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 winners make defying death look easy.
Put mildly, halfpipe skiing is no joke. It's a dangerous, gravity-defying, and exceedingly difficult activity for supremely fit athletes, where the smallest of mistakes can result in catastrophic injury. Take it from Dumont, who has plummeted from 55 feet in the air and has even competed with one arm still healing - with 11 pins in it and the other hand fractured, too. Perhaps ironically then, the gold winners tend to be those who make their feats look like a walk in the park. "I think style is, you're doing the gnarliest thing ever and make it look like whoever is sitting on the couch can do it, too," Dumont says.
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