Evan Strong competes at the 2023 FIS Para Snowboard World Championships. (Photo: Luc Percival)
There is no down time for Evan Strong.
The two-time Paralympic medalist from Haiku, Hawaii, recently completed a three-month European tour of competing in several world cup snowboarding events.
Joining him for much of the trip was his wife, Mariah, and their two daughters.
“My girls are home-schooled, with my wife and I co-teaching them, so we got to keep them on the curriculum,” Strong said. “This year, we got creative on how to run my race season, otherwise I would have had to make probably six round trips to the United States and back.”
For Strong, 36, who was home-schooled himself through high school, the world has become his home. Both he and his wife hail originally from Maui, and her family still lives there.
The Strong’s now live in northern California, and his competitive life keeps him traveling the world for much of the year. Some may call it a nomadic life, but it’s one that breeds opportunity for a wealth of experiences.
“From competing and making appearances in both snowboarding and skateboarding, as well as working with USA Skateboarding, I’m on the road throughout the year and have been traveling pretty much non-stop for 12 years,” he said. “We’re all on the road so much that we don’t hold down a full-time place.”
The world is literally Strong’s office, and he has put together a tremendous resume while working across it. In the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, where snowboarding made its Paralympic debut, he won the gold medal in snowboardcross and followed that up with a silver medal in banked slalom in 2018 in PyeongChang. He also recorded a fourth-place finish in snowboardcross in PyeongChang and a fifth-place finish in the banked slalom last year in Beijing.
While competing in a pair of Paralympics in Asia was a lot of fun, Strong said, he’s looking forward to the 2026 Games in Cortina and Milano, Italy.
“I’m very excited to be competing in a European Paralympic Games. It will be very special to compete in Italy,” he said. “It’s just a great place for snowboarding, and I’m planning on spending a lot of time there preparing for 2026. I just want to get a good feel for the place so I can build up my confidence heading into the games.”
With the three years he has to prepare, Strong is spending his time competing while also taking part in strength and conditioning drills. He is planning to travel to the Southern Hemisphere this summer to take part in snowboarding camps.
While he’s been at it for more than 30 years, Strong says that snowboarding and skateboarding bring him just as much delight as they did when he was a child. Rather than becoming a chore to practice and compete, the sports hold even more allure for him now than in his younger day.
“The sensation is the same, but in a lot of ways it is more fun than ever because of the progression,” Strong said. “The level at which I’m able to experience this and compete has never been higher, so it’s all that much more exhilarating.”
Strong, who also is an avid surfer and mountain biker, said that all his favorite activities work in tandem with one another as far as preparing his body for competition. He added that the work he puts in never feels like work, which makes him even tougher to compete against.
“I go out of my way to make it fun, because you can’t outperform someone having fun,” he said. “Getting up early, putting in the work, staying late, putting in all the extra effort. I thoroughly enjoy all of that, and how can someone outwork me if it doesn’t feel like work? Why did I start snowboarding in the first place? Because it’s fun.”
While Strong is preparing for the 2026 Paralympics, he is also keeping one eye on the Summer Paralympics, where there have been rumblings that skateboarding could eventually join the program.
“I don’t plan on stopping skateboarding any time soon,” he said. “I’d feel like a loser if I didn’t try to go. I’ve been in love with skateboarding since I was 4 or 5, so this almost feels like destiny to me.”