength. I think to myself that I just need to keep practicing and hopefully someday I'll be airing and tricking like these kids. Smile
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  • + 1
 Dope kid. I also started riding at 3 on a two wheeler and have no where near this skill. Props to parents who encourage exercise and the outdoors instead of all video games/digital media.

Can't wait to see him in a few years making the cover with his role models.
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  • + 2
 This little guy called me out on a back flip because I was to scared to do. He said "sometimes you gotta just go for it!" and well he was right.
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  • + 1
 in the uk two bmxers dan and dell, they grown up a bit now but they were around 10ish and doing flairs and flip whips epic to watch someone on a small wheeled bmx doing flips and whips epic.
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  • + 2
 you missed the question: what is it like being one of the luckiest kids in the world
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  • + 2
 Ive met Brian and Finn and they're both super cool people. tonnes of skill and class. Embassadors to the sport.
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  • + 4
 I want magic pants Smile
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  • + 3
 Nice write up. Keep doing what your doing Finn!!
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  • + 2
 I wish i started mtbing at such a young age!
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  • + 1
 Well if that doesn't make me realize how wasted my childhood was then i dunno what will but better late than never
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  • + 2
 This kid rocks!! I wish i had so many sponsoros at his age Wink
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  • + 3
 Finnstagrom for the win!
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  • + 1
 Finn. You da man ! Keep stylin' lil buddy!
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  • + 1
 This kid is going all the way!
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  • + 1
 hes allready got the sweetest sponsors Smile
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  • + 1
 Sounds like a recipe for success...
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  • + 1
 I too ride with my dad but this kid puts me to shame
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  • + 1
 the kid like me 30 years ago, damn .. just in my dream !!! :'(
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  • + 0
 What? No Intern in his list of favorite riders
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  • + 1
 Props little man!!
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