Seth Wescott became a legend in 2006, when he won the gold medal in snowboard cross at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. It was both his and the sport's Olympic debut, and Wescott jumped out to several leads so long he was pulling tricks while his competition tried to catch up. In case anyone doubted his dominance, Wescott repeated his golden performance four years later in Vancouver. Now, the 37-year-old Mainer is Sochi-bound and determined to three-peat.
Wescott's sport – a high-octane race that came into its own as an X Games staple – isn't for the timid. Snowboard cross pits four racers wearing full-face helmets against each other on a steep, narrow course though berms, rollers, and jumps. High-speed collisions are the norm.
Wescott, at six-foot-one, 195-pounds, is known for his brains as well as his brawn. In the 2010 Winter Olympics finals, Wescott found himself with the worst possible start position due to a mediocre qualifying time. Instead of chasing the field, he let his competitors get out in front then methodically reeled them in, one by one. He overtook Canadian Mike Robertson on the final two turns for the gold.
When he isn't competing, Westcott prefers to avoid tight quarters and heads toward wide-open spaces. He travels the world in search of pristine backcountry where he can carve fresh lines. When he gave us the lowdown on his favorite places to ride, the conversation spanned four continents and was punctuated by enthusiastic exclamations. The man likes what he does.
Alaska was the first place where Seth Wescott really got into backcountry snowboarding. For the past 11 seasons, he's returned every April. He's typically based in Cordova, a small fishing village on the east side of Prince William Sound. Besides being a warm, unpretentious community, Cordova offers easy access to the Chugach Mountains with Points North Heli-Adventures.
"Cordova has a different setup than, say, Valdez where there's a bunch of heli-operators," says Wescott. "In Cordova, it's 1,500 square miles of terrain and just one permit – it's awesome."
The Chugach Mountains rise 10,000 feet from the ocean and can get more than 50 feet of snow in one season. Wescott says he continues to find new lines there every year and that Points North makes for a formidable partner in his quest to ride new terrain. But the best thing about Cordova is the variety. "You can do superlong glacier runs that are relatively flat or get really crazy on the steeps, and everything in between," he says.
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