Based in Colorado and Utah, Justin Reiter is an Olympic Snowboarder and adventurer. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
So, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How old were you when you decided that you wanted to be in the Olympics? When did you first get on a snowboard?
I was born in Lake Tahoe California and lived there until I was 6. Then, when I was six my Mother and I moved to Colorado. I lived most of my life in Dillon and Steamboat Springs Colorado. I saw snowboarding for the first time when I was 9 years old. I was mesmerized. It was love at first sight. I begged my Mom for a board and come Christmas there was a Burton Performer Elite under the tree. I slept with it that night and still have it today.
I also got to watch snowboarding's first venture into the Olympics take place in 1998. I snuck into a bar and watched from the kitchen as history was made. I knew at that moment I wanted to go to the Olympics.
What is it really like training for the Olympics? How old were you when you started training?
I started snowboarding for fun when I was nine, but soon found out there was a local series of snowboard competitions. I was drawn to the competition not because of the desire to be the best but because all of my friends were there and there was an undeniable spirit of friendship. Slowly I became more competitive and driven. Back then we competed in all of the disciplines. Racing and freestyle, the goal was to be the best overall rider. Eventually, when I turned 17 I had to choose my focus if I was going to turn pro. My heart was torn between half pipe and racing. My love for speed won and I focused on racing. From 18 on, snowboarding became my life and my life became snowboarding.
What does your "average" day look like at the moment?
I have four types of days: Competition Day Training Day, Travel Day, Day Off.
Training days are the bulk of the season. It consists of waking up, scarfing some breakfast and heading to the hill. At the mountain my coaches will set a course while I do some technical free riding to warm up. Once that is set I will start chasing gates, one run after another. Always focused on improving. I will take between 6-12 runs. After on "snow training" its lunch time and then gym time. The day ends with dinner and a good nights sleep.
Comp days are intense but there is a calm in the storm. They are similar to one another as the schedule remains the same. I find some peace in the routine and knowing what's coming. The opposite of the calm is nerves and anticipation.
Travel Days happen almost as often as training days. They consist of planes, trains and automobiles. It is an effort to try and enjoy them. Its always fun to look ahead and plan to make stops at cool spots along the way.
Days off are the best because you are normally in a cool place and can finally get out of the routine to explore.
Whats your dream location or line to snowboard?
Honestly, I love riding with my best friends and good snow. It could be anywhere, it really doesn't matter.
How do you balance out all of the training with just having fun?
Its a difficult line. Sometimes when the results aren't there the tendency is to grind super hard. You forget about fun and just work. This can be counterproductive. You have to remember to enjoy the journey. For this I turn to photography. I love trying to capture the experience and this reminds me to savor it.
Whats peoples biggest misconception about the Olympics?
I believe in the Olympic spirit. Fortunately, that is embodied in every athlete who represents their country in the games. Unfortunately the Olympics, due to the IOC (International Olympic Committee), have become way too commercialized and they no longer put the athletes first. Money takes priority and the athletes are forced to deal with sub par conditions and locations.
Alright, last question. Whats your biggest advice for anyone wishing to be an Olympic Athlete or a Sponsored/ Pro Athlete?
Find what you love and do it no matter the cost. You may NOT be the best today, but that doesn't mean you cannot BECOME the best tomorrow.