|Simon Dumont warms up for the qualification heats of the men's
FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup at the on Jan. 9, 2013 in Copper
When Simon Dumont talks about his career, it sounds almost as if he’s ready to start collecting Social Security.
One of the world’s best freeskiers the past decade, Dumont said his clock is ticking.
He might only be 26 — an age when most people are just launching careers — but in the world of freeskiing, Dumont knows he’s close to the down slope.
In a sport where athletes defy gravity and risk injury on every run and teenagers such as Americans Torin Yater-Wallace (17) and Aaron Blunck (16) and France’s Thomas Krief (19) are at or near the top of the world rankings, 30-somethings stick out like flip phones in an iPhone world. Which is why Dumont is so focused on making the U.S. team for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in February when halfpipe skiing makes its Olympic debut.
“Yeah, I’m getting close to not really competing a lot more, so I don’t think I’ll get another Olympics,” Dumont said.
“I’ve been around in freeskiing since the beginning, so I’d like to go,” he added. “I just want to be in the best physical and mental state I can be so I can perform at the highest level and have no regrets.”
Dumont has been performing at a high level since he, too, was a teenager.
He’s a nine-time Winter X Games medalist, has been ranked No. 1 in the world in halfpipe, was a bronze medalist in halfpipe at the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in 2011 and has won numerous titles on the Dew Tour. He’s been an innovator — on tricks such as double superman front flips, double corks and double front flips — and a skywalker. In 2008 he set a height record by flying 35½ feet out of a 38-foot quarterpipe.
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This year, Dumont earned a bronze in the Winter X Games superpipe at Aspen, and also finished fifth at European X Games in Tignes, France.
The fact he made it to the podium in Colorado exceeded expectations considering what he’s been through the past year and a half.
Early in 2012, Dumont suffered a knee injury that kept him from competing for most of the season. Then, when he returned, he broke both wrists in a fall during a training day for the Dew Tour in December.
“I shattered one really bad,” he said. “Needed a plate and like 10 screws. The other one I fractured pretty badly, but didn’t need surgery on that one.”
Dumont knew he had made a mistake and was going to pay for it.
I tried to save my face, because damn, this thing looks good,” he said, laughing, “but I put my hands down and yeah, ended up breaking my wrists.”
He said the December injuries occurred just as he was feeling like he was ready to roll, having recovered from the knee injury and dedicated himself to make a big push to make the U.S. team for Sochi.
“I’d pretty much gotten into the best shape of my life,” he said. “I’ve just been working on every aspect, from diet to working out in the gym to working out on the road. I’ve just put everything on hold, too. I’m not partying, I’m not doing anything. I’m completely focused and I feel pretty good.”
After his wrists healed, he got back on his skis after about six weeks. It was a mental challenge he believes he’s overcome.
“I’ve skied most of the year without a pole because I just couldn’t hold them,” he said. “It’s not the biggest thing. I’ve overcome pain before, but just the mental aspect, getting a little bit older, coming off an injury and being in a really good place and then having another injury come about, it is tough.”
Now, though, he said he’s feeling good.
“All in all, I’m really where I need to be,” he said. “Just maybe learn a couple tricks. … I think I can hang in there and do pretty well in Sochi.”
|Simon Dumont soars above the fans en route to a third place
finish in the men's superpipe final at Buttermilk Mountain
on Jan. 25, 2013 in Aspen, Colo.
The United States potentially could start four halfpipe skiers (men and women) to Sochi, with the final makeup of the team to be determined early in 2014. The team is expected to be announced following the Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix, which will be held in January in Park City, Utah.
For Dumont, being part of the Olympic debut of his sport — which will feature halfpipe and slopstyle — is important. He says waiting for adoption into the Games was “exhausting,” because he and so many others lobbied so hard for it.
“We just pushed for so long and it was such an easy thing to see, from my perspective anyway,” he said. “Snowboarding’s already in. It’s the same venue and they’re looking for younger viewers. I mean, with X Games and how many viewers they get and the younger demographic that they have, it was a no-brainer. … To see it finally get in was amazing, to see it finally come to fruition.”
Although he no longer has youth on his side, he has experience. He says he knows what he needs to do. He’s certain he needs to add some tricks to his repertoire, so that will be a priority.
But just having competed for so long might be the biggest plus he has.
“I can usually put down a run when I need to put one down,” he said. “I’m not going to over reach. I mean, the thing is, you still have to qualify, you’ve still got to qualify at the Olympics to make it into the finals and then you can let everything hang out.”
Although the Olympic Winter Games would be different than anything he’s experienced — more attention, more people, more on the line — he’s eager for it.
“I’m going to go out there with the same mentality I go into every contest,” he said. “And that’s to ski well and put on the best performance I can and make sure people remember my name when I leave.”