Luge and snowboarding, skiing and skating — get ready for cold-weather speed and skill at the 2018 Winter Olympics, this February 9 – 25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
As Team USA gears up for its first races down snowy mountains and across icy rinks, we spoke with five young Olympic hopefuls from Central PA and asked them about their gold-medal dreams.
Today’s Q&A features William Massie, a 16-year-old alpine snowboard racer from Camp Hill.
School: Camp Hill High School, 11th grade.
Member of Ski Roundtop Racing Club; competes regionally and nationally at the USASA age group level; competes internationally at the NorAm level, against racers from Canada, Japan, Korea and other nations
Coaches: Neil Sunday, Jeff Carr, Wes Trout and Dave Buckwalter (all in Central PA). Also trained at a camp run by Bud Keene, former U.S. Olympic half-pipe coach and former coach of Shaun White.
Tell us about alpine snowboard racing and how often you practice.
There are two racing disciplines: Slalom (SL), where the flags are placed closer together; and Giant Slalom (GS), where the flags are placed further apart. When I’m not competing, I practice four times a week: Saturdays and Sundays and Monday and Wednesday evenings.
How did you get started in your sport? What do you like most about snowboard racing?
I took my first snowboarding lesson when I was 8 and joined SRRC later that year. I love the self-responsibility of alpine snowboarding. I’m racing through the gates, I’m in control of my board, I’m trying to beat the clock. And I love the competition.
What kind of equipment do you use to practice and compete?
Other than really warm outer clothing, I also wear a helmet (racing certified) and goggles. Alpine snowboarders use specialized snowboards that are longer and narrower than freestyle snowboards. And the boots I wear resemble ski boots.
What is a skill/move that you enjoy doing?
Getting a heel side turn perfect: dropping your hips to the snow, rolling your feet and your boots, bending your knees, and following through. It all connects you and your board in a perfect smooth arc.
What is a new skill you are working on?
Adapting to all my new equipment. [It] is more exact than anything I’ve ridden before… [and] should give me better control over my riding and help me become faster. But first I’ve got to get used to it.
Tell us about one of your favorite competitions.
My favorite competition is always going to Nationals in Colorado. My favorite competition ever was Nationals 2017 when I placed third in the nation in my very competitive age group division.
Who is someone you admire in your sport?
I really admire my coaches, especially Neil Sunday and Jeff Carr. [Competitor] Robbie Burns. He’s very nice, friendly, and relaxed…. I also looked up to Ezio Argento [who] was an accomplished rider on the SRRC team when I joined it. And last but not least, I really admire AJ Muss, a 2018 Olympic contender, who has made some of the finest alpine snowboard equipment available to me at a reasonable price.
What are your long-term goals in snowboarding?
Qualifying for the Jr. World Cup and eventually racing at the World Cup level. My long-term goals include attending an outstanding university and earning a business degree.