Kyle Wise’s top 5 best and worst things about boardercross
Kyle Wise is a British snowboarder from Norfolk who competes in the Winter Olympic discipline of snowboard cross, or boardercross as many call it. Kyle represented Great Britain at the 2013 World University Games and in this exclusive blog for Ski Club of Great Britain, Kyle reveals all about the good and the bad of life as a boardercross rider.
Following a tricky start to the season, where the weather continually wreaked havoc on the competition schedule, I feel I should give you guys an insight into the good and the bad of boardercross. Obviously I love the sport but it can be tough at times! So here are my top 5 best and worst things about boardercross:
5 best things
- The adrenaline – This is the big reason that differentiates it from other sports! Everyone who’s ever skied or snowboarded loves racing downhill, so imagine doing this super close to others, down a crazy yet fun track while trying to overtake each other. It’s why we all do it!
- Travelling – I’ve been to some amazing places thanks to boardercross, such as all over Europe and even a bit of North America. A lot of them have been unknown resorts too, which most people would never venture to. (Big thanks to my Travel Cash for helping me with currency whilst I’ve been abroad!)
- Being in the mountains – Playing in the snow all the time is amazing. And the experience of having fresh air and a beautiful environment while doing something you love is incomparable! Every time I bike to work in the city, inhaling bus fumes, I wish I was back out there.
- The progression – To be good at boardercross you have to be an all-round good rider, you have to be able to ride anything and everything! As a result every element of your snowboarding improves. You take huge leaps and bounds at the start, but even now, every little improvement makes a big difference.
- The people – I’ve met some interesting people from boardercross, possibly the strangest but also some incredibly determined characters. There is no ‘average’ or ‘normal’ boardercross person, they’ve all come from different backgrounds and it can be hard to relate to others at times, so thank god we have boardercross in common!
5 worst things
- Costs – The price of doing boardercross is huge, it is the norm to spend at least £15k each winter doing it full-time. The accommodation, lift passes, travel, coaching, competition entries, insurance, equipment and waxes all add up. Last year, I was juggling four part-time jobs, flying back and forth to UK from competitions in Europe in order to manage it all – it was tough. Getting to the track is half the battle. (Thanks to all my sponsors who’ve helped make it more manageable!)
- Gym – You need to have a lot of explosive power to match the fast leg movement required for the boardercross tracks, which means you need to gym a lot. Being an outdoorsy person, the gym bores me, I’d much rather go climbing, biking or play some sport. So I find it more of a necessity than anything. However, it also helps prevent injuries, which is key and having a good place to train makes it easier – thanks to Jim at Edinburgh University Centre for Sports and Exercise who’s helping me to train in their great facilities!
- Media exposure – For a number of reasons the snowboard community has largely rejected boardercross.There is a good movie called SBX The Movie, which covers some of this, and the history behind boardercross. Long story short, although everyone loves to race and watch it, it is ‘not cool’ and deemed largely unworthy of media coverage in snowboard magazines and media outlets. To get coverage as an athlete you have to reach out further, so thanks to the Ski Club of GB for giving me an outlet closer to home.
- Hanging around – As I said earlier in the blog, the amount of time I spend waiting to get on the boardercross track is huge. You’ll spend an entire day on the hill in blizzardy and freezing conditions, and sometimes only get three or four runs. Or even worse when it’s great weather and you could be riding powder!
- The mental challenge – boardercross can be a real love/hate thing at times. You’ll be doing great in training, riding amongst the best of them and then you’ll make a silly mistake and wreck your chances of getting through to heats. Last year I did this a number of times, I beat myself up and questioned why I spend so much time and money on it. However this only lasts so long as you remember why you do it in the first place, it’s amazing and it takes time to get to the top! A lot of experience and luck is needed. Boardercross makes you a much stronger person mentally. You overcome a lot of fears and self-doubt. As my friend Myles told me after the FIS World Championships in Quebec a few years ago, no one will ever feel the fear he did riding that massive course – but overcoming it has made him fearless and he can take anything on.
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