Although it's been a decade since snowboarding was elevated into the echelons of Olympic sports, there are still plenty of misconceptions out there, according to Salt Lake City-based Olympic bronze medalist Alex Deibold. He and snowboarding comrades are still fighting the stereotype that snowboarders don't train very hard compared to skiers. Snowboarding is a high impact, often dangerous, sport and between training and competition, athletes' bodies take a major beating. Just as it is for pro-level skiers, training is a full-time job for snowboarders. Staying in peak shape for performance is a year-round endeavor. To find out about the rigors faced by some of these elite athletes, we chatted with Deibold, who specializes in snowboardcross. He walked us through his typical training regimen and how he stays motivated year round.
What does a typical training week look like for you as a snowboardcross athlete?
Usually I'm in the gym four times a week with the trainer. We do a strength session of 2 to 2.5 hours, then a break for lunch, and afternoon is cardio, outdoors. As the season picks up, training increases with strength blocks, working on speed and power, then endurance with HIIT (high-intensity, interval training) exercises. You need a really well-rounded system for snowboardcross. The routine is always changing up. It's nice because it keeps your workouts fresh and interesting; as soon as you get start getting bored, things change up.
In addition to your regular training, you also do some yoga. How has that helped you?
I've struggled with mobility my whole life and for snowboardcross that's really important. I use yoga to work on my hips and lower back so I can maintain a full range of motion. It's nothing fancy, but I'll typically do a 30- to 45-minute flow at home at least three times a week, usually in the evening after taking the dog out for a walk. It's a good way to unwind and it helps me sleep better.
How important is nutrition to your athletic pursuits? Do you have any favorite training snacks?
I don't actually focus too much on my nutrition, but it's an important component, especially as you get older. While I don't have a specific plan, I do try to eat whole foods as much as possible and we're fortunate to have an awesome nutrition center at the gym. I would say my go-to snack is banana and peanut butter because it's easy no matter where you are.
What activities do you do to stay in shape during the off-season? Any areas in the Salt Lake City/Park City you like to frequent?
We typically get a short period off in the spring after the season wraps, usually late April and May to do our own thing. I do a lot of biking and rock climbing then. It's not targeted training or anything super specific. In the spring, I usually ride down in Salt Lake City where it dries out first, and in the summer, I hit up trails in Deer Valley, Park City, and Kamas. For rock climbing, the best place is up Big Cottonwood Canyon since it's so close to my house. It's a big part of the reason I moved here.
Do you have any advice to help younger athletes stay motivated when things get tough?
Learn to enjoy the process; it's going to be different for everyone. You have to figure out how you work so you can stay motivated. It's taken me years to figure out what I need to pick myself up when I don't want to go to the gym. But if you want to make it, you have to keep working hard even when you don't want to. Be patient, it takes time.
Deibold is currently training hard in hopes of clinching a spot at the 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships to compete in the snowboardcross events at Solitude Resort.