Sean FitzSimons: From Mount Hood to Olympic glory, US snowboarder's triumphant journey
Oregon snowboarder Sean FitzSimons guided Team USA to the doorstep of victory at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, as he led the men's snowboarding team to the final round on Monday, February 7. In the qualifying round, he scored 78.76 points to finish third behind China's Su Yiming and Canada's two-time bronze medalist Mark McMorris. Barely three weeks ago, Sean had stunned all by recording his first-ever world cup victory.
Reflecting on his impressive performance, Sean said, "The right things are coming together at the right time, especially this being an Olympic year when things are starting to go my way. Nothing’s really changed, though. I’ve kept snowboarding and kept working hard at it.”
He also shared, “I just tried to get up there, land a run and see where it would get me and try not to think about the pressure of the Olympics," adding, "I was having a hard time eating this morning — you know, nerves, butterflies. I put those aside and wasn’t nervous dropping in today. I was like, I’m just going to board. And that’s what I did.”
Sean's journey to success is an impressive story, and starts from a pacifier! When he was a toddler of barely 18 months, his parents Jen and Mike went on an adventure trip to Mount Hood. They strapped skis on his little feet so he could join the family in skiing across the slopes. Tiny Sean would scoot around the slopes with a harness and a pacifier in his mouth.
“He would ski up to mom and nurse and then ski off," his brother Mike recalled. His mom Jen, added, "There was something about the motion of skiing that would put them to sleep. We’d be skiing down the hill, with them on the harness, and before long I’d go, ‘Huh. They’re kind of floppy.’ I’d catch back up to them and realize, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re in and out of sleeping.’ So we’d throw them on our shoulders and take them home.”
Sean is 21 years old at present and is already being considered one of the best snowboarders in the world at the moment. Born on September 21, 2000, Sean is also an avid skateboarder and kiteboarder, specializing in halfpipe and big air as well. He started his professional snowboarding career in 2017 by entering the US Rev Tour and making his way to the Olympic Snowboarding Team and Snowboard Pro Slopestyle.
Alongside Sean, the US Olympic Snowboarding team comprises defending gold medalist Redmond Gerard and Chris Corning. While Gerard earned fifth place in the qualifying round, Corning ended up in 11th place.