The U.S. Snowboard Cross Team had a different approach with their New Zealand and Fiji camps this summer. Riders participating in the ‘Rad Camp 2′ (the first ‘Rad Camp’ took place the summer after the 2006 Torino Winter Olympic Games) included double Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott and five time X Games champion Nate Holland.
“In order to win in snowboard cross, these athletes must take huge risks and manage big fears,” said Head Coach Peter Foley. “We need to expose them to additional scenarios in a safe way that is outside of their familiarity and comfort zone to increase their comfort and performance level with the end result being that they come out feeling triumphant.”
As soon as the athletes stepped out off the plane in Queenstown, the camp had officially begun. First stop was site-seeing and a 43-meter bungee jump from a bridge.
“I mean I am not a big fan of heights, I was probably the most scared of the group,” admitted Holland. “But it definitely got us out of our comfort zone and was exhilarating. It was a blast I’d totally do it again, but I was glad to be standing on solid ground after all of that was said and done.”
After plunging from the sky, the crew strapped into their boards and started putting on the miles, working on the basics after a long off-snow break. Keeping it fresh, they rode in various terrain, from halfpipe to heli-boarding.
“I definitely was out of my element, just to be that close to the edge,” said Olympian Nick Baumgartner. “It’s a lot like when were snowboarding when you’re that close to the edge bad things can happen, but if you push it great things can happen.”
Switching gears from athlete to coach, the snowboard cross crew took on the 2010 Snowboard Junior World Championships, helping the future stars of the sport. The group inspected the course with the U.S. juniors, as well as gave them pump up talks and tips on how to ride the course.
“It was a really great experience to help with the Junior Worlds Team,” said Holland. “I have a really good working relationship with my coaches. We basically speak our own language. Bringing those kids up to speed and in alignment to what we have done, how we have been successful and our language and stuff were always working on was a good time. We got three of the six snowboardcross medals, which was a blast.”
Breaking up the long flight home, Wescott, Holland and gang made a pit stop in Fiji for a week of sun and fun. The riders changed surfaces making splashes in the ocean while cutting waves.
“The waves in Fiji break right on a reef, so that was definitely something way out of my comfort zone,” said Holland. “To be able to drop into on a double overhead wave onto a reef is something that relates directly to snowboarding balance skills. Out of the whole trip, in reference to getting out of my comfort zone, I had the best time and got the most out of the surfing.”
“Fiji was pretty amazing to be able to exercise and surf in that kind of element was unbelievable,” said Baumgartner.
Next stop for the Snowboard Cross Team is a two and half month stay in Park City, home of U.S. Snowboarding and the Center of Excellence.
For photos, video and updates on the snowboard cross crew, check out and “like” the U.S. Snowboarding Facebook Fan Page.