Come this February, free-skiing's addition to the Olympic lineup in Sochi, Russia, will bring to the mainstream a sport that has until now existed in the shadows at the sides of the slopes. That means there will be Olympic gold medals at stake in halfpipe and slopestyle, and twin-tipped skis will finally become recognized tools of bona fide Olympians. If there's one free-skier who will capture the hearts and minds of American audiences, it's almost certainly the athlete who put halfpipe skiing on the map in the first place: Simon Dumont.
An X Games mainstay in the halfpipe since he was 15 years old, Dumont is now a 27-year-old veteran with a bucketful of X Games golds to his name. He's largely seen as the godfather of the sport, and was instrumental in the push to get free-skiing and the half pipe into the Olympics. Now, he's in New Zealand recovering from a series of brutal injuries to his ankle and wrists on an accelerated timeline in order to get healthy in time for the Olympics.
"I'm just going to go one step at a time," Dumont says of his chances of competing in the Olympics. "I'm confident, and I've always performed when I've needed to perform. This is the one event that I haven't podiumed in my life, and it's something I want bad." To get us warmed up for the coming Olympic games, Dumont gave 'Men's Journal' a crash course in the art and intricacies of the halfpipe, as well as an insider's view into what to expect at Sochi. Here's what he had to say.
The U.S. should dominate.
Free-skiing may be a brand-new Olympics sport, but it's been a mainstay in X Games competitions for years and so has a well-established crop of talent. "Right now, I'd say the United States, Canada, and France are the three dominant countries," Dumont says. So in addition to Dumont, look to fellow Americans David Wise and Torin Yater-Wallace to be in gold contention, along with Canadian Mike Riddle and France's Kevin Rolland.
Dumont is quick to acknowledge, though, that come the opening ceremonies, anything can happen. It is the Olympics, after all. "There are definitely some dark horses who could get it done," he says.
Credit: Christian Pondella / Getty Images