Crazy obstacle courses, air bags and the wild ways Olympic snowboarders train

Posted at 2:51 PM, Feb 14, 2022

Snowboarders are more creative than you might think. Other than strategizing the perfect runs to blend stylish and difficult tricks together, riders need to bring some brain power to keep themselves fit in the offseason. When they can't make it to the mountain, snowboarders must get creative to keep their skills intact.

Find out below how Olympic snowboarders are staying in shape off the slopes.

Obstacle courses

Canadian snowboarder Sebastien Toutant is a master at obstacle courses. During the pandemic, Toutant created mini courses out of water jugs, muscle rollers, skateboards, trampolines, chairs and tables when he couldn’t visit the slopes. Toutant practices his balance, jumps, flips, spins and coordination with his challenges. He created his own #sebtootschallenge, encouraging fans to find fun ways to stay fit at home.

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Backyard parks

2018 slopestyle gold medalist Red Gerard built jib sections in his backyard in Colorado to brush up on his rail features without traveling to a park. His yard, called Red's Backyard, features several straight, kinked and angled rails along with a picnic table to practice on.

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Swedish snowboarder Sven Thorgren purchased Rispellgaarden, his house near Klappen, the snowpark he grew up riding at. Over the past four years, Thorgren has overhauled the property and added jib features, a skateboard halfpipe, trampoline and rope tow to keep his skills sharp. On extra snowy days, Thorgren creates small jumps to practice tricks on. Thorgren even has a sauna to relax his muscles after a long day of training.

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Air bags

Inflatable bags used to cushion athletes from injury help riders practice new tricks, but the use of these bags is controversial. Some athletes like three-time Olympic medalist Mark McMorris and two-time gold medalist Jamie Anderson told the New York Times that they prefer learning tricks organically on snow because they view airbags as a shortcut. Other snowboarders, like 2022 Olympic slopestyle gold medalist Max Parrot, view them as something that allows them to practice harder, heavier-impact tricks without risking injury. The use of air bags may be inevitable, though, as Japanese riders tend to train more on them, leading them to progress more quickly than riders who don’t.

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Several snowboarders keep trampolines at home to practice flips, spins and jumps. Norwegian snowboarder Marcus Kleveland installed a large trampoline outside of his house and can be found bouncing on it during the summer.

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Private halfpipes

Anything’s possible when you’re Shaun White. In 2009, White collaborated with a sponsor to cut a secret 550-foot halfpipe in Silverton, Colorado, to train for the 2010 X Games and Winter Olympics. The area was so secluded that he needed to ride a helicopter to the site. White was working on the double McTwist 1260, a new trick, and didn’t want his competitors to know. He even had a foam pit waiting for him at the end of the pipe so that he could practice the trick without injury. White landed the double McTwist 1260 in competition for the first time at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

While training for the 2014 Winter Olympics, White created another private halfpipe, this time in Perisher, Australia. The foam pit was replaced with an inflatable bag.

These are just a few of the ways riders have been preparing for this year's Winter Olympics. The final competition to showcase what they've been working on will be the big air final. The women kick off their event at 8:30 p.m. ET and the men throw it down afterward at 12 a.m. ET. Watch on, the NBC Sports App and Peacock.