My Dream: Slopestyle makes its Olympic debut

Comments by Kelli Lynn Hargrove/

Chas Guldemond | P: Zach Hooper

Chas Guldemond | P: Zach Hooper

THE OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE

The Olympics are more than a contest; they’re an experience, a destination, and they will reveal a transparency in drive and commitment. According to the International Olympic Committee, “The purpose of the Olympic Movement is to link sport with culture and education; promote the practice of sport and the joy found in effort; help to build a better world through sport practiced in a spirit of peace, excellence, friendship and respect.”

With less than a month till the Games kick off, tension is on the rise and anticipation is growing. 2012’s Dew Cup Champion, Spencer O’Brien, the first female snowboarder named to the Canadian team at the end of last season, is starting to feel the pressure this five-ring event is generating. “Snowboarding is such an individual sport,” O’Brien says. “When I’m on course, it’s just me. There isn’t anyone else who can make or break that run, but me.” But what does it mean to now ride for your country? “The idea of competing as part of a larger team, of being a part of team Canada, seems like a really special opportunity,” Spencer says. “I’m excited to represent something other than myself when I snowboard, and I don’t think I’ll ever get that opportunity anywhere else. I like the idea of representing my country.”

Stale Sandbech | P: Gabe L'Heureux

Stale Sandbech | P: Gabe L’Heureux

With all eyes on these athletes who are so deeply rooted in snowboarding, any expectation and pressure will be countered by the proof of their hard work. The highest ranked slopestyle Olympic contender, Mark McMorris, admits that he does feel a bit of weight on his shoulders as the Games get closer. But with confidence McMorris calmly claims, “I’m just trying to do my best. If I do that, I should have a good shot at gold!”

The undeniable excitement about potentially being an Olympian sits well with three-time X Games silver medalist, Hana Beaman. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be a part of something that is bigger than I ever thought I’d have a chance to be a part of,” Beaman says. “I think it’s a little bit of also still wanting to prove myself in the park. I have three silver X Games medals and maybe this is my last attempt to go for it,” Beaman adds.

Spencer O’Brien also sees this as an opportunity to overcome all the hype and just focus on having fun snowboarding. “There are a lot more people involved in it now that it’s an Olympic event,” O’Brien states. “Before, I had my sponsors to represent, but now I have a national team and my entire country to try and make proud. It’s funny, I actually think the snowboarding part will be the easiest part of the Olympics. It’s all the chaos that goes along with it that’s hard to handle.”

One of the USA’s male slopestyle leaders and Olympic hopefuls, Sage Kotsenburg, adds that being part of an event that is so prestigious is going to be an honor. “It’s just rad how only a few people in every discipline from so many different countries gather in one place every few years and just show the world what they’re made of,” says Kotsenberg. “It’s something so many people don’t get to experience.”

“These Games, with all their prestige, will connect cultures with these athletes’ passions, experiences, commitments to progression and love for snowboarding.”

On the next page: Progression | Rise to the challenge

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