U.S. Team Snowboard Star Graham Watanabe in Afghanistan

Posted By: The Ski Channel on June 19, 2009 8:38 am

Usually the dude is all smiles and quick with a joke, but this weekend, U.S. Team snowboarder Graham Watanabe (Sun Valley, ID) is about to get serious. Watanabe is leaving for a week in Afghanistan, where he will visit American soldiers as part of a goodwill tour.

The 2009 U.S. Snowboardcross Champion and World Cup winner is no stranger to the spotlight, yet he feels humbled by his pending journey. “I feel like I’m getting more out of this visit than they are because they are making a bigger sacrifice than I,” Watanabe says. “But I also hope it’s something where I’m giving back rather than just gaining from it. Ultimately I hope I provide some kind of connection for them to home or any kind of uplift that they need.”

Watanabe is one of the friendliest guys on the World Cup snowboarding circuit, not to mention one of the funniest. Chances are he’ll get his wish, and the troops will enjoy his company.

Is he nervous about entering dangerous territory? Not really. “I honestly don’t know if there is anything I should be concerned about, so I’m not concerned,” Watanabe says. “If there is, though, I’m in the best possible company I can be in.”

Visit grahamwatanabe.com for Watanabe’s musings and details about his trip.



photos: Graham Watanabe