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.
The Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica
In 2011, Seth Wescott made his first ski trip to Antarctica with Squaw Valley-based Ice Axe Expeditions. Owner Doug Stoup runs the expedition every two years, and, though Wescott couldn't go this year due to Olympic obligations, he's planning to be on the 2015 trip.
"The Antarctic Peninsula was like nothing I've ever experienced," he says. "You're hiking for all your turns in unbelievable mountains and having this incredible nature experience."
During his 11-day adventure, Wescott saw killer whales, a variety of seals, and "tens of thousands" of penguins. The group lived on a boat, and they'd wake up each morning at a new bay with completely different snow conditions. Depending on the wind, the snow ranged from powder to ice. But Wescott's biggest adventure was making it back to South America over the notoriously rough Drake Passage.
"We were on a 300-foot boat that's seven stories tall and for several hours we were routinely putting the bow into the water," he says. "The waves must have been 40 or 50 feet. It was terrifying."
Credit: Getty Images