Spencer O’Brien grew up in the mountains, and now she dominates them. The 26-year-old from Courtenay, B.C., arrived in Sochi with an impressive list of accolades: 2013 FIS World Champion (Slopestyle), 2013 U.S. Open Champion and four-time Winter X Games medallist.
‘I’ve always been a competitive person,’ says O’Brien, who started skiing when she was three. ‘When I was 11, my dad gave me the choice: snowboard or ski race. I wanted to snowboard like my sisters, so I abandoned my skis.’ But boarding didn’t come easy. ‘It was the first sport I wasn’t naturally good at’which frustrated me, but it was very humbling. I had to work really hard at it.’
Slopestyle involves skiers or snowboarders heading down the course, executing multiple tricks off jumps and rails. ‘When slope was accepted into the 2014 Olympics, all my childhood dreams came true,’ says O’Brien. The event is scheduled for Feb. 9.
She’s thrilled to represent Canada. ‘Snowboarding is such an individual sport; it’s exciting to be with the other athletes in the village and be part of the team. I’m also excited to be seeing the course for the first time. I’m putting my run together and figuring out ways I can be creative.’
Her parents will be at the bottom of the mountain, cheering her on. ‘Wow, to have them experience it with me’ They are the reason I am where I am today. It would feel wrong if they weren’t here.’