Seth Wescott: Close But No CigarFeb 03 2007 / Aspen, CO
Seth Wescott was the first man ever to win an Olympic gold medal for snowboard cross. He rode to the honor in Torino in 2006, and helped put the discipline on the map. But although Wescott has been attending Winter X for over ten years, he has never won an X Games gold medal for Snowboarder X. He’s taken the gold in UltraCross, where riders are paired up with a skier, but never in SBX.
Lat34: You didn’t quite get the gold medal here. Are you bummed?
Seth: I’m a little bummed. It was kind of a case of me not being motivated yesterday coming back to bite me in the ass because I had a bad time trial. I think had I had more of the inside gates today it would have been easier to pull the whole shot. Palmer pinched me on the first feature so I had to kind of back off a little bit instead of DQ-ing and going through the gate.
Lat34: Right, Shaun Palmer did beat you in time trials. Did you know he still snowboards?
Seth: Yeah, I know. I’ve been snowboarding with him this year. He’s been riding really well. He still hasn’t beaten me yet though. He’s an old man, you know.
Lat34: So you won an Olympic gold. Did that change you life at all?
Seth: It makes your life super busy. It definitely changes it. That was kind of my whole focus for last year was to go get that done, and I did, so that was good. It made me not be able to train for this winter, so I am all out of shape, feeling lazy. It’s an amazing experience. It’s definitely life changing. I traveled all summer doing follow up stuff for it and a lot of the fall as well. You lose out on having a private life for quite a while and now things are settling back down a little bit. It kind of seems like things are getting back to normal, and I am just going snowboarding again.
Lat34: For the average person, who only sees you on TV, it seems like this is your whole life. But what kind of stuff do you do when you’re not competing?
Seth: I have a restaurant that I own at home that I am always busy with. It’s called the Rack. It was originally the Ski Rack Ski Shop at Sugarloaf for 20 years and then the Sugarload Brewing Xompany for 14 years and then me and two of my friends took it over last October. It’s going well. It’s fun, but it’s definitely time consuming. When I’m at home I’m definitely busy with that all the time, and my whole house project has kind of been on the back burner since the Olympics happened. Hopefully this year I can start building on that. Having time to surf or do other things that I like to do, just enjoy the summer time because traveling all the time for snow kind of burns you out on it a little bit. I like to enjoy surfing in the summer and skateboarding and just hanging out with my friends at home.
Lat34: You mentioned your house. I heard you are building a log cabin. What inspired you to do that?
Seth: One of my good friends that I am partners in the restaurant with has this amazing place. His dad was a folk musician in the late 60s and 70s and he died in a plane crash in ‘81. But he has this amazing log cabin that his father built and he lived in and it was kind of a family project. It’s just something, I’ve done construction for a couple years and knowing how to do it, I want to build my own place to live. I’ve got 21 ½ acres of land to do it on in this beautiful part of the mountains in Maine. I’ve got a river that flows through my property. It’s cool.
Lat34: So you’ve never moved out of Maine, which is weird for a pro snowboarder to stay east. Why haven’t you gone west?
Seth: For me, I travel all the time in the winter and I will probably never really spend my winters there because I love powder and it doesn’t really happen on the east coast anymore. I love the summer times there, a lot of life long friends are still in the area so for me that the most important thing, is being with people in life that I care about and having a nice mellow, place to go home to when I have downtime.
Lat34: Now the really important question. You’re looking a little scruffy today, but usually you still rock the soul patch, and it seems like a lot boardercrossers do. Do those things make you go faster?
Seth: I don’t know if they make you go faster. A lot of it’s out of laziness for me, I haven’t shaved all week so I’m scruffy. But I guess I’m kind of stuck in a pattern.
Lat34: What’s your take on Shaun Palmer competing again? Is it good to compete against him?
Seth: Oh yeah. He’s still an amazing athlete. What gets me super inspired is the fact that he’s doing that at 38. I was 29 when I won the Olympics and that means that pretty much I can go back and win two more Olympics. He came on really strong last year when he came back. The first world cup he showed up at, I was the only guy in the world that beat him both at time trials and the finals. So it’s cool, I think people like himself and Tony Hawk really inspire me that there isn’t necessarily an age limit that has to be on all this. I mean the halfpipe’s always gonna be dominated by young kids but for me a lot of my focus is shifting towards freeriding and doing big mountain stuff. I spent the last four springs in Alaska and definitely trying to follow Jeremy Jones path and that direction and then doing this in the winter time. This is kind of like my day job of snowboarding and then I get to go have fun and explore and look for powder. I wanna try to find a balance. I still have fun racing so as long as I’m having fun with it-- it’s a good way to make a living.
Lat34: Is there anything left that you haven’t done that you really want to do?
Seth: I want to win the X Games! I still have goals. I wanna win the World Cup overall for a season. Maybe this is the year. Today was my worst result of the year so far, third. I won both the Jeep events so far, and second at the World Championships. The World Cup season, because of all the early cancellations, is down to like 4 events in the spring. I’m pretty motivated to go after that. I wasn’t going to compete after X Games this year but because most of the season was cancelled, and having obligations to the US Team, I need to do at least one of them, and if I go to one, it’s only like two more weeks to do them all. That’s maybe the shift in focus this year and I’ll get more time to freeride next year.
Seth Wescott ended up third in the boarderX at the X Games. Not exactly the first place finish he hoped for, but he was stoked to be on the podium nonetheless. Click here for more X Games stories.