Seven-time X Games gold-medal snowboarder Nate Holland seeks his first piece of Olympic hardware

ccripe@idahostatesman.comFebruary 16, 2014 

MARIO SOBRINO — The Associated Press

Idaho might not have to wait long for its next gold-medal snowboarder.

Nate Holland of Sandpoint has won seven X Games gold medals in snowboard cross, but is 0-for-2 at the Olympics.

His fourth-place finish in 2010 in Vancouver - he crashed going for a pass that might have landed him gold - pushed him to compete another four years.

Holland will compete in his third Olympics on Monday in Russia.

"It was a goal of mine to get back to the Olympics and give myself another shot at getting a medal," he said. "That's been the primary focus."

Holland, 35, was born and raised in Sandpoint. He lives in Truckee, Calif., but spends much of the summer in Sandpoint to run his business, Action Water Sports.

"I've been able to come home more to Sandpoint than I have been in the last few years," he said.

He hopes his next visit will include a celebration.

In Vancouver, Holland reached the four-man final and was nearly a lock to get a medal. But he wanted gold, took a chance and went home empty-handed.

"It hurts, because I was so close to getting a medal, to actually getting a gold medal," he said. "If I wouldn't have fallen in that turn, I'm pretty convinced I would have made that pass and (Seth Wescott) wouldn't have been able to catch me like he did the other guys, so that stings a little bit, but it's racing. I went down because I was trying to win an Olympic gold.

"I could have sat back and cruised into silver, but that's not what I'm there for. I'm there to win."

Holland likes this Olympic course, which he said reminds him of the X Games course in Aspen, Colo. The format has changed to put six riders on the course at once, like the X Games.

"It definitely suits my style of riding," he said. "It's just being able to figure out how to be the fastest man on snow that one day every four years. I'm pretty excited about it. I'm riding where I want to be, to my full potential."

His latest X Games win, last month, was big for Holland's confidence because he broke his collarbone in December. The training crash broke his snowboard and knocked him unconscious.

The injury came on the first training run for the first World Cup race of the season.

"This has definitely been a year of adversity," he said. "It's almost a calming feeling overcoming those challenges."

His next challenge: breaking the Olympics jinx.

Holland finished 14th in Torino in 2006 - another Olympics that ended with a crash.

"I hold an X Games medal in the same weight I do an Olympic medal," he said, "but that Olympic medal is something I don't have. You always want what you don't have. I'll try my hardest over in Russia to ride my heart out. … It will be my third Olympics, and basically I'm playing the odds game right now. One of these times, I've got to hit it. Put me in the starting gate at any race enough times, and I'm going to find the top."

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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