By Matt Wenzel
Gaylord Herald Times
2:08 AM PDT, October 3, 2011
BOYNE FALLS — Two-time Olympic gold medal winner Seth Wescott stayed long after his presentation to the Skitober Fest crowd was complete on Saturday at Boyne Mountain.
Planted in a chair, Wescott signed snowboards and hats and posters until every child, and most of the adults, had a souvenir from the day.
On each item Wescott would write a personal greeting and follow it up with, “follow your dreams.”
Wescott is fully qualified to give advice on the topic.
As an ambassador and arguably one of the originators of the sport of snowboard cross, Wescott has not only won two Olympic golds, but the first two gold medals in the sport.
He also has made countless podium appearances in World Championship races, X-Games and other competitions across the globe.
On skis and snowboards since the ability to walk, it was a marathon runner who helped turn Wescott’s dreams towards Olympic gold.
His first babysitter was a young college runner named Joan Benoit who earned gold in the first Olympic women’s marathon, introduced in 1984 at the Los Angeles Games.
“It was really special to sit and watch this race,” Wescott said. “I can remember being in the play room as a kid and I remember watching her win. I saw what it meant for my parents, of how powerful sports can be as a thing in society and how much joy it brought to them to see someone win on that type of a stage and be doing something to represent them.”
With that encouragement and emotion, Wescott grew up in his home in central Maine, eventually deciding to give full-time snowboard cross a shot.
Through multiple injuries in a physically demanding sport, Wescott earned gold in both the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy, and the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
The 35-year-old said he does not have any plans of retirement.
“For me being on the older end of the sport it becomes a challenge from within myself to see how much further I want to go,” he said. “How much more mental energy do I have to keep doing the re-motivation process every year and go at it again. Physically my skills are right there. I keep making progress every year and I think probably if I stop making progress that will be the deciding factor. But for right now that I am still progressing physically with the skill set every year it’s fun to see how far I will be able to push that.”
Snowboarding and other extreme skiing events have seen a steady increase in popularity the last 10 years.
“It has been great to kind of get to be like an elder statesman of that change and help work with resorts and try to be constructive in our continuing to move forward,” Wescott said.
Wescott is currently in his off-season training regimen, which has consisted of creating movies with the likes of Warren Miller, extreme winter sports’ most popular creator.
Completing his first trip to Northern Michigan, Wescott claims it will not be his last.
“It is absolutely beautiful,” he said. “I have been stunned. The mountain is smaller for sure, but the surroundings are just gorgeous. It’s really nice and the people have been super friendly. I am probably going to spend a little bit of time here every year to play a little golf and we are hoping to do a winter event here this year.”