In Torino, Seth Wescott won gold in the Olympic debut of men's snowboard cross. The pensive, 33-year-old veteran hopes to repeat in his unpredictable discipline after claiming silver at the World Championships in 2007.
Can you recall the moment when you crossed the finish line after winning gold in Torino and got mobbed by your teammates?
It was pretty amazing because it was so euphoric at the moment right after crossing that I don't think I processed a lot of that. But having seen video of it now, and thought back to it, it was a pretty powerful thing for me, to see how genuinely happy, and excited, and thrilled my teammates were. You know, everyone goes to the Olympics, and it's everyone's dream to be the winner. And to have watched those guys get knocked out a round before, or two rounds before, and truly go from having to admit the defeat of their not being able to accomplish their goal, of all the training, all the hours, the qualifying - I mean, these guys were on years and years of a journey, to get to that moment, too, and-and it didn't happen for them. But to see that they could so quickly put that aside, and be so truly happy for the fact that their teammate had accomplished that, is something that really moved me.
You've had some memorable adventures big mountain riding in Alaska over the years. Can you describe that feeling of being dropped out of a helicopter onto a mountain and riding down?
I like it. It's so simplified for me. You're just able to go out in nature and do whatever it is you want. You're not running down course and it's so nice to, you know it's a big time investment for the amount of days that you get to ride but you get to push yourself a lot harder than you do in competition. Competition is pretty restrictive as far as how the course is designed or built or as to whether it's fun to ride or not fun to ride. Everything up there is fun to ride, it's also scary as hell and you have moments where you're freaking out before you drop in to something but it's that feeling of committing to a line and getting out of the helicopter on top of it, and looking at your digi camera and trying to reverse everything in your mind like "Okay, I got to turn around this thing here."
So you have the line planned out?
Yeah, you can shoot a still of it and have your game plan. You do a lot of waiting on top of the peaks too because you'll get on to something before the light has come on to the face. Because you don't want to ride stuff that has been baking in the sun because then you're avalanche dangerous going up so it's a lot of time management during the day. And it's long days. We could go out at 8:00 in the morning and you could be out until 8:30 at night. So it's a lot of time being out in those elements and it's kind of weird because you ramp yourself up and your best days maybe you're getting like eight runs in but eight runs of 12 hours you're going through these crazy peaks and valleys of emotions of sitting around being bored having lunch down on a glacier and then like gripped with fear and like "billy-goating" yourself into some line because the helicopter couldn't put you in the right place to get into it. It's an emotional mood swing throughout the entire day.
What's the longest ride you've had?
The bigger runs up there can get up to 4,500 vertical and on the big ones like that there's usually what you call exposure, that you know there's cliff bands and stuff like that so there's no fall zones, I mean everything is really a no-fall zone, but you asses the risk of where your route's going to go and you try to dissect that and recreate with your body what you thought you could do in your mind when you were looking at if from down below.
Can you explain what you mean when you've referred to your "powder retirement plan"?
It's just kind of a joke in the snowboarding industry. Guys like Craig Kelly have kind of set a standard of moving out of competition at a certain point in your professional career and ultimately doing what it is that you want to do, and pretty much I want to go ride powder. So eventually there's some transition to trying to fill more and trying to spend more time in your summer instead of competing. And after Vancouver I want to take a couple of years and do the big mountain Freeride World Tour and shift gears for a little while to take a break from the World Cup more or less, but still be pursuing competition but then in the free ride venue so that I can have a mental breather from the World Cup stuff to try to get ready for 2014.
So you're definitely setting your sights on competing in Sochi?
Yeah, I'd like to. It'd be a good end point competitively for where I was age-wise, and watching Shaun Palmer come back, he would have been that same age for Torino and he was riding super strong then. And I think that bodily-wise I can do it.
Compiled by Matt Stroup, NBCOlympics.com
As the pilot for the USA-1 bobsled, I broke a 62-year gold medal drought when my sled, the 'Night Train" won the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A degenerative eye condition nearly caused me to quit my sport in 2008, but corrective surgery restored my vision to 20-20.