In pursuit of a dream

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. - For Alex Deibold, 27, of Manchester Center, Vt. competing in the Winter Olympics has been a dream ever since he was a child.

Last Saturday, Deibold - a member of the U.S. National Snowboard Cross team - took one step closer to making that dream a reality when he claimed the bronze medal in the men's World Cup snowboard cross event at Lake Louise.

"Qualifying for the Olympics, it has been a life long goal of mine," said Deibold. "I think that I told my parents that I wanted to go to the Olympics when I was nine, maybe 10-years-old and the fact that that is looking like a realistic possibility now I almost don't even know how to describe it."

Last Saturday's event - which marked only the second time Deibold has reached the podium in his career and the first time this season a U.S. male rider has reached the podium in a World Cup event - was the second of five qualifiers to earn a spot on the U.S. Snowboard Cross team that will go to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

There are only four spots on the team and in an interview on Monday Deibold said there is one thing over the next three qualifiers that would definitely punch his ticket to the Olympic Games.

"A win would guarantee me a spot," he said. "Qualification criteria and process, when you break it down, is pretty complicated, but really all I worry about is just [winning.] If I just worry about doing the best that I can do at every event that's all I can worry about."

Even if Deibold does not win one of the next three qualifying events, it is still possible that he will make the Olympic Team.

In the most recent World Cup event at Lake Louise, Deibold said he went in with a different mindset - focusing on executing the little things. At the first World Cup event earlier this month in Austria, Deibold said he performed poorly perhaps in part because he was thinking about "the big picture" and making the Olympic Team.

Last Saturday, he said he believed the change in mindset proved to be beneficial.

"I didn't have to ride beyond my limits. I didn't have to do anything beyond my ability and I made the podium and it seemed like what should have happened," said Deibold. "I was happy and I was excited, but it wasn't one of those like life changing sort of things. It was like 'Ok. If you stick to the game plan you can do this.'"

Now that he has podiumed in a World Cup event this year, Deibold said a possible challenge going forward is that more people may begin paying more attention to how he performs. While that's something he said could be perceived either positively or negatively, he said going into the remaining qualifiers he will have to focus on executing the small things and not worry about what his competitiors and teammates are doing.

Deibold - who had lived in Manchester for several years - attended Stratton Mountain School from 2001- 2004 after spending his freshman year at Notre Dame High School in West Haven, Conn. It was his years at SMS that Deibold said transformed him from a recreational snowboarder to an elite level competitor.

"When I went to SMS that's when things really changed from something that I liked to do on the weekends to thinking about it as a career and thinking about it as a profession," Deibold said. "I was there [at] 14- or 15-years-old and I started doing some professional events and [I was] getting to travel the world a little bit then obviously when I graduated I got named to the National Team [and] that was like a really, really big step forward and [it increased] my desire to make it a career."

Originally, Deibold said he used to compete more in halfpipe, but his coaches at SMS made him compete in the other four disciplines - slopestyle, boarder cross, giant slalom and slalom - to ensure that he would be a well balanced rider.

What the future holds for Deibold remains to be seen as the team that will go to the Winter Olympics will not be chosen until next month. However, if Deibold were to be selected as a member of the team he indicated he would feel incredibly fortunate.

"Making the Olympic Team and getting to go represent my country would be a life long goal accomplished," he said.


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