Scholastic News

See All Special Reports
Seth Wescott Talks SBX
The gold medalist in the newest Olympic sport breaks it down for Scholastic Kid Reporters.
By Natalie Honodel and Kyle Eichlenberg
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Seth Wescott competes during the final of the snowboard cross competition
Seth Wescott competes during the final of the snowboard cross competition at the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 16, 2006.

Read about snowboarder Hannah Teter.

You'll also find more information on other snowboarders:
  • Shaun White
  • Gretchen Bleiler

  • (Photo: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters)
    Seth Wescott became the first gold medal winner in the new sport of snowboard cross (SBX) on Thursday, February 16, at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

    SBX is a four-man race that resembles motor cross on ice. The gate drops for all four riders at the same time, so the advantage goes to those with quick reaction times. The athletes race across a variety of terrain, including rollers, double jumps, triple jumps, and tabletops. The event begins with 32 athletes. Four at a time, competitors ski the 3,100-foot course. The top two advance to the next heat. The winner of the fourth and final heat takes the gold.

    While Wescott was preparing for his award-winning performance, he took time out to talk to the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

    Q: When did you start snowboarding?
    Seth Wescott: I started snowboarding in 1987, so probably long before either of you were born.

    Q: Who taught you to snowboard? Did you take lessons?
    Seth: I didn't really, but as I got older I started to have coaches. But when I started, snowboarding was pretty new still, so I had to teach myself.

    Q: SBX has been an X Games event for some time now. How are the X Games different from the Olympics?
    Seth: I haven't been to an Olympics yet, so it's hard for me to say exactly, but I know as far as the X Games go, it's kind of only focused on the new sports, the kind of alternative sports. It's neat that snowboarding and the disciplines have been added to the Olympics, because it really kind of gives credibility to what ESPN has created.

    Q: How would you say the X Games and the Olympics are similar?
    Seth: I think both of those events are really focused on the athletes and trying to highlight the highest level of performance of sports in the world, so I think in that way they are both out there with the same goal.

    Q: What do you think it means to be an Olympian?
    Seth: I think it's the ultimate chance to represent your country in athletics, and that's something that I really am looking forward to taking pride in. With our sport we compete in the World Cup all the time, so it is kind of divided into nations a lot, but this is the first time for me where I will truly be out there on the world stage for everyone to see.

    Q: Do you have any interests outside of snowboarding?
    Seth: Yeah, lots of different things. I like photography. I like to write and that's kind of a neat thing with all the traveling we get to do. You get to write and do photographs of all the different places that you go and experience other cultures. I really feel I'm fortunate to have those opportunities.

    Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to be either an Olympian or a snowboarder?
    Seth: I think for anyone who wants to pursue any sports, they need to just believe in themselves. If they really have a dream—do it. There will definitely be times on your journey where it's hard to achieve your goals, but just keep believing in yourself and keep taking any steps you need to move forward.

    Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
    Seth: I guess I'd put it in a couple different ways. Winning the world championship this year was really a dream of mine. I'd always wanted to be the world champion, so that was kind of fulfilling a dream. But I also think my history at the X Games. I'm the only athlete in snowboard cross. I've been in the finals for eight straight years and I'm the only one who's been that consistent. A lot of times in my career my consistency has been something that I've been really proud of.

    Q: Are you friends with your competitors?
    Seth: A lot of them are really good friends, and that's kind of a neat thing. I think the competitive snowboard world is a nice community. There's about 150 of us that are traveling six to eight months out of the year all year-round, so it's nice to be involved and to get to know people from all these other countries. The competitive part is just kind of fun, but we're all friends off the hill. It's nice to get to know people from all these different cultures and to see the world with them.

    Q: Is there anyone who really inspired you growing up?
    Seth: There were a couple of different snowboarders. Craig Kelly, when I was young, was really kind of the best known and best snowboarder in the world. I've always looked up to him. And Terry Hawkinson from Norway was an amazing rider who kind of pushed the evolution of the freestyle side of the sport. He was also really good at doing all the different parts of snowboarding. That was something that I really wanted to be good at, not just one area, but all the different areas.

    Q: Do you have a ritual that you do beforehand?
    Seth: Mostly I just like to listen to music to get excited before I get in the gate. It's usually cold wherever we are, so I'm usually jumping around and stuff to get myself warmed up before it starts.

    Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.