People’s ideas of Olympic athletes are all pretty similar, training all the time, eating well, no unhealthy vices, staying focused, etc. Most athletes who compete in the Olympic arena are, but I feel freestyle snowboarders may be an exception, especially this halfpipe team.
Our team is sort of the underdogs of all the disciplines Canada Snowboard governs over. Not only was the team given the smallest budget of all the teams in the national program but it is also the only team with two members who were not on the national team at the start of the season, somewhat rogue doing their own program, (Crispin, my coach, and me) until the Olympic team was named. Canada Snowboard even told us halfpipe riders that they might not even bother sending a halfpipe team to these Games due to what they thought was a lack of performance.
I am sure it was a surprise when we qualified the same amount of spots the other teams did with insufficient funding or real concern. But maybe it was the low expectations that were needed to succeed. The pressure was off the riders, funding agencies were not shoving outcome goals down athlete’s throats, and we could all think of what was important. The process.
These fellow athletes who I now travel with have become the hardest working ones I know; changing habits, fundraising, working, and doing what it takes in all realms of life to make it happen to earn their spot on the Olympic team. We have grown into multifaceted athletes who have done and can do everything.
It’s not a wonder to me why we may have unorthodox approach to sport after seeing us all work though this past Olympic cycle. I am proud to be with people who know how to balance healthy amounts of fun and work. Like going soul riding, powder riding, in a beautiful place like Laax instead of just beating ourselves up in the halfpipe. We get stuff done when it needs to get done.
It’s also nice to finally be recognized by our governing body for all the hard work we have put in, staying in a comfortable hotel with good food around us, massages, and daily physio is a nice compensation that makes it seem worth it.
But we are not the normal athlete, we are not scared to have a drink, play a joke on someone, eat rich foods, laugh, or ride out of bounds, because in this whole process it is important to stay human, and not to forget to smell the roses while on the road to Sochi.