Aussie boarder cross dual Olympian Cam Bolton and his team mates Chumpy, Adam Lambert and Jarryd Hughes will hit the snowboard cross track at the Bokwang Pheonix Park tomorrow. 

The forecast for the event is hopeful with gusty conditions that have reaked havoc on athletes at the beginning of this week expected to ease but no doubt the guys will be toying with strategies to make the most of the course.

Pete caught up with Cam for a pre-Games chat (and surf) to find out more about what makes him tick - what it was like deciding to ride after just breaking his wrist at his last games, whether breaking his back ever made him rethink his life choices, oh yeah, and budgy smugglers...

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Cam started on snow at 10 - cross country skiing, skiing and snowboarding , Cam says he was mad for all of it so long as it was a competition. And now he is at biggest Competition that there is for the second time.  

Unlike a lot of his rivals and teammates, Cam didn’t follow the winter overseas when he was coming through the ranks. Instead he was down at the beach down on the Mornington Peninsula.

“I might have had a little stint in budgy smugglers but I think I'm going to put it down to my love for the ocean; we’ll blame it on the ocean.”

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go overseas, but for Cam 40 degree days and it was 6 foot swell didn’t leave him thinking ‘I wish I was in the cold’. In fact, he even says that it was something he was able to use to his advantage.

“I remember that they would come back and at the start of each season at Mt Buller and in race club at the start of the season [my teammates that had been overseas] would be smoking me in races.

They would be riding better and I would be like I gotta catch these guys… I gotta catch them!

Looking back, it made me make the most of my time on snow, and I would work my way up …  I became really efficient at trying to improve as fast as I could and its what carried me through.”

Like many of the athletes that Pete sat down with at XTM house, watching the Winter Olympics was what gave Cam the fire in the belly to be among the best in his sport.

“I had raced Chumpy  and Damon at Hotham and I remember seeing them on TV and …  I was mind blown because I didn’t have any idea what it would look like on an Olympic course, or knowledge about what it might be like at a top level.

I watched these guys compete come down the course and I thought it was the most amazing show. They were doing really well and the course was huge. There were a few crashes and I remember thinking that is what I want to do and from there I haven’t looked back.”

There has been talk of the agony and the ecstasy of Winter sports a lot during these Games and it is a story that Cam knows well.

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The results I am most fond of are tricky in that they are sort of Catch 22 in a way. My best results have often been a missed opportunity to a degree but they have still been my best results.”

At the World champs in Sierra Nevada in 2013, Cam was 2 years out from his rookie World Cup and he scored his first top 10. A year later, at 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi he came 11th after breaking his wrist in the semi and then coming back to race again and do the consolation final, crashing on it again.

“That was certainly an emotional rollercoaster … when I think of breaking my wrist and going up and competing again I suppose in my mind it was a straightforward decision.  

I knew I didn't have to use my wrist once I got out of the gate. I knew all my friends and family were watching so it wasn't a decision for me like ‘can I get up it?’.

I was like, ‘I'm at the Olympics… it wasn't that bad… I'm full of adrenaline… I am going to go race!"

And then in 2015 at Montafon World Cup. the opening world cup of the season, Cam had a great day on the course and made it to the final.

“My first big final and it was a four man heat so it was a guaranteed top four. I had a great start. I lead top to bottom and I got to the last jump and crashed and had all three riders pass me in the last 20 m of the course.  So while it was a great day racing and something I look back on and cherish … I definitely don't want to crash out in front ever again so it's good motivation to learn from my mistake.  

Cam is also no stranger to injury. Despite being all but injury free up to the Olympics in 2014, he broke his wrist the next 3 years in a row and ended up needing surgery.

After that it was his shoulder and then after Montefon he finished 4th and the very next World Cup in training, he broke his back putting an end to his season.

But coming back from that, Cam says he has learned a lot about his body and his commitment to his sport.

“I remember thinking in hospital like, maybe this is one of those things where people have this big injury and they think like, “Should I be doing this? …do I want to keep risking my body?”

I think it only took me about 1 or 2 seconds but I realized that, “Absolutely! This is what I want to be doing.

I feel like I've got unfinished business and I think that it's a small price to pay for all the fun and excitement and adrenaline we get to experience.”

FOR MORE NEWS FROM THE WINTER OLYMPICS
XTM’s own Al Dower will be on the ground in Pyeongchang for the Games, cheering on  the team and sending back all the news as it happens.

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