Seth Wescott lists all the injuries he’s suffered in the name of snowboarding the same way you might talk about what you had for breakfast: casually, like it’s no big deal.
And to him, it’s not.
“I’ve blown out both knees...in 2012, I tore my right pectoral muscle right off the humerus bone,” he tells SHAPE. “Then I badly shattered the radius in my left arm, so I have 13 screws and a plate there.”
Now, he’s seven months removed from a broken tibia and a torn ACL. You might think that after four injuries, three Olympic games, and two Olympic gold medals, the 37-year-old Wescott would be ready to hang up his boots and call it a day, but you’d be mistaken.
His career spans almost two decades and is dotted with notable achievements: Last year, he won the Mount Baker Banked Slalom (the oldest-running race in the sport); he’s won three silver medals at the Winter X Games, and in 2005, he won gold at the FIS Snowboarding World Championships in Whistler.
The snowboard veteran has been busy off the slopes too. Four years ago, he started his own East-coast version of the Mount Baker Banked Slalom, and this winter, he got involved with Protect Our Winters, an organization dedicated to uniting those in the global snow sports community to lead the fight against climate change. Oh, and he owns a bar in Sugarloaf, ME.
“There’s a lot of things I still want to do,” he says. “There are so many opportunities that I’ve had because of my Olympic success, and they’re becoming more and more fun for me to get involved in. I’ve learned that I could have a big impact on the sport and on the industry, and those are the things right now that are really feeding me.”
However, that doesn’t mean his focus has wavered from the Olympics. Wescott’s been hitting the slopes and the gym hard. The only man to have won gold in the Olympic snowboard cross events both in Torino and Vancouver (the sport is relatively new to the Olympics), Wescott’s hoping to repeat that feat in Sochi this February.
“I always see the injuries as temporary setbacks, where, you know, you have to go and get your surgery, and you start your therapy process, and then you pick away toward rebuilding where you want to be,” he says. “As painful and disruptive as they are to your overall pattern of athletics, I have never questioned any of it.”
When Wescott last injured himself, a good friend flew out to Alaska to visit him, and told Wescott, “This is perfect. You can retire batting a thousand at the Olympics.”
“And I told him, ‘No way,’” Wescott says. “I don’t want to stop. You battle back from injuries, and to get back to being healthy and to get back to where you were because you love it so much.” —Alanna Nuñez