Matt Carter misses the snow.
The 21-year-old Maryhill native has a good reason though: he’s a competitive alpine snowboarder.
Earning a World Cup berth after finishing first in the North America Cup series this past winter, Carter is well on his way of accomplishing his ultimate goal: making it to the Olympics.
“I started skiing when I was two and by the time I was seven I got bored with the sport and convinced my parents to let me try snowboarding,” said Carter. “As a birthday present they agreed to get me a lesson, rent me a board for the day – I never put on another pair of skis again.”
Carter started snowboarding in 1998 which was the first time snowboarding made an appearance at the Olympics.
“That year Canadian Ross Rebagliati won those games and I was just starting out and when I saw that I had this realization ‘that’s what I want to do.’”
After a few years of lessons Carter entered the Association of Ontario Snowboarders series at age 11 and began a life dedicated to the sport.
He started entering boarder cross, half pipe and alpine events but decided to focus his attention primarily to the alpine.
“I was never very good at the half pipe and in my first boarder cross I was up against a group of 14 year olds, who seemed like giants at the time, and they looked down at me and told me to just hang back and you won’t get hurt,” said Carter. “They all ended up piling up in a corner and taking each other out and I just scooted by but I ended up crashing at the very end of the race and chipping my tooth and that was my last boarder cross race.”
At age 15 Carter entered his first Federation Internationale de Ski and has been competing ever since.
The season begins in August and sees Carter crisscrossing the globe. Starting in New Zealand for six weeks, Carter will travel back to Canada, the U.S. and Europe until he finally comes home at the end of April.
“The sport has given me a chance to see a lot of different place in the world, but I do live out of a suitcase for the better part of a year. I try not to think about it. It comes with the territory. You either accept it or you let it stress you out.”
Carter said he stays grounded with the help of his parents, who are his biggest supporters.
“It would be impossible to do what I do without their support; they were always 100 per cent behind me and have always supported my progression,” he said.
The success of a snowboarder is based entirely on individual feats and living with teammates who are also your competition can be a bit tricky at times, he maintains.
“It’s not cutthroat or anything – we all get along very well – but there is a lot of competition. It’s the nature of the sport,” said Carter. “If I have to face off against a teammate, I always bring my ‘A’ game. If I lose it’s not because he was better, it was because of my own mistakes.”
According to Carter the average snowboarder reaches their prime at age 24, which coincidentally will be the age he’ll be when the next winter Olympics occur.
“It’s a precision sport. You get better with age, you learn the little techniques, the little tips how to read the snow and that’s a huge part of it, the years of experience.”
Carter has plans after his snowboarding career ends, he wants to give back to the community and work as a physiotherapist.
“Our team’s physiotherapist has made a big impact on my career,” said Carter. “Having that kind of support staff is incredible and I would like to see that side of the sport as well. Plus I would still be able to travel and snowboard all over the world.”