Snowboard Cross rider Cam Bolton, who has one Olympics under his belt - finishing 11th in Sochi in 2014, is one such athlete who is motivated to return for a second Olympics in PyeongChang fitter and healthier.
Making it back to full strength after a broken back, shoulder and wrist between Sochi and now spells out the extreme risk many winter athletes face and take in their stride.
“I’m happy to have a year of injury free training in the lead up to the Olympics,” Bolton said at the conclusion of the World Championships in March.
The off-season at home for Bolton since the world titles has required intense strength and conditioning in Melbourne or near his home base on the Mornington Peninsula, which also afforded his love of surfing, which he happily calls ‘cross training’.
“This is the first time since the 2014/15 season that I’ve been healthy and I’m really motivated,” Bolton said.
Despite not competing at the PyeongChang test event in March 2016, he has checked out the venue.
“PyeongChang looks like a great course. It’s going to flow and be fast,” is Bolton’s assessment.
“I expect it to be windy. There’s wind turbines near the course for good reason and it can be incredibly gusty from any direction.”
Snowboard Cross might look like four guys lining up against each other at the start gate before racing to the finish line in the quest to place in the top two to advance to the ultimate final and medal round, but there’s more to this sport than meets the casual eye.
The Uiyaji Wind Village is located on the highlands of PyeongChang, attracting tourists for cheese and ice cream making and to view the ‘sight of wind-mills standing high above the frozen plain’.
“The wind can change every twenty seconds, which makes it hard to plan for everyone. There will be an element of luck and qualifying could be all over the place.”
“There is an incredible difference between a headwind, or a possible tailwind and that can play with your mind,” Bolton said.
“Hitting big is about aerodynamics. If you go high, you lose speed. Staying low - weight helps if you have a headwind and the ability to generate speed through transitions.”
An exciting Snowboard Cross event next February is on the cards. In the meantime, it’s training on the Aussie snowfields at Mt Hotham for our Olympic SBX team until the first World Cup in Argentina gets underway in early September.
And spare a thought for winter athletes like Bolton who lug close to 100 kilos of baggage with up to eight snowboards.
“It’s a small price to pay for doing what we love.”